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Unit information: Big Ideas in Science in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Big Ideas in Science
Unit code CHEM10001
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Nick Norman
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Chemistry
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides a broad introduction to some of the fundamental ideas in science. It looks at the original ideas and concepts behind the discipline, the history and the people involved behind the main discoveries and /inventions. The implications or consequences of the scientific method? are explored as well as philosophical and ethical issues and the way different important approaches have built upon each other or interconnected. The remaining answered questions and ongoing research into fundamental issues, with a particular focus on research ongoing at the University will also be covered.

Aims The unit aims to provide an insight into some of the most significant scientific concepts and explore how these ideas have changed the way we think about the world. It aims to encourage students to be critical about the ideas presented – to think for themselves and discuss between themselves the scientific implications and ethical questions. The topics cover a broad range and draw upon expertise from across the entire Faculty of Science.

More specifically, the unit aims to introduce broad scientific ideas which may include such topics as – quantisation, imaginary numbers, climate change, relativity, symmetry and evolution.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Knowledge of fundamental scientific ideas.
  • An ability to talk about scientific ideas to others.
  • An understanding of the wider implications of scientific principles – to other disciplines and society.
  • An appreciation of the different sorts of scientific research that can be undertaken.
  • An appreciation for the different ways that a problem may be approached.
  • Knowledge of the concept of ‘uncertainty’ and how this pervades science and any measurement.
  • Experience in considering the philosophical and ethical implications of research.

Teaching Information

Lectures, discussion group workshops (classes of 10 students)

Assessment Information

Students will be assessed by coursework throughout the year (100%). Coursework will be centred around the discussion workshops. There is no examination for this unit.

To receive credit for this unit, students must make a reasonable attempt at every aspect of the teaching and assessment. Participation in the discussion workshops is an essential way of achieving and demonstrating the intended learning outcomes for the unit, and students must therefore also engage in these groups. Failure to do so may result in credit being withheld, even if the overall mark is above the pass mark for the unit. Supplementary or resit assessment of this unit is only possible through engagement in the following academic year.

Reading and References

To follow