CH3IND-MChem Industrial Placement

Module Provider: Chemistry
Number of credits: 120 [60 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn, Spring and Summer
Non-modular pre-requisites: Part 2 Chemistry
Modules excluded:
Placement opportunity: Maxi placement
Module version for: 2012/3

Module Convenor: Dr Andrew Russell


To give students experience of working in the chemical industry and to introduce advanced aspects of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry through distance learning. In addition, students will undertake an industrial research project.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Students are expected to develop an appreciation of the subject material covered by distance learning. In particular, students should become familiar with the chemistry of organometallic compounds, inorganic cluster compounds and X-ray powder diffraction. They should gain an appreciation for the utility and practicality of transition metal mediated reactions in organic synthesis; develop awareness of the biological and chemical significance of amino acids and understand the principles and applications of frontier molecular orbital theory in organic chemistry. Students should understand the factors determining surface solubility and reactivity and the computational methods used to study these phenomena; be able to discuss liquid interfaces, be able to compare and contrast lyophobic and lyophilic colloidal systems and describe their properties and behaviour; be able to discuss polymer architectures, conformations and morphologies; rheological investigation of polymers and their application to nanotechnology. Students will assimilate this material according to a timetable and carry out coursework assessments on each of the topics. In addition, students will carry out a major research project, write a comprehensive report and present their findings orally. Students should also be able to discuss and defend the findings from this project work.

Additional outcomes:
Students will develop an understanding of the workings of the chemical industry, and will become competent in key professional skills such as team working, problem solving, and oral and written communication.

Outline content:
The nature of the project will vary widely depending on the company hosting the student.

Distance Learning Material Content

INORGANIC (Spring Term):
F. Hartl (lecture equivalent - 5) - Organometallics Part 2
Introduction to organic derivatives of the transition metals. The transition metal-carbon bond. 1-C ligands; classification of C-ligands. Modes of decomposition, strategies for preventing decomposition. Kinetically stabilised alkyls, aryls and other 1-C ligands. Metal carbonyls: synthesis, structures, bonding and reactions.
M J Almond (5) - Cluster compounds
Cluster and cage compounds; shapes of clusters; boranes: classification, bonding (Wade's Rules), 11B NMR spectroscopy; carboranes; boron sub-halides: preparation, structure; transition metal carbonyl clusters: Fe, Ru and Os trinuclear clusters; Co, Rh and Ir tetranuclear clusters; carbido-metal carbonyl clusters, multinuclear NMR and IR spectroscopy; gold-phosphine clusters.
A. M. Chippindale (5) - X-ray Powder Diffraction
Students will be introduced to this very important technique in solid-state analysis. The basic theory underpinning the method will be examined and its implementation in a modern instrument will be discussed. How the method can be used to determine important structural parameters of microcrystalline solids will then be illustrated.

ORGANIC (Autumn Term):
L. M. Harwood (5) – Frontier Molecular Orbital Theory
The theory underpinning this fundamental interpretation of the reactivity of a large class of organic molecules will be explained then its application to real cases studied.
G Brown (5) - Amino acid and peptide synthesis
A basic survey of the chemistry of amino acids focusing, in particular, on N- and C-terminal protection and C-activation will be covered. Application of these methods to peptide coupling in solution and in the solid phase will be examined.
A. T. Russell (5) - Advanced Organometallic Chemistry
Principles and special features of organic reactions catalysed by transition metal complexes will be discussed. The course will focus on key coupling processes such as the Suzuki, Heck and Stille reactions. We will discuss the mechanism of these reactions and how such knowledge can be used in optimising their performance.

PHYSICAL (Summer Term):
J M Elliott (5) - Colloids
Lyophobic colloids, preparation methods, colloid stability and DVLO theory.
G Held (5) - The Solid-Gas Interface
Solid surfaces and their interaction with the gas phase: scientific and technological importance. Chemical and physical adsorption processes. Adsorption isotherms and models thereof, including critical consideration of the ideas behind the Langmuir isotherm. Experimental techniques for studying surface structure and composition: LEED, STM and AFM
I W Hamley (5) - Polymers
Polymer chain conformation, molar mass determination, ideal and non-ideal polymer solutions, polymer conformation in good, poor and theta solvents, Flory-Huggins theory for polymer solutions/blends.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
One-year placement at an industrial host; distance learning assignments. Two x 2 hour revision sessions in the autumn term of Year 4 to prepare for distance learning examination.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Practicals classes and workshops 4
External visits 4 4 4
Placement 396 396 392
Total hours by term 400 400 400
Total hours for module 1200

Summative Assessment Methods:

Method Percentage
Written exam 25
Dissertation 30
Project output other than dissertation 10
Oral assessment and presentation 10
Set exercise 25

Other information on summative assessment:
Relative percentage of coursework: 75%
Distance learning coursework assignments: 25%
Supervisor's assessment of project: 10%
Project report: 30%
Oral presentation of results of project: 10%
Relative percentage of examinations: 25%
Examination of distance learning material
(Closed book examination in October of Part 4)
Submission dates:
Organic Chemistry assignments, Friday 4th January; Inorganic Chemistry assignments, Friday 5th April; Physical Chemistry assignments, Monday 1st July. Project report, by agreement with the host institution, but no later than 31st August.

Formative assessment methods:
Students will receive feedback on their distance learning work both in terms of marked work and in the four hours of revision workshops upon their return to Reading. All students placed in the UK will receive three visits from their academic supervisor during their placement, each visit lasting approximately half-a-day. During these visits they will present their work and be able to discuss this with their academic supervisor. Students placed abroad will be visited on not less than one occasion.

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:
    3 hours

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    It is not possible to retake this module as it involves an industrial placement that cannot be repeated.

    Last updated: 7 May 2012

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