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Unit information: Advanced Computational & Interdisciplinary Chemistry for Chemists in 2018/19

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 and student choice.

Unit name Advanced Computational & Interdisciplinary Chemistry for Chemists
Unit code CHEM30018
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Fermin
Open unit status Not open

CHEM20170, CHEM20180, CHEM20190, CHEM20480



School/department School of Chemistry
Faculty Faculty of Science


The course covers a range of disciplines that do not fall into traditional sectional divisions, including subjects that span the breadth of chemistry, intersect other disciplines (e.g. geochemistry, biochemistry) and highlight how chemistry underpins a wide range of modern science. The unit focuses on computational chemistry with an emphasis on modelling and on global biogeochemical cycles. The overall structure will comprise an initial module focusing on computational chemistry, representing one of the major tools/techniques that spans the discipline (and beyond) and is essential to addressing major scientific challenges. The course aims to provide a widening knowledge of interdisciplinary chemistry, which is appropriate for a BSc student and will enable progress to even more advanced aspects in a variety of areas of chemistry. This unit aims to develop (i) a deeper understanding of analytical techniques; (ii) an ability to reason through processes and interactions in complex biological and environmental systems; and (iii) an understanding of how chemistry underpins a wide range of other disciplines and its role in addressing major societal challenges.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Recognise the role of computational modelling in modern chemistry
  • Explain the way that quantum mechanics provides the theoretical basis for many key concepts in chemistry
  • Discuss biomolecular design, engineering and production
  • Describe the application of modern-day problems in biology and biotechnology
  • Explain the broader ethical, social & legal issues of biomolecular engineering
  • Explain how cutting edge analytical methodologies can be used to resolve previously intransigent biochemical and environmental processes
  • Explain how numerical modelling allows the complexity of chemical systems in the environment to be examined
  • Describe human impacts on the Earth's atmosphere, e.g. measurement of key species (analytical/spectroscopic), ideas about reactivity and lifetimes (kinetics, physical organic chemistry) and analysis of complex systems (thermodynamics, construction of simple models)
  • Recognise that different classes of living organism produce different structures of functionally important lipids which relate chemotaxonomically to their phylogenetic evolutionary origins.
  • Describe how structurally diagnostic lipids preserved in geologic sediments can be used as proxies to reconstruct past environments and climate change events.
  • Explain how stable isotope compositions can be used in tandem with characteristic lipid structures to probe environmental process in extinct and extant environments.
  • Discuss the processes that govern production and remineralisation of organic matter and control the CO2 content of the atmosphere (global carbon cycle)
  • Describe the impacts that human activity can have on the carbon budgets of natural ecosystems

Teaching details

The unit comprises lectures and workshops.

Assessment Details

Assessment will be based on 3 hours of written examination.

Reading and References

Recommended reading:

Atmospheric Change: An Earth System Perspective (Graedel, T. E.; Crutzen, Paul J.) Freeman, W. H., 1993. ISBN-10: 0716723328 (currently 2 copies in Chemistry library and 2 copies in Wills Memorial library)

Molecular Biology of the Cell (Alberts et al) Garland Science, 2007. ISBN-10: 0815341059 (currently 6 copies in Biological Sciences library, 31 copies in Medical library and 1 copy in Veterinary Sciences library)

The Earth System, 3rd Edition (Kump, Kasting and Crane) Prentice Hall, 2009. ISBN-10: 0321597796 (currently 4 copies in Geographical Sciences library and 9 copies in Wills Memorial library)

Molecular Quantum Mechanics, P. W. Atkins and R. S. Friedman, OUP, 2011 (currently 6 copies in Chemistry library)