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Year 1 Practical Chemistry - CHE00018C

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  • Department: Chemistry
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Nick Wood
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

This is a compulsory module, in which students learn fundamental techniques for Practical Chemistry.

NB In addition to the below, "Practical skills 1: labwork assessment for Year 1 Practical Chemistry" is a non-credit-weighted assessment task for this module. It must be passed in order for students to progress to Stage 2.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

  • To introduce students to practical laboratory work at degree level.

  • To inculcate and reinforce core elements of practical work, such as working safely in the laboratory, understanding and practice of key manipulative skills, making accurate records etc.

  • To develop the students' abilities, and build their confidence in all of these areas, so that they are prepared for the challenges of more advanced practical work in subsequent years of the programme.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • To understand the foundational principles of practical work in Chemistry


Academic and graduate skills

  • to understand and practise general laboratory skills

  • to understand and gain proficiency in general synthetic skills

  • to understand and gain proficiency in general analytical skills

  • to understand and gain proficiency in general data-handling skills

  • to consolidate these skills, and gain experience of pair-work, team-work and problem-solving in the context of practical chemistry

Module content

Assuming no prior knowledge, this module introduces Year 1 undergraduate chemists to the practical laboratory, and teaches them the practical skills that are associated with laboratory practical work. The practical skills are taught via a series of structured experimental exercises. These exercises are designed to train elementary practical skills at the start of the module; these elementary practical skills are then extended, developed and combined as the module progresses, providing multiple opportunities for students to practise and improve. The module content is developed primarily through laboratory sessions - 9 days in Autumn term, 9 days in Spring term, and 7 days in Summer term. The laboratory exercises are overseen and taught by laboratory demonstrators. Information is provided in a variety of formats, including introductory lectures, experimental scripts, experimental briefings, notes and interactions with the demonstrators.

Module content:

  • General laboratory skills

Introduced at the start of the module, and developed throughout, including lab familiarisation, safely handling substances, weighing solids, measuring liquids, appreciation of risk assessments, lab book usage

  • General synthetic skills

Introduced at the start of the module, and developed throughout, including use of glassware, filtration, reflux, extraction, distillation, recrystallisation, use of rotary evaporators etc.

  • General analytical skills

Introduced at the start of the module, and developed throughout, including use of volumetric glassware, use of UVvis/IR spectroscopy, preparation of NMR samples, use of GC and HPLC instruments etc.

  • General data handling skills

Introduced some way through the module, then developed throughout, particularly in Physical Chemistry practicals at the start of the Summer term, including accurately recording data, processing data, appreciation of accuracy and precision, appreciation of uncertainty in measured results etc.

  • Consolidating skills

Developed at the end of the module in the Integrated Chemistry Projects, which act as a "capstone" element to the module; this involves practising and developing the fundamental laboratory skills in "real-world"-type scenarios, planning experimental work, drawing conclusions, and developing broader problem-solving skills in individual, pair-work and team-work situations.


Task Length % of module mark
Lab Book Assessment
N/A 5
Integrated Chemistry Practical
N/A 25
Physical Experiment Scripts
N/A 25
Practical skills 2: labwork
N/A 45

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

For the lab book assessment, the lab books are to be submitted when the student finishes their timetabled Practical Skills 2 assessment.

For the Physical experiments, scripts are due to be submitted in the same week as the experiment is conducted.

For the ICP course, the collected group data is to be submitted by the 6pm on the planning day (Friday week 9 or Monday week 10, depending on the practical group). Slides for the group presentation must be submitted by 8am on the day of the presentation (Monday or Tuesday week 10, depending on the practical group).

In addition to the practical assessment listed in the assessment section, students must complete a "Practical skills 1: labwork" assessment.  This is a non-weighted component of this module but it must be passed in order for students to progress. This "Practical skills 1: labwork" assessment task is recorded under the module catalogue entry "Practical skills 1: labwork assessment for Year 1 Practical Chemistry"


Task Length % of module mark
Practical skills 2: labwork
N/A 45

Module feedback

Throughout the laboratory exercises, students will receive verbal feedback on their performance, which they can use to improve their skills, in advance of the assessments.

In Practical skills assessment 1, students will receive individual feedback, by email, on their performance within 3 days, and some more generalised feedback, by email, within 20 working days. Any students with unsatisfactory performance are required to attend a retraining session, before commencing the Spring term practical exercises, where they would also have multiple opportunities to retake this assessment. Practical skills assessment 1 also acts to familiarise the students with this method of assessment, in advance of the credit-bearing summative Practical skills assessment 2.

In Practical skills assessment 2, and the lab book submission, students will receive a mixture of individual and generalised feedback, by email, within 20 working days. 

The Physical experiments are conducted in the first few weeks of the Summer term; the scripts from these experiments are submitted, then students would attend group feedback sessions approximately one week later - except where this falls in the University's common assessment period, in which case feedback will be provided via the VLE. Scripts would be returned at or near the end of the module.

The Integrated Chemistry Practicals consist of lab sessions, with additional group work sessions, finishing with a group presentation. Students receive feedback witihin a week on their labwork, and on their presentations.

Students receive a full breakdown of the module marks with their Year 1 marks, and an examiner's report is written for the module.

Indicative reading

Practical Skills in Chemistry; Dean, Jones, Holmes, Reed, Weyers and Jones

Practical Organic Chemistry; Vogel

Experimental Organic Chemistry; Cranwell, Harwood and Moody

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.