module specification

CY5052 - Synthetic Techniques for Herbal Medicinal Science (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Synthetic Techniques for Herbal Medicinal Science
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 150
106 hours Guided independent study
44 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Practical Reports (5 x 700 words)
Attendance Requirement 0%   Practical Attendance
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality
Assurance Agency’s, Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.
This module will equip students with experience of a range of synthetic procedures and the purification steps needed to isolate products for testing.

The module aims to introduce students to advanced synthetic and purification techniques including fractional, vacuum and steam distillation, solvent extraction, fractional crystallisation and column chromatography. It also aims to reinforce safe and correct laboratory working practices emphasising the need for Risk Assessment and the importance of COSHH. Students will also learn about the planning and costing of synthetic experimental procedures.

Prior learning requirements



Purification methods in the laboratory: distillation (atmospheric pressure and under vacuum), recrystallisation, sublimation, solvent extraction procedures; selection of method(s) as appropriate to physical/chemical properties for yield optimisation. COSHH and safe laboratory working practices, risk assessment. Laboratory practical skills, data recording and handling, record keeping and report writing, and the effect of executing experimental procedures under GLP and GMP conditions, quality and quantity control, cost, environmental considerations. Experimental planning. Selected practical procedures: reflux under inert atmosphere; azeotropic dehydration, chromatography, spectroscopy; synthesis and purification of organic and organometallic compounds. LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning and teaching is based on laboratory sessions (32 hours), lectures (8 hours) and tutorials (4 hours). Practical sessions deal with the variety of skills used in practical chemistry, the recording, handling and interpretation of data, and the reporting of scientific information. Depending on the availability of equipment, students will work individually or in pairs. Writing and data handling skills will be enhanced through both the production of students’ ‘real-time’ laboratory records and the fully developed word-processed version of the practical write-up. Pre-laboratory assignments are provided to prepare the students for the various laboratory sessions.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module the students will be able to:
1. Devise appropriate separation procedures for the purification of an organic reaction product based on consideration of its physical structure and properties;
2. Perform, record, report and interpret the results of specified synthetic and separation procedures;
3. Design a synthetic route to a simple target product;
4. Make an appropriate assessment of chemical and other hazards in a laboratory experiment.


Core Text: Microscale Organic Laboratory, 5th edition, D. W. Mayo et al, Wiley, 2011.

Other Texts: The Organic Chem Lab Survival Manual, 8th edition, J. W. Zubrick, Wiley, 2011; Modern Organic Synthesis in the Laboratory, J. J. Li et al, OUP, 2007; Spectroscopic Methods in Organic Chemistry, 6th edition, Williams and Fleming, McGraw Hill, 2008.

Journals: Students will be directed to specific peer review articles.

Websites: lab primer; Common Laboratory Techniques –;