CH3PRA-Advanced Laboratory Skills

Module Provider: Chemistry
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Only available for students from NUIST on the BSc Applied Chemistry (3+1 route)
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Peiyi Li


Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module is designed to provide students with advanced practical skills in chemistry and incorporates organic, inorganic and physical disciplines.


To give the students training in advanced practical techniques and also teach the students to orally discuss their experimental findings to an instructor under examination conditions. The course is split into three sections to reflect the disciplines of organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. The training provided ranges from specific techniques required for synthesis of both organic and inorganic compounds, to quantitative measurements, characterisation and the use of specific instrumentation. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

Students will be able to:

• State the risks of undertaking a particular experimental procedure and complete an appropriate COSHH assessment.

• Carry out advanced laboratory procedures safely.

• Make accurate observations and measurements and record them clearly.

• Evaluate results from experiments and provide explanation for any experimental outcome.

Additional outcomes:

The students will be able to work efficiently in small groups and will be able to plan their time effectively. Students will refine numeracy and IT skills. Students will become familiar with using and citing chemical literature, and will develop written communication skills in preparation for their major project the following term.

Outline content:

The course is arranged into blocks of organic, inorganic and physical practical classes. Due to the arrangement of the academic year the practical timetable will be as follows:

Week 1: Organic - the first week is to allow students to become accustomed to working in a laboratory and will not count towards the overall module mark.

Week 2: Organic

Weeks 3 – 5: Inorganic

Week 6: Inset week

Weeks 7 – 8: Organic

Weeks 9 – 11: Physical

Organic (Andrew Russell and Chris Smith)

Experiments will cover the synthesis, purification and characterisation of a number of organic molecules. The syntheses are designed to reflect the 3rd year course content and will include preparation and use of an organometallic reagent, a 4-step mini-synthesis and the preparation and use of a highly reactive intermediate. In all cases the compounds will be fully characterised according to the standard required for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Inorganic (Franti Hartl and Peiyi Li)

Experiments will cover synthesis, purification and characterisation of iron and nickel nitrosyl complexes, peroxido and superoxido dicobalt complexes and a zeolite. The methods used for structural determination will include IR and Raman spectroscopy, NMR and EPR spectroscopy, atomic absorption spectroscopy and powder X-ray diffraction.

Physical (RA Bennett and Joanne Elliott):

Experiments will cover quantitative aspects of physical chemistry including: a systematic study of the electrochemical properties of low index platinum single crystal surfaces by cyclic voltammetry in acidic conditions; an evaluation of the sublimation energy of iodine by the absorption of visible light by iodine vapour at equilibrium with the solid, with an introduction to statistical mechanics within the analysis; and either the fabrication and characterisation of simple dye sensitised solar cells or the synthesis and optical properties of gold nanoparticles with an analysis of surface plasmon excitations.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
1 x 9 hour introductory practical class.
3 x 9 hours in each discipline as indicated above.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Practicals classes and workshops 90
Guided independent study 110
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 90
Set exercise 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Practical work will be assessed in each rotation through a set of pre-lab questions, lab notebook and written reports, including work in the laboratory.


Pre-lab questions: 10% overall marks per rotation for all parts (10% in total).

Lab notebook: 10% overall marks per rotation for organic and physical parts (10% in total).

Reports: 80% overall marks per rotation for organic and physical parts (80% in total);

                70% overall marks for inorganic part (70% in total).

Practical skills: 20% overall marks for inorganic part (20% in total).

Practical work Pre-lab questions/lab notebook/Practical skills /Reports/: 33.3% per rotation.


Submission dates:

Organic: The students will submit the lab notebook weekly prior to starting the next experiment. The first week will not count towards their marks and will serve as a trial so the students know what is expected. The students will submit their organic lab report by a date set by teaching staff in charge of the organic section.

Inorganic: Work will be submitted by a date set by teaching staff in charge of the inorganic section.

Physical: To be submitted in the first week of the Spring term.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    An overall pass mark of 40%.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    If a student should fail the programme overall, reassessment of this module will be by a practical examination in August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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