CH1CC1-Chemical Concepts in Context

Module Provider: Chemistry
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn, Spring and Summer
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites: CH1IN1 Fundamentals of Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table and CH1OR1 Shape, Structure and Reactivity in Organic Chemistry and CH1PH1 Physical Processes and Molecular Organisation
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2012/3

Module Convenor: Dr Elizabeth Page


To help students develop the independent learning skills necessary for higher level studies.
To introduce students to the concepts of open and closed types of problem solving and help them develop effective problem-solving strategies.
To help students develop self-study skills to enable them to research an unknown topic, learn about it and solve a problem based upon it.
To familiarise students with a range of resources for researching unknowns.
To help students develop effective time management, organisation and team working skills.
To give students practice and support in written and oral communication and to develop scientific writing skills.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Students should be able to :
Tackle unseen problems and devise strategies for solving them.
Make predictions and ‘guesstimates’ based on sound scientific knowledge or data.
Extract and manipulate numerical data.
Organise themselves and team members to communicate in appropriate ways or through appropriate media.
Access a variety of resources including the chemical literature to obtain data and summarise findings.
Construct a reasoned argument to arrive at a valid solution to a problem.
Write a report using suitable scientific language to justify the methods used to solve the problem and the results.
Present the findings and results orally.

Additional outcomes:
Students will improve their research, organisational, time management, team working and oral communication skills. Students will be encouraged to think creatively, identify trends in data and ignore superfluous information. Students will learn to make value judgements about their own work and the work of peers. In addition they will improve their numeracy skills.

Outline content:
Students will be presented with a series of problems throughout the course of the module, and given preliminary sources to investigate in order to solve the problems. They will be expected to work in set teams, to analyse the problem, to decide upon an approach, to research the given sources and explore others. The problems will not necessarily have right or wrong answers. Students will be assessed on their approach to the problems and where relevant the quality of their answers.
Autumn Term
Week 2: Thinking outside the box. An introduction to skills development and the role of personal tutor meetings, the RSC Undergraduate Skills Record in skills reflection. Introduction to team working, the Blackboard site and assessment format for the module . An introduction to unseen problem solving in a scientific context. Each team of students will be given one open-type problem which they will solve over the following week. (2 hour lecture)
Week 2-3 problem solving in teams
Week 3: What’s the right answer? Each group will present its findings to the rest of the class and justify their approach. (2 hour presentations)
Weeks 4-8 Challenge 1 Chemical Elements in the Real World
This challenge involves students researching suitable elements to fulfil various real world applications and investigating the properties of the elements they identify and explaining their function in terms of properties and position in the Periodic Table.
Week 4 Session on working effectively in a group. Peer assessment of contribution made by other team members to ‘Thinking outside the box’ challenge. (1 hour workshop)
Introduction to problems for Challenge 1. (1 hour lecture)
Week 5, 6 and 7 group work
Week 6 Opportunity to discuss problems (1 hour drop-in session and group work)
Week 7 Preparation of report presentation and posters. (1 hour drop-in session and group work)
Week 8 Plenary Feedback on Challenge 1 (2 hour presentation)
Weeks 9 (Aut) -1 (Spr) Challenge 2 Organic Chemistry - carbonyl chemistry
Students will research the reason behind the reactivity of the carbonyl group and will build on their existing knowledge of carbonyl reactions by classifying a set of given reactions into 1 of 3 general mechanism groups. These fundamental principles will be applied to a context based problem.
Week 9 Introduction to ChemDraw and preliminary work for workshop (2 hour lecture)
Week 10: Talk on ‘Avoiding Plagiarism’ and Turnitin and writing précis. Explanation of vacation work.(1 hour lecture)
Week 10 Opportunity to discuss preliminary work/ ChemDraw help (1 hour drop-in session)
Vacation Work: Students write an individual half page summary of an article accessed on Blackboard site.

Spring Term
Week 1 Workshop based on preliminary work for Challenge 2 (2 hour workshop)
Week 2 group work
Week 2: Talk on how to use a laboratory notebook. (1 hour)
Weeks 3-7 Challenge 3 Physical Chemistry - How spectroscopy can prove how many molecules fit in a matchbox.
Students will research topics such as moments of inertia, reduced mass, angular momentum etc and use their findings about rotational and infra-red spectroscopy to work out how many molecules would fit in a matchbox.
Week 3 Introduction to problems (2 hour lecture)
Week 4 Opportunity to discuss problems (1 hour drop-in session and group work)
Week 5 Opportunity to discuss problems (1 hour drop-in session and group work)
Week 7 Plenary Feedback on Challenge 3 (2 hour peer feedback on reports)
Each of the challenges will be set in context in an introductory talk. Students will be given a problem to solve based upon a specific topic which will be covered later in the first year chemistry course.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module will be delivered by introductory talks and videos for each topic. A Blackboard site will be provided giving links and information about all the resources recommended for solving the problem. Students will be expected to research and précis appropriate literature and to discuss findings within teams or by Wikis. Opportunities are built into the module for students to approach staff for guidance and feedback. Student feedback will be delivered at the plenary sessions for oral presentations and via written comments or podcasts on Blackboard for the formal report summaries.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 9 5
Practicals classes and workshops 2 2 4
Fieldwork 8 6
Guided independent study 26 32 6
Total hours by term 45 45 10
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:

Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 25
Project output other than dissertation 40
Oral assessment and presentation 25
Set exercise 10

Other information on summative assessment:
This module is continually assessed.
Each challenge will have a variety of assessment methods and criteria.
Thinking outside the box: Formatively assessed by peer and staff feedback on presentation. Contribution to wikis assessed by staff.
Challenge 1: A group A3 poster. Assessed by staff.
A 5 minute group presentation, summatively assessed by staff. Mark adjusted according to individual contribution to group determined by peer assessment.25%
Challenge 2 Assessed by feedback on preliminary work and completion of workshop.10%
Vacation work: A half page summary précis exercise summatively assessed by staff.25%
Challenge 3 Summatively assessed.40%
A group report: a summary of the nature of the problem, how they approached it, how they solved it, a description of their solution and an evaluation of confidence in their result - (guide 2,000 words per report).
Group mark for the report will be adjusted for each individual according to:
Anonymous peer assessment by other group members of the contribution made by the individual.
Students’ individual contributions to wikis on Blackboard will be assessed throughout the module.
Submission dates:
Poster and presentation Challenge 1Week 8 Autumn term
PrécisWeek 1 Spring term
Organic workshop, Challenge 2Week 2 Spring term
Group report and presentation Challenge 3Week 7 Spring term

Formative assessment methods:
Thinking out side the box – group work and presentation – week2/3
Team working workshop and feedback – week 4

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy.
The following penalties will be applied to coursework which is submitted after the deadline for submission:

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadine. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.
    (Please refer to the Undergraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Two extended individual summary reports to be written on topics other than the original ones (one may include the Analytical problem)

    Last updated: 7 May 2012

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