CH2301: Training in Research Methods

School Cardiff School of Chemistry
Department Code CHEMY
Module Code CH2301
External Subject Code F100
Number of Credits 20
Level L6
Language of Delivery English
Module Leader Dr Mark Elliott
Semester Autumn Semester
Academic Year 2020/1

Outline Description of Module

This is a module of practical work, designed to familiarise learners with advanced research techniques used for experiments of a synthetic and/or instrumental nature, and with professional applications of information technology.

The module will also include exercises designed to develop skills in entrepreneurship, critical analysis, problem-solving, oral and written communication, and to enhance students’ employability.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

  1. use equipment appropriate to the experiments in a safe and correct way;
  2. obtain and act upon safety and hazard information for chemicals and chemical procedures;
  3. recognise the relationship between spectroscopic properties (NMR and UV/vis) and molecular structure and symmetry.
  4. summarise, explain and critically discuss the results by explaining the chemical principle behind each experiment;
  5. write a concise report on all results obtained.

How the module will be delivered

132 h (44 x 3 h) laboratory classes, plus 11 h of seminars / workshops

Skills that will be practised and developed

Intellectual skills

a) draw conclusions about reaction mechanisms from the combination of experimental and spectroscopic data;

b) relate the experimental data to the underlying theory;

c) analyse problems and identify the critical decisions needed in designing approaches to solutions.

Chemistry-specific skills

a) prepare, isolate and purify organic and inorganic compounds using standard procedures;

b) manipulate air-sensitive compounds under an inert atmosphere;

c) prepare and isolate aqueous coordination compounds;

d) obtain and interpret IR and UV/vis spectra of organic and transition-metal compounds;

e) interpret NMR spectra of organic compounds and hence assess critically the outcome of a reaction;

f) assess the risks associated with the use of chemicals and apparatus;

g) record experimental data in an organised manner and present a written report and oral discussion clearly and concisely;

h) determine the most appropriate format for presentation of experimental data;

i) show scientific judgement and ability to select appropriate experiments to tackle a problem.

Transferable skills

a) write a concise and accurate report on a specified topic;

b) use appropriate software in calculation and modelling of structures and properties of substances;

c) analyse information critically and provide a critical report;

d) work more effectively in a team;

f) orally present solutions to problems, and argue cases for a particular outcome.

How the module will be assessed

This module will be assessed continuously on the basis of written reports, samples of compounds prepared, spectroscopic and analytical data, and performance in the laboratory.  There will also be contributions from an oral presentation, and assessment of the performance of small groups of students in the commercialisation exercise.


Practical work cannot be repeated after the scheduled time for the module is over. Reassessment for the module will therefore involve completing the written assessments based, either on the student’s own data or on data supplied for the experiments.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs)
Practical-Based Assessment 90 Laboratory Work And Written Reports N/A
Written Assessment 10 Key Skills Exercises N/A

Syllabus content

Synthetic chemistry will include the preparation of a range of compounds on small and medium scale. Reactions will involve organic, organometallic and coordination compounds, manipulation of air-sensitive compounds, and characterisation and analysis using NMR, IR, UV and other techniques as appropriate.

Physical chemistry will include measuring fast kinetics using stopped flow methods, spectroscopy (rotation-vibration), surface analysis using data from x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, scanning tunnelling microscopy and temperature programmed desorption and contact angle measurements.

Application of information technology in chemistry – molecular modelling.

Essential Reading and Resource List

E. W. Abel, M. A. Bennett, R. Burton, G. Wilkinson, J. Chem. Soc1958, 4559.

J. D. Dunitz, P. Pauling, Helv. Chim. Acta1960,43, 2188.

Comprehensive Organometallic Chemistry, Vol. 3, Chapter 27.2.

S. J. Lippard, D. Ucko,Inorg. Chem1968,7, 1051.

S. J. Lippard, K. M. Melmed, InorgChem.1967,6, 2223.

T. J. Marks, J. R. Kolb, Chem. Rev197777, 263

Cotton, Wilkinson & Gaus, 2nd Edition, p 446

A. de Jong, J. Niemantsverdriet, Surface Science1990,233, 355-365.

D. A. King, Surface Science197547, 384

M. C. Daniel, D. Astruc, Chem. Rev. 2004, 104, 293.

J. Zhang, G. Chen, D. Guay, M. Chaker, D. Ma, Nanoscale, 6 (2014) 2125.

C. Liu, X. Chen, Y. Hu, T. Sham, Q. Sun, J. Chang, X. Gao, X. Sun, S. Wang, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 5 (2013) 5072.

P. Zhang, R. Li, Y. Huang, Q. Chen, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 6 (2014) 2671.

C. Chiu, P. Chung, K. Lao, C. Liao, M. H. Huang, J. Phys. Chem. C 116 (2012) 2357.

P. Zhang, Y. Sui, G. Xiao, Y. Wang, C. Wang, B. Liu, G. Zou, B. Zou, J. Mater. Chem. A 1 (2013) 1632

D J Graham, N G Midgley, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms25 (2000) 1473-1477.

Background Reading and Resource List

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

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