Chemistry (BSc F100 / MSci F101)

Students take a total of four course units per year with many courses being half units. For each year of study a student undertakes a number of core (compulsory) units, together with a number of optional chemistry courses and further optional courses from outside the department.

Details for each year are given below. The BSc and MSci differ in the third year and there is a description of the third year given as a separate item. The main differences are that BSc students do less practical work and the Literature Project is optional.

Note that optional units are subject to changes as new areas of chemistry are introduced intro the curriculum or are developed by new staff.

Year 1

Introduction to Chemical Principles (CHEM1004, 1 unit, core)

The aims of CHEM1004 are to lay the foundations of the 3 main branches of chemistry for all of the subsequent courses in the Department. The course material is linked to, but extends considerably, A-level chemistry and related courses.

A laboratory course is included to reinforce key skills.

Topics will include:

  • Atomic structure and bonding
  • Atomic spectroscopy
  • Fundamentals of Organic Mechanisms and Stereochemistry
  • Interfaces between the sciences.

Basic Physical Chemistry (CHEM1301, 0.5 unit , core)

The aim of this course is to introduce students to gases through the kinetic theory of gases, and to the description and interpretation of chemical systems using quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and thermodynamics.


  • Kinetic theory of gases.
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Statistical thermodynamics and thermodynamics

Basic Organic Chemistry (CHEM1201, 0.5 unit, core)

To provide a general understanding of organic chemistry and a knowledge of basic organic reactions. The structure, conformation and stereochemistry of organic compounds, as well as their reactions will be studied. A basic  understanding of the fundamental principles of organic chemistry and the synthesis and reactivity of the most important functional groups in organic compounds will be developed.


  • Fundamental concepts of organic chemistry
  • Alkanes
  • Alkenes
  • Alkynes
  • Alkyl halides
  • Preparation of alcohols
  • Ethers and Epoxides
  • Structure and Preparation of Aldehydes and Ketones
  • Reactions of Aldehydes and Ketones
  • Preparation of Nitrogen-containing Compounds
  • Carboxylic Acids and their Derivatives
  • Review of Key Principles; How to apply Knowledge of Organic Chemistry

Basic Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM1101, 0.5 unit, core)

The aim of this course is to introduce students to key aspects of inorganic chemistry, including solid state structures, the chemistry of phosphorus and hydrogen, and transition metal chemistry. The laboratory course provides training and experience in practical aspects of inorganic chemistry, including synthesis, qualitative, IR spectroscopy, and powder X-ray diffraction.


  • Transition Metals
  • Solid State Chemistry
  • Chemistry and Periodicity of Group 15 elements

Maths (for those with A-level maths, MATH6105, 0.5 unit, core)

The maths department offers two half unit courses for those with mathematics A-level. The first is compulsory for chemistry students and we strongly advise students to take both available.

Both focus on calculus methods which will be key in physical chemistry courses.

Maths (for those without A-level maths, CHEM1001, 1 unit, core)

The chemistry department teaches a full unit of mathematics focussing on those areas of A-level Maths and Further Maths courses that are of direct relevance to chemistry.


  • Fundamentals of Algebra
  • Calculus of functions with one variable
  • Statistics and data analysis
  • Complex number and matrices
  • Advanced calculus

Other Options (0.5 or 1 units)

Further units are taken to take the total number of units taken to 4.0. Many units are available -  the ones listed are those typically taken by chemistry students but others may also be available.  



Mammalian Physiology 0.5
Atoms, Stars and the Universe 0.5
The Earth 0.5
Understanding Management 0.5
Mathematics for Science 2 0.5
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology A
Introductory Statistical Methods and Computing
Cell Physiology and Developmental Biology
Cells and Development
History of Modern Science 0.5
History to Science: Antiquity to Enlightenment


Current options include German, French, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic

Available for various starting standards.


Year 2

Physical Chemistry (CHEM2301, 1 unit, core)

The aims of this course are to develop further quantum mechanics and thermodynamics and to extend the material of CHEM1301 to spectroscopy, kinetics, and electrochemistry.

A laboratory course support the lecture material developing advanced analysis methods.


  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Kinetics, photochemistry and atmospheric chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Solutions and Electrolyte solutions

Organic Chemistry (CHEM2201, 1 unit, core)

The course provides an essential understanding of organic chemistry.


  • structure elucidation by spectroscopic means;
  • electronic structure and reactivity of carbonyl compounds;
  • synthesis and reactivity of simple molecules;
  • basic retrosynthetic analysis;
  • the use of phosphorous, sulfur, boron and silicon reagents in organic synthesis;
  • essential chemistry of heteroaromatic compounds.

Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM2102, 1 unit, core)


To expand upon the concepts and supporting factual material introduced in first year inorganic chemistry (courses CHEM1004 and CHEM1101) and to explore the varied aspects of main group and transition metal chemistry.


  • Principles and Applications of Group Theory
  • Pre- and post-transition metal chemistry
  • Structure, electronics and bonding in the d-block transition metals
  • Chemistry of complex solids

Chemical Dynamics (CHEM2303, 0.5 unit, option)

The aim of this course is to teach students the fundamentals of modern chemical dynamics and modern experimental methods in chemical physics.


  • Photochemistry and photophysics
  • Reaction dynamics
  • Lasers and laser techniques

Chemistry of Materials (CHEM2001, 0.5 unit, option)

The course will outline how technologically important properties of materials arise from the bonding and structure on the one hand and the presence of point, line, planar and volume defects on the other.


  • Overview of the Material World
  • Structure Electronic & Magnetic Properties of Materials
  • Organic Polymers

Reaction Mechanisms in Chemical and Biological Systems (CHEM2203, 0.5 unit, option)

The aims of this course are to give students a better insight into the methods by which organic reaction mechanisms are studied, as well as to broaden their knowledge of reaction mechanisms in both enzymic and non-enzymic systems.


  • Organic mechanisms
  • Enzyme mechanisms

Other Options (0.5 or 1 units)

Further units are taken to take the total number of units taken to 4.0. Students can continue with themes developed in the first year or take others at an appropriate level. Examples of units include:



Electricity and Magnetism

History of Modern Science

Multimedia Computing

See Year 1 options for other subject areas.

Year 3

Advanced Topics in Physical Chemistry (CHEM3301, 0.5 unit, core)

The course will show:

  • how the measurement of molecular quantities via spectroscopy can provide the necessary data for the calculation of macroscopic quantities via statistical mechanics
  • how statistical mechanics can be used to determine important quantities such as equilibrium constants the importance of stability in thermodynamics
  • how a detailed description of the structure and reactivity of surfaces can be developed.


  • Molecular spectroscopy
  • Advanced thermodynamics and statistical mechanics
  • Surfaces and adsorption
  • Electron transfer in solutions and at electrodes

Principles and Methods of Organic Synthesis (CHEM3205, 0.5 unit, core)

The aim of this course is to give students an understanding of more advanced areas of organic synthesis. Key areas covered include: Palladium-catalysed reactions; Basic asymmetric synthesis; Pericyclic organic reactions; Stereoelectronic effects; and Stereocontrolled synthesis and manipulation of cyclic and polycyclic molecules.


  • Catalytic Palladium Chemistry in Organic Synthesis
  • Asymmetric Synthesis
  • Frontier Orbitals in Organic Chemistry
  • Stereoelectronic Effects in Organic Synthesis

Advanced Topics in Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM3101, 0.5 unit, core)


To introduce and discuss four important and diverse areas of inorganic chemistry. To lay the theoretical and practical foundations for advanced courses in some of these areas taken later. To encourage students to investigate these topics by reading beyond the lecture material.


  • Lanthanides and Actinides
  • Advanced Inorganic Materials Chemistry Processes and Applications
  • Organometallic Chemistry
  • Main Group Chemistry

An Introduction to Research Methods/Advanced Practical Chemistry (CHEM3001/3, 1.0/0.5 unit, core)

Advanced practical skills are developed through a series of experimental modules.

MSci students (1 unit) do 3 laboratory or computing modules and a further module which involves group work and an oral presentation on a special topic.

BSc students (0.5 unit) do 1 laboratory or computing modules and a further module which involves group work and an oral presentation on a special topic.

Literature Project (CHEM3004, 0.5 unit, core/option)

Core for MSci Students, option for BSc students


To write a review of a current research area in chemistry of up to 5,000 words (excluding figures and schemes), containing at least 20 references to primary scientific literature.


To identify and document key aspects of recent research literature on a specified topic, using a variety of (largely electronic) search methods and databases; to acquire a firm understanding and overview of the specific field of research defined by the project, and to put in context, and in an objective manner, key research results; to write a concise review that is scientifically correct and communicates good understanding of the specific area.

Advanced Chemistry Options (one/two 0.5 unit)

Students take further chemistry options.

BSc: At least two half units (up to four)
MSci: Either one or two half units

Many of these options are offered during the third and fourth year.

Current units offered:

Concepts in Computational and Experiment Chemistry
Inorganic Rings, Chains and Clusters
Biological Chemistry
Principles of Drug Design
Pathways, Intermediates and Function in Organic Chemistry
Numerical Methods in Chemistry
New Directions in Materials Chemistry

Other Options (0.5 or 1 unit)

Further units are taken to take the total number of units taken to 4.0. Students can take options outside of chemistry already developed in previous years,  or in new field, at an appropriate level. Students can of course take further chemistry options!

See Year 1 and 2 options for subject areas outside chemistry.

The BSc third year can be viewed here.

Year 4

Advanced Chemical Research Project (CHEMM901, 2 unit, core)

The course involves two terms' research under the direct supervision of one or, in some cases, two members of the academic staff.

Experimental work starts in the second week of the first term and be completed three weeks from the end of the second term. The total time available is therefore 1 week for reading and preparation, 19 weeks for experimental work and 3 weeks to produce a final report. An average of about 22 hours a week should be devoted to the project, including reading, writing and discussions, giving a total load of about 500 hours. 

Assessment is through the supervisor's observation, a project report, an oral examination and a presentation.

Advanced Chemistry Options (three/four 0.5 unit)

Other Options (0.5 unit)

A final option outside of chemistry may be taken or an additional course in chemistry.

See Year 1 and 2 options for subject areas outside chemistry.

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