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Unit information: Building Blocks of Chemistry in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Building Blocks of Chemistry
Unit code CHEM10013
Credit points 40
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Chris Adams
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Chemistry
Faculty Faculty of Science


Building Blocks of Chemistry aims to focus on the core knowledge and skills that underpin a degree in Chemistry. These are centred around three key themes:

  • Structure
  • Change
  • Analysis

These in turn will be broken down into eight components: Models; Periodicity; Shape 1; Shape 2; Reactivity 1; Reactivity 2; Characterisation; and Molecular Orbital Festival.
In teaching these themes, we aim to emphasise skills/problem solving over knowledge, to form explicit link between seemingly disparate content, and to show how chemistry addresses world problems.

To ensure that chemistry students have the skills and knowledge to underpin their study of chemistry.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students should be able to:

  • Analyse systems and data to predict and rationalise reactivity
  • Infer atomic structure and properties from the periodic table
  • Critique, compare, appraise and apply different scientific models
  • Accurately draw, model and predict molecular shape
  • Identify molecules and their behaviour from data and spectra
  • Discuss how chemistry can help solve real-life problems

Teaching details

We aim to use a blended learning approach involving a mixture of lecture, online resources, individual student led enquiry and team-based student led enquiry. Embedded within the unit we will use cornerstone and capstone components to address the role of chemistry in addressing global problems (e.g., Climate Change, Energy, Plastic Fantastic?, Health, How things work/Technology, Nanotechnology). The synoptic questions that will be use in the end-of-year exam will come exclusively from these capstone/cornerstone components.

Summary of approximate student workload:

Self-study and continuous assessment: 24 x 13 hours: 312 hours

Lectures/lecture equivalents: (24 x 3): 72 hours

Tutorials/workshops: 16 x 1 hours: 16 hours

Total: 400 hours

Assessment Details

Assessment for learning/Formative Assessment

Students will complete regular marked exercises as part of tutorials/workshops. Tasks leading to summative coursework will also be underpinned by either staff-led or peer-to-peer formative feedback.

Assessment of learning/'Summative Assessment

The unit will be assessed by coursework (50%) and a single timed, open-book end-of-year exam (50%). The exam will employ synoptic questions drawn from the cornerstone and capstone components of the unit problem-based chemistry questions. The coursework will be by means of:

• A number of small computer-marked tests, each contributing a percentage of the overall mark.
• Lab-report style extended writing report.
• Assessed group work - team-based exercise leading to a assessed group poster/infographic.

Reading and References

Recommended - Chemical Structure and Reactivity: An integrated approach, by James Keeler and Peter Wothers, 2nd edition, OUP, 2014.