Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Chemistry


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • A-level or equivalent in Chemistry.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Core Chemistry 2 (CHEM2012)


  • To present the chemical factors behind topical issues.


  • Origins of the Elements: nuclear chemistry, uses of radioactivity, polymorphism.
  • Beautiful and nasty molecules: Buckminster fullerenes, aspirin, paracetamol, analgesics, anti-inflammatory and chemotherapeutic agents, neurotransmitters, 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.
  • Chemistry in Perspective: the importance (breadth, financial/economic and societal) and relevance of the chemical industry and their broad context.
  • Physics and chemistry of water: Electronic structure of a water molecule, models of water, interactions between water molecules, origins and consequences of hydrogen bonds, super-cooled and superheated water, the structure of ice, industrial water purification and waste water treatment.
  • Two assignments. Guidance on essay writing, literature searching and what constitutes plagiarism

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Explain the fundamentals of nuclear chemistry and demonstrate a basic comprehension of how elements form in stars and why abundances of elements differ.
  • Explain radioactivity and describe applications in, e.g., dating, medicine, energy generation and labelling.
  • Explain the concept of polymorphism and describe the structure and some applications of different allotropes of elements such as carbon, phosphorus and oxygen.
  • 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.
  • Explain qualitatively how molecules emit and interact with light and describe how these mechanisms are applied.
  • Develop an appreciation of the economic importance of chemistry, together with an indication of its scale.
  • Give an overview of the broad classes of chemicals and materials made commercially worldwide and the relative amounts of each produced.
  • Develop an appreciation of global water resources and water purification..
  • Explain the relationship between the structure of water and its properties.
  • Describe and rationalise the phase diagram of water.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Produce a scholarly essay of an area of relevant literature
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.
  • Assignments allow students to present information in their own words, synthesising ideas and demonstrating their ability to communicate effectively in written form.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 36 2 per week 1 hour 36
Preparation and Reading 164
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment 1 50% Assignment
Assignment 2 50% Assignment

Formative Assessment:

Essay writing exercise on Learn Ultra in term 1

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