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Unit information: Mathematical Skills for Chemists in 2017/18

Unit name Mathematical Skills for Chemists
Unit code CHEM10900
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Charmant
Open unit status Not open



CHEM10600 Introductory Chemistry

School/department School of Chemistry
Faculty Faculty of Science


A thorough understanding of basic mathematical concepts and confidence in their application in solving physical problems is essential for anyone studying chemistry. This unit, which is intended for those students who already have an A-level, or equivalent qualification, in Maths will allow students to learn how to apply their existing mathematical skills to problems in chemistry. It will also cover the additional material not previously covered that is essential for the study of chemistry. At all stages, the mathematical concepts covered will be put in the context of chemical problems. The unit will be taught through a combination of masterclasses and surgeries. Successful completion will ensure that chemistry students have the mathematical knowledge, understanding and skills to support their study of chemistry at all levels.


To ensure that chemistry students have the mathematical knowledge, understanding and skills to support their study of chemistry at all levels.

Intended learning outcomes

The unit will allow students to:

" develop confidence in the use of existing mathematical knowledge and skills, gained from A-level, or other equivalent pre-University qualifications

" become proficient in the use of maths to solve problems in chemistry

" become familiar with the material not currently included in conventional A-level, or equivalent qualifications that is necessary for chemistry

" gain an understanding of how maths is used by chemists to develop and test models that represent theories

Teaching details

The development of the confidence and ability to apply existing mathematical knowledge and understanding to problems in chemistry will require students to work independently. It is therefore anticipated that students will devote up to 4 hours per week in supported self study. Students will be expected to use the course materials provided, as well as other resources such as text books, to revise their existing knowledge and to practice applying it to problems in chemistry. Feedback will then be provided through a mandatory 2-hour masterclass, during which a member of academic staff will work through the problems previously set in order to clarify any problems encountered by the students. An optional 1-hour surgery each week will provide any students who have particular problems with an additional opportunity to receive support. These sessions will both take place on Thursday afternoons, meaning that the new unit will not impose any additional restrictions on the choice of other units available to Chemistry students.

Summary of approximate student workload:

Self-study: 24 � 4 hours: 96 hours

Masterclasses: 24 � 2 hours: 48 hours

Surgeries: 24 � 1 hour: 24 hours

Examinations: 3 hours

Revision time: 25 hours

Total 196 hours

Assessment Details

Formative Assessment:

Students will complete, and be provided with feedback upon, weekly problem sheets. These problem sheets will be supported by masterclasses, with optional surgeries for those students who might have particular, individual problems that require additional support.

Summative Assessment:

1-hour written Progress Examination (20%)

2-hour written Examination (80%)

Reading and References

Essential reading will be from the following books:

The Chemistry Maths Book, 2nd Edition, E Steiner, Oxford University Press 2008.

Mathematics for Chemistry, 2nd Edition, P Monk and LJ Munro, Oxford University Press 2010.

Further reading will be from the following books:

Atkins’ Physical Chemistry, 10th Edition, P W Atkins and J de Paula, Oxford University Press 2014.

Organic Chemistry, 2nd Edition, J Clayden, N. Greeves, S Warren, Oxford University Press, 2012.

Inorganic Chemistry 6th Edition, M Weller, T Overton, J Rourke and F Armstrong, Oxford University Press 2014.