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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CHEM1401 Practical, Professional and Research Skills for Chemists

40 creditsClass Size: 180

Module manager: Dr Stephen Gorman

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

A level Chemistry or equivalent

This module is mutually exclusive with

CHEM1405Practical Chemistry for Natural Scientists
CHEM1420Practical Skills in Chemistry

Module replaces

CHEM1410 and CHEM1281

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Students will develop practical skills via on average 6h / week in the teaching labs, undertaking a range of experiments which they then present as scientific reports in different formats. Students will develop mathematical and other transferable skills (e.g. a basic understanding of scientific ethics, critical thinking and self-reflection) through a series of lectures and workshops. The module is designed to incorporate key requirements as outlined by the RSC in accreditation of chemistry degree programmes.


To introduce students to the chemistry laboratory and equipment and to develop appropriate IT, mathematical and other transferable skills. On completion of this module students will have:

- undertaken a selection of experiments in the organic, inorganic and physical chemistry laboratories appropriate to the level 1 theory modules and to the general development of good laboratory technique, and presented their results in the form of scientific reports;.
- designed a simple investigative procedure by undertaking an open-ended experiment;
- developed mathematical skills via worked examples and take-home exercises;
- developed a basic understanding of scientific ethics and critical thinking;
- Prepared and presented a professional development plan underpinned through informed decision-making and reflective practice.

Learning outcomes
Students completing the module will be able to demonstrate:

1) confidence in safely handling reagents/solvents, including those that are air-sensitive and/or pose a hazard;
2) ability to undertake experimental work, with due attention to safety;
3) ability to manipulate laboratory apparatus and record data for subsequent analysis;
4) ability to synthesize inorganic and organic molecules of straightforward structural complexity;
5) ability to determine structure using spectroscopic data;
6) an understanding of the most common practical techniques and their proper application in the laboratory situation;
7) a knowledge of current techniques and methodologies appropriate to synthetic chemistry, with hands on practical experience of some of these;
8) an ability to analyze, interpret and evaluate data; acquire and integrate information, and use information to solve problems appropriate for level 1;
9) an ability to communicate effectively through a variety of media;
10) an ability to record data and physical measurements and comment on their precision and accuracy;
11) an ability to use selected chemical apparatus and instruments in an appropriate manner;
12) the ability to use PC-based spreadsheets, graphics and word-processing packages to manipulate and plot data and to prepare reports;
13) an ability to perform basic mathematical manipulations as required for year 1 theory modules etc;
14) an understanding of ethical expectations of scientists, including what constitutes plagiarism;
15) an appreciation of the value of critical thinking when reading science and pseudoscience;
16) an understanding of their professional development needs through a process of self-analysis; and reflection in relation to the current and future demands of the workplace (both Chemistry-related and beyond).

Skills outcomes
- Use of scientific instrumentation;
- Development of practical skills;
- Development of research/investigative skills.


During semesters 1 and 2 students will undertake a selection of experiments in the areas of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, appropriate to the level 1 theory modules and designed for the general development of confidence in the most fundamental laboratory techniques. The experiments are designed to cover:
- safety in the laboratory, COSHH regulations and good laboratory practice;
- the preparation and characterisation of inorganic compounds, and the use of analytical techniques to investigate them;
- the synthesis of a selection of organic compounds, and an introduction to the use of spectroscopic techniques to confirm their structure;
-a range of physical measurements and appropriate data analysis; an introduction to computational methods with relevance to modern chemistry; an introduction to mathematical methods required for chemistry;
-as an introduction to investigative chemistry.

There will also be a series of lectures and workshops to support and extend those learning and research skills delivered through the laboratory experiments.

In semester 1 students will attend a lecture and two workshops on ethics, professionalism and an introduction to critical thinking. In semester 2 students will attend a series of workshops on self-reflection in the context of academic and professional development, the landscape of work, auditing and mapping of subject specific and generic, transferable skills, the use of career management tools (CVs; application forms; interviews; Linkedin etc) and will prepare and present a professional development plan underpinned through informed decision-making and reflective practice.

In semester 2 there will also be a short series of lectures and workshops on mathematical tools.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning151.0015.00
Computer Class41.004.00
Private study hours222.00
Total Contact hours178.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

Each experiment has an online briefing and test which the students need to complete before starting the experiment.

Each experiment requires a report which will involve private study to complete.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Experimental laboratory reports marked regular throughout semesters 1 and 2.

Completion of computer-based assignments at intervals.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PracticalAssessment of lab reports and skills plus online exercises75.00
In-course AssessmentMaths Assessment10.00
PortfolioFor employability part10.00
Online AssessmentOnline exercise for ethics part5.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

To pass the module, students must achieve: an average mark of 40% or higher on the experimental part conducted in the Synthetic and Analytical Chemistry laboratory, and; an average mark of 40% or above on the experimental part conducted in the Physical Chemistry laboratory, and; an overall average mark of 40% or above. Students who have completed sufficient laboratory work will be able to submit reports for the summer resit period. Students who have not completed sufficient laboratory work will be given an opportunity to do so over summer but if they have missed too much, they may need to resit the module as an internal student in the following year.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:52:16


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