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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

COLO5180M Synthesis and Application of Polymers

15 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Paul Thornton

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

A bachelor degree with a 2:2 (hons) in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science or a related subject, or the equivalent.

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in all components, or the equivalent.

Module replaces


This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Students will be knowledgeable in the more advanced aspects of polymerisation.Emphasis will be placed on natural and synthetic polymers beginning with fundamental aspects and moving rapidly to more up-to-date and advanced materials. Characterisation will be covered in a general sense. Some emphasis will be placed on functional polymers, biopolymeric, materials coatings systems and polymers for high tech applications.


Students will be knowledgeable in the more advanced aspects of polymerisations and copolymerisations. The significance of natural and synthetic polymer modification will be emphasised for the creation of commercial products. In addition, the module will disseminate the importance of polymer composites, biomedical polymers and other functional polymers. Finally, students will gain a thorough understanding of the contemporary methods of monomer and polymer characterisation.

Learning outcomes
(1) A comprehensive understanding of the fundamental principles of both theoretical and synthetic polymer chemistry.
(2) Knowledge of key contemporary methods of polymerisation, and their wide-ranging applicability in academic and commercial research.
(3) Familiarity of polymeric properties, and the methods utilised to assess these properties.
(4) An understanding of the medicinal and economical importance of biomedical polymers.


- Introduction to Polymer Chemistry
- General Polymer Synthesis
- Free Radical Polymerisations
- Ionic Polymerisations
- LP3: NMP
- Ring-Opening Polymerisations
- Emulsion Polymerisations
- Inorganic Polymers and their Commercial Significance
- Polymer Self-Assembly
- Polymer Processing
- Coordination polymerisation
- Branched Polymers
- Biomedical Polymers (in conjunction with CHEM5600)

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Independent online learning hours4.00
Private study hours115.00
Total Contact hours31.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

The students will be provided with formative problem sheets which will have optional submission deadlines, although submission by week 3 and week 9 will be encouraged to enable feedback to be provided to each student independently, and to the class as a whole. Problem sheet 1 will ensure that the students gain an understanding of the fundamental science behind polymer chemistry. This will enable those students who have not undertaken polymer chemistry tuition previously to become aware with the key concepts of the subject at an early stage. Problem sheet 2 will address the topic of Biomedical Polymers and thus ensure that all students have a comprehension of this often unfamiliar area of polymer chemistry, prior to the commencement of exam revision.

Each student will be required to provide a 1,500 word essay (10 hrs) on the commercial application of a chosen/assigned polymer (e.g. The Use of Epoxy Resin in Modern Aircraft). This element will be worth 10% of the total module mark.

Each student will prepare and present a Powerpoint presentation, or Youtube video if preferred, concerning a relevant topic in contemporary polymer chemistry (e.g. The Commercial Exploitation of RAFT Polymerisations). This element will be worth 10% of the total module mark. The presentations (8 hr to prepare) will be provide in a single 3 hr session in which peer assessment will take place.

Solutions to the problem sheets will be made available online and a more detailed in-class discussion will be conducted that will focus particularly problematic aspects. The students will also be given some online videos and website resources to explore from the VLE (4 hrs independent online learning).

Further study of lecture material, including reading relevant accompanying material in books on the module reading list as directed by the lecturers. (3 hr per lecture = 66 hr)

Exam revision, including practise of past papers. (25 hr)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative exercises for workshops, and regularly-spaced online quizzes.

Methods of assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Open Book exam2 hr 00 mins100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 01/07/2021 09:55:01


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