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Unit information: Advanced Chemical Characterisation Summer School in 2021/22

Unit name Advanced Chemical Characterisation Summer School
Unit code CHEM20003
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Davis
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Chemistry
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

The aim of this unit is to introduce current international Chemistry undergraduate students to practical aspects of the acquisition and processing of data from advanced analytical instruments. The unit has been carefully designed to provide a balance between lab-based synthesis/characterisation experiments, computational data analysis/interpretation workshops and hands-on access to advanced instrumentation (NMR/MS/EM/AFM/X-ray).

The unit is taught via practical-based laboratory sessions and skills-based workshops in conjunction with language classes. In their Academic English for Chemistry classes, students will learn the technical and discipline-specific language required to complete a series of experiments with associated instrument-based data acquisition and analysis workshops in the afternoon. Upon completion of the summer school, students will be equipped with the language skills necessary to explain (in written and oral form) the details of their experiments, instrument work and learn the correct forms of expression for sharing their work in an English-language context.

It is envisaged that, in addition to the instrument-specific skills, the unit will help develop a wide range of skills required for all chemical science students as well as transferable skills such as group work, problem solving and scientific communication.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

1) Demonstrate a practical understanding of sample preparation and analysis using advanced instruments.

2) Competently and safely perform key laboratory skills and procedures.

3) Record and report laboratory work in discipline specific Academic English.

4) Use discipline-specific software packages to retrieve and analyse chemical and structural information.

5) Effectively communicate experimental results for the appropriate audience(s) and purpose(s).

6) Work in pairs and groups to prepare, present and review written work and presentations.

Teaching Information

  • Individual pre-lab work to prepare for the academic language and practical skills used in the next experiment, including quizzes (pre-lab and safety tests delivered on-line), arithmetical and chemical tasks, and online experimental simulations.
  • Practical chemistry experiments in our teaching laboratories, supported by a postgraduate demonstrator (1 for every 8 students) responsible for that experiment.
  • Hands-on sample analysis on advanced instruments in our state-of-the-art facilities.
  • Post-lab work involves formative self-assessment about the student’s own performance, with the demonstrator providing a reply as dialogic feedback that can be used as feedforward for subsequent experiments. The student also prepares a written report (or part thereof) about the experiment that has been performed, which is formatively peer-assessed.
  • Individual / pair / group academic language and literacy workshops, using bespoke material based upon the lab work, including peer review of pre- and post-lab work (from above), quizzes, and group presentations.
  • Workshops led by academic teaching staff delivering instruction and practice at the use of online resources and software packages for data analysis.

Assessment Information

The unit will be assessed through a combination of assessed laboratory work (50%: ILOs 1, 2, 3 and 4) and written and oral reports delivered in the final week (50%; ILOs 1, 3, 5 and 6).

For the assessed practical work, demonstrators will watch the students performing the experiments and make a holistic judgement of their performance of the intended learning outcomes associated with each experiment against a 21-point mark scheme, and will also provide some written feedback; the students are also asked to do this, enabling a feedback dialogue to take place.

In the first two weeks this will be formative, and only the marks from the final week will go towards the final grade.

The final-week report written assessment will be a laboratory report of no more than 5 pages length about one of the experiments involving advanced characterisation from the second week of the course, and will be the culmination of a series of formative assessment activities designed to provide peer- and teacher- feedback.

Reviewing each others' work and providing feedback is a crucial component of the process, allowing students to not only practice these skills, but also allowing them to improve their own work by comparison with others. The reports will be submitted early in the week, allowing time for preparation of the presentations, which are delivered in a supportive atmosphere to the remainder of the cohort, and which form part of a celebratory final day of the course.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. CHEM20003).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.