module specification

CH4005 - Concepts in Chemistry (2016/17)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2016/17
Module title Concepts in Chemistry
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 300
67 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
233 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
In-Course Test 40%   7 x minitests (6x15 min, 1x 30 min)
In-Course Test 10%   Progress test (30 min)
Practical Examination 25%   Practical exercise (pre-lab-500 words; practical observation-4h; practical exercise-1000 words)
Unseen Examination 25%   Summative exam (1 h)
Running in 2016/17
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Monday Morning

Module summary

This module is a companion module to CH4002 (Chemistry and Biochemistry). It covers the fundamentals of inorganic and physical chemistry needed for students of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Science, in addition to some more advanced organic chemistry. Students will undertake practical exercises and practice problem solving skills based on the material taught.

Prior learning requirements

CH4001 and CH4002 (pre- or co-requisites)

Module aims

The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.
The module aims first to introduce students to key concepts of bonding, molecular shape, and periodicity in chemistry. It will enumerate some aspects of the descriptive chemistry of the elements, and give students exposure to introductory concepts in physical chemistry. In addition, students will revise some fundamental mathematical principles and explore the chemistry of aromatic species.
This module aims to provide students with the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of some personal responsibility, enhancing analytical and mathematical competence. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their learning experience and broaden their horizons through the inclusion of student development weeks.


Inorganic chemistry
Balancing simple chemical equations. Oxidation and reduction and the use of redox to balance equations.
Atomic orbitals. Radial distribution functions. Atomic numbers. Aufbau principle and Pauli exclusion principle. Ionic, covalent, metallic and coordinative bonding. Molecular orbital theory, as applied to first row diatomics.
Valence shell electron pair repulsion theory.
Ionisation energies and trends in the periodic table, illustrated using the chemistry of the s- and p-blocks.
The chemistry of the d-block. Coordination and ligands, splitting of the d-orbitals in octahedral and tetrahedral fields, CFSE and magnetism. High and low-spin complexes. Trends in oxidation state across the first row of the d-block.
Applications of inorganic chemistry in medicine, including metallodrugs and imaging agents.

Physical chemistry
Phases of matter, their properties and interconversions.
Thermodynamics. Enthalpy, entropy, and Gibbs Free Energy. The first law of thermodynamics. Constant volume and constant pressure systems.
The kinetics of simple chemical reactions.
Introductory quantum mechanics. The Schrodinger equation.
Introductory electrochemistry. Half equations and electrodes. Standard electrode potentials.
Mathematical concepts. Algebra. Simple differentiation and integration.

Organic chemistry
Concepts in aromaticity. Aromatic and anti-aromatic species, with examples. Electrophilic and nucleophilic reaction mechanisms of aromatic species. o-, m-, and p-directing substituents. Heterocyclic systems and their nomenclature.

Learning and teaching

The module will be taught using a range of approaches, including lectures, tutorials, practical sessions, directed assignments and blended learning. Lectures  will be The module is delivered through a range of different mechanisms including practical work, workshops, tutorials, lectures, on-line material and directed course work.

Teaching and learning sessions consist of lectures, tutorials and practicals.
Lectures (48h) are used to deliver subject material and are linked to tutorials (18h) and practical sessions (8h).  Tutorials are utilized to develop problem solving skills throughout the module

Students will be expected to reflect on the learning experience and develop their own understanding of the topics covered (226h). The module is supported by a website on WebLearn which includes a number of electronic learning aids, with a particular emphasis on consolidation of previous learning. Students would be expected to use the site for assisted study.


Learning outcomes

Following completion of this module, students should be able to:

  1. Explain structure and bonding in chemistry using fundamental theories;
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of trends in the periodic table;
  3. Describe the properties of matter on the macroscopic and atomic scales;
  4. Comprehend redox chemistry and electrochemistry;
  5. Perform simple mathematical manipulations;
  6. Elucidate core features of the chemistry of aromatic species.
  7. Undertake routine practical exercises safely, and apply appropriate analytical techniques to the data obtained.

Assessment strategy

 Assessment will comprise four components:

  • 7 minitests (6 x 15 min, 1 x 30 min in class tests throughout the year (40 %)), these will cover Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry as well as Mathematics. A formative minitest has been incorporated into the module to allow students to become familiar with the assessment methodology. Minitests will take place roughly monthly, and will allow staff and students to track progress through the course. This allows interventions to be made early to prevent students struggling, and is in accordance with best practice for first year courses.
  • Progress test (30 min test in January (10%)). This will cover Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry as well as Mathematics not covered in the minitest component.
  • A practical exercise (25%), of which the assessment has three elements: pre-lab questions (500 words; 7%), practical performance (3%) and practical write-up (1500 words; 15 %). This will encourage students to reflect on their practical work, and require them to relate their observations to the theoretical background material studied.
  • A terminal exam (1 h; 25 %). This will contain one problem on inorganic chemistry, one on physical chemistry and two on organic chemistry. It will require students to integrate the knowledge gained across the strands of the course to solve more complex problems, enabling epistemological competences to be combined in an interdisciplinary manner.

To pass the module, students need to achieve a minimum aggregate mark of 40%.  There will be an attendance requirement for the practical sessions. If the module is passed on reassessment, then the maximum mark awarded will be 40%.

The assessments link to the learning outcomes as follows:

Assignment Learning outcome(s) covered
1. Minitests/Progress test 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
2. Practical exercise 1, 2, 5,7
3. Final exam 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6



Atkins, P. and De Paula, J. (2010) Elements of Physical Chemistry (5th edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Atkins, P. and De Paula, J. (2010) Physical Chemistry (9th edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.  [recommended for chemists]
Atkins, P. and De Paula, J. (2010) Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences (2nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press. [recommended for pharmaceutical scientists]
Atkins, P., Overton, T., Rourke, J., Weller, M. and Armstrong, F. (2009) Inorganic Chemistry (5th edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press. [recommended for chemists]
Burrows, A., Parsons, A., Price, G., Pilling, G. and Holman, J. (2009) Chemistry3. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [core]
Huheey, J.E., Keiter, E.A. and Keiter, R.L. (1993) Inorganic Chemistry: Principles of Structure and Reactivity (4th edition). New York: HarperCollins. [recommended for chemists]
Miessler, G.L. and Tarr, D.A. (2010) Inorganic Chemistry (4th edition). New York: Prentice Hall. [recommended for chemists]
McMurry, J.E. (2008) Organic Chemistry (8th edition). Andover: Cengage Learning.
Vollhardt, K.P.C. and Schore, N.E. (2011) Organic Chemistry: Structure and Function (6th edition). New Jersey: Freeman.
Grossel, M. (1997) Alicyclic Chemistry (Oxford Chemistry Primers no 54). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hornby, M. and Peach, J. (2001) Foundations of Organic Chemistry: worked examples (Oxford Chemistry Primers no 87), Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Useful online resources:

The Oxford Virtual Chemistry Laboratory: