Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)


Department: Chemistry


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • A2-level or equivalent in Chemistry.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Core Chemistry 2 (CHEM2012)


  • To present the chemical factors behind topical issues.


  • Elements at work: stars to cars: nuclear chemistry and radioactivity, functional materials, pigments, polymorphism.
  • Beautiful molecules: buckminster fullerenes, aspirin, paracetamol, analgesics, anti-inflammatory and chemotherapeutic agents, neurotransmitters.
  • Nasty molecules: chemical-warfare agents, teratogens, mutagens, carcinogens, drugs of abuse.
  • Molecules and light: light sources, visible spectrum, colour reception of the eye, colour mixing, composite colours, pigments; luminescence, fluorescence, phosphorescence.
  • Giant molecules: polymer properties, glass transition temperature, polymer architecture, semi-crystalline and amorphous polymers, crosslinking and elastomers, plasticisers, silicon polymers and glasses, natural polymers.
  • Physics and chemistry of water: Electronic structure of a water molecule, models of water, interactions between water molecules, origins and consequences of hydrogen bonds, supercooled and superheated water, the structure of ice, industrial water purification and waste water treatment.
  • Two essays.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Explain the fundamentals of nuclear chemistry and radioactivity and illustrate applications including dating, medicine and energy generation.
  • Describe some classes of inorganic functional materials with applications in energy generation.
  • Explain the uses of some inorganic materials as pigments and illustrate applications of chemistry to art and cultural heritage studies.
  • Explain the concept of polymorphism and illustrate it with selected relevant examples.
  • Describe the basic pharmacology of certain well known biologically active molecules.
  • Present some of the common chemical carcinogens, mutagens and teratogens, with a basic comprehension of how current chemotherapy agents work.
  • Explain the structures and properties of fullerenes and the history of their discovery.
  • Relate macroscopic polymer properties to the underlying chemical structure and chain architecture.
  • Explain qualitatively how molecules emit and interact with light and describe how these mechanisms are applied.
  • Explain simple polymer synthesis.
  • Explain how the physical properties of water impact upon terrestrial ecology.
  • Explain the relationship between the structure of water and its properties.
  • Describe and rationalise the phase diagram of water.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:
    • Demonstrate skills in scientific writing.

    Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

    • Lectures are used to convey concepts. These are examined by written papers. This is the best method to assess the knowledge of the students.
    • The progress test held in January is for students to assess their own learning and performance to improve their examination technique. It is an opportunity for them to assimilate the work completed in the first term. Papers are returned to students with model answers so that they can learn from the experience.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Lectures 36
    Progress Test 1
    Preparation and Reading 163
    Total 200

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Written examination Two-and-a-half-hours 100%
    Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 40%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Two essays 1500 words each 100% one-hour written examination

    Formative Assessment:

    Tutorial/workshop set work.

    Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University