Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Chemistry


Type Open Level 1 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • A-level or equivalent in Chemistry AND Mathematics


  • Practical Chemistry 1A (CHEM1087)

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To teach the fundamentals of Chemistry and to provide a foundation on which later courses can be based.
  • Some of the material in this module aims to ensure that students from different pre-university backgrounds reach a common base level.


  • Structure and bonding: structure of the hydrogen atom, introduction to orbitals, Aufbau principle, multi-electron atoms, valence bond and MO theories.
  • Chemical periodicity.
  • Coordination chemistry.
  • Organic chemistry. Nucleophiles and electrophiles. Organic synthesis, mechanism, reactivity and stereochemistry. Descriptive chemistry of selected organic functional groups.
  • Thermodynamics of ideal chemical systems: first and second laws of thermodynamics, U, H, S, and G, equilibrium constants.
  • Chemical kinetics.
  • Units and dimensions.
  • Spectroscopy and proof of structure: molecular structure analysis by NMR and IR spectroscopies and mass spectrometry.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • draw the graphical forms of hydrogenic wavefunctions, and describe their importance in determining the form of the periodic table;
  • describe the hybrid orbital method of bonding in sp, sp2 and sp3 configurations;
  • describe the molecular orbital theory of bonding in 1st row homo and hetero diatomics;
  • describe trends in properties of elements and compounds throughout the periodic table, and account for why these trends occur;
  • determine the co-ordination geometries of simple inorganic and organic molecules and ions and account for the bonding in them;
  • describe the difference between electrophiles and nucleophiles, accounting for their differing behaviour;
  • describe the key aspects of stereochemistry and be able to appreciate and exemplify the three major types of isomer (constitutional, diastereoisomer, enantiomer);
  • rationalise the chemistry of alkanes, alkyl halides, alkenes and carbonyl compounds;
  • describe the fundamental organic reaction mechanisms of nucleophilic substitution at sp3 carbon, elimination, electrophilic addition to alkenes and simple aromatics, and nucleophilic addition and substitution at carbonyl groups and apply this understanding to simple transformations;
  • describe the basic principles underlying spectroscopy, and be able to deduce the structure of simple organic species from spectra;
  • describe the fundamental thermodynamic parameters and calculate their values from physical data, relate changes in the parameters to phase changes and use them to calculate equilibrium constants for chemical reactions;
  • relate an equilibrium constant to fundamental thermodynamic parameters;
  • manipulate rate equations and analyse experimental kinetic data in chemical and biochemical applications;
  • relate reaction mechanism to rate laws and use kinetic data to draw mechanistic conclusions.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Solve basic chemical problems.
Key Skills:
  • Work effectively in a tutorial group to solve chemical problems;
  • Self-motivation, in self-guided learning.

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

  • Lectures are used to convey concepts, demonstrate what is required to be learned and the application of the theory to practical examples. When appropriate, lectures will be supported by on-line videos, written material, or by information and relevant links on Learn Ultra.
  • Tutorials are given to ensure that the students have grasped the concepts given in the lectures and to practice examples of problems. The work is formatively assessed.
  • Workshops are larger groups of students where problems are considered and common difficulties shared. This ensures that students have understood the work and can apply it to real life situations. These are formatively assessed.
  • Private study should be used by students to develop their subject-specific knowledge and self-motivation, through reading textbooks and literature.
  • A progress test is held in January 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.
  • Students will be able to obtain further help in their studies by approaching their lecturers, either after lectures or at other mutually convenient times.
  • Student performance will be summatively assessed through examinations. Examinations test students' ability to work under pressure under timed conditions, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The examination will provide the means for students to demonstrate the acquisition of subject knowledge and the development of their problem-solving skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 71 4 per week 1 Hour 71
Tutorials 13 1 per week 1 Hour 13
Workshops 3 1 per week in Term three 2 hours 6
Progress Test 1 1 per year 2 hours 2
Meetings with Departmental Advisor 4 Induction, and one per Term
Preparation and Reading 210
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Examinations Component Weighting: 90%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 1 Two hours 50%
Written examination 2 Two hours 50%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Progress test 70 mins 100% Written examination (70 mins)

Formative Assessment:

Set work in preparation for tutorials. Set work in preparation for workshops.

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