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Unit information: Special Computational & Interdisciplinary Chemistry in 2015/16

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Unit name Special Computational & Interdisciplinary Chemistry
Unit code CHEMM0007
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Wyatt
Open unit status Not open

CHEM30001, CHEM30002 or CHEM30003



School/department School of Chemistry
Faculty Faculty of Science


This 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 comprises modules focusing on computational chemistry with an emphasis on modelling, chemical and synthetic biology, global biogeochemical cycles, molecular approaches to environmental processes and the human impact on the atmosphere. The overall structure will comprise: (i) an initial module focussing on computational chemistry, representing one of the major tools/techniques that spans the discipline (and beyond) and is essential to addressing major scientific challenges; (ii) followed by four 6-lecture modules that emphasise how analytical, computational, bioinformatic and other tools can be applied to specific intellectual challenges.

This unit 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. Key learning outcomes of the whole unit will be: (i) a deeper understanding of techniques; (ii) an appreciation of the complexity of biological and earth systems and an understanding of how computational and analytical tools can examine that complexity; (iii) an ability to reason through processes and interactions in complex biological and environmental systems; and (iv) an understanding of how chemistry underpins a wide range of other disciplines and its role in addressing major societal challenges. As such, this course will enthuse the students about the breadth and diversity of the discipline. A strong emphasis on computational and analytical techniques will also provide a vocational element and prepare students for a diversity of careers.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Understanding of the role of high-performance computing in modern chemistry
  • Understanding the role of electronic structure theory-based modelling in modern research
  • Development of practical skills associated with using computer models
  • Appreciation of the many aspects of biomolecular design, engineering and production
  • The application of modern-day problems in biology and biotechnology
  • Consideration of the broader ethical, social & legal issues of biomolecular engineering
  • Understanding of the complexity of chemical systems in the environment
  • Understanding of how numerical modelling allows such complexity to be examined
  • Awareness and understanding of important biologically-mediated redox reactions
  • Understanding of how cutting edge analytical methodologies can be used to resolve previously intransigent biochemical and environmental processes
  • Understanding of how numerical modelling allows the complexity of chemical systems in the environment to be examined

Teaching details

Lectures, computer-based exercises and workshops.

Assessment Details

Assessment will be based on practical work associated with computer-based exercises (formative and assessed as pass/fail), three hours of written examination (100%) Students will also have to complete a critical evaluation of the research presented (2500 words) on a related topic delivered during the School’s symposia. This will be marked pass/fail and feedback will be provided.

Reading and References

Further reading will be from the following books:

Atmospheric Change: An Earth System Perspective (Graedel, T. E.; Crutzen, Paul J.) Freeman, W. H., 1993. ISBN-10: 0716723328; Molecular Biology of the Cell (Alberts et al) Garland Science, 2007. ISBN-10: 0815341059; The Earth System, 3rd Edition (Kump, Kasting and Crane) Prentic Hall, 2009. ISBN-10: 0321597796; Molecular Quantum Mechanics, P. W. Atkins and R. S. Friedman, OUP, 2011; Introduction to Computational Chemistry, F. Jensen, Wiley, 2011.