CH3105: Techniques and Methods in Chemistry

School Cardiff School of Chemistry
Department Code CHEMY
Module Code CH3105
External Subject Code F100
Number of Credits 10
Level L4
Language of Delivery English
Module Leader Dr Louis Luk
Semester Double Semester
Academic Year 2019/0

Outline Description of Module

The module develops a range of skills essential for the chemistry undergraduate. Fundamental scientific concepts, general laboratory methods, fundamental methods of calculation in chemistry and mathematical methods are covered in lectures. 

On completion of the module a student should be able to

Knowing (these are things that all students will need to be able to do to pass the module):

  • The fundamental safety requirements for laboratory work.
  • How to carry out calculations used in general laboratory work.
  • How to use fundamental units and name chemicals 
  • How to perform basic laboratory procedures.
  • The principles and applications of mathematics in chemistry.
  • CV writing.


Acting (Performance in this area will enable students to achieve more than a basic pass):

  • Balance chemical equations.
  • Calculate errors and their propagation.
  • Measure distances and angles using vectors.
  • Perform algebra with complex numbers and use Argand diagrams.
  • Find and characterize turning points in one and two dimensions.
  • Apply integration by parts and by substitution.
  • Solve first- and second-order differential equations.
  • Apply probability distributions, sampling and hypothesis testing.
  • Write a CV targeted to a specific job description.


Being (Performance in this area will enable students to achieve more than a basic pass):

  • Apply the knowledge from this course to real situations encountered in all areas of a chemistry degree, including the laboratory.

How the module will be delivered

The module will consist of 40 lectures across both semesters plus 2 tutorials. Many of the lectures will include periods during which the students work on exercises set during the lecture.

Skills that will be practised and developed

The students will develop and practice skills fundamental to the rest of their chemistry degrees. These skills will allow them to make all the required calculations related to carrying out laboratory work as well as allowing them to understand the mathematical content of other modules.

How the module will be assessed

Formative Assessment:There will be weekly exercises set on line related to the lecture content from that week in addition to the exercises carried out in the lectures. There will also be a tutorial on a careers exercise and a presentation.

Summative Assessment:There will be two assessments linked to the lectures: an on-line test in the autumn semester and a written class test in the spring semester. There will also be a tutorial on a careers exercises and a presentation. An assessment of the student’s laboratory notebooks will also contribute to this module.




There will be a written assessment to be completed in the student’s own time covering the areas of the module in which the student achieved low marks.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs)
Class Test 60 Mathematics For Chemists N/A
Laboratory Work 40 Techniques And Methods In Chemistry N/A

Syllabus content

General Laboratory Methods

Use of general laboratory equipment and safety considerations.

COSHH and risk assessment forms.

Units and dimensions.

Terminology of methods and techniques in quantitative manipulations.

The mole and stoichiometry.

Preparation of solutions of a given concentration.

Balancing unseen half equations and redox equations.

Titration techniques and purpose of analysis.

The nature and use of buffer solutions and indicators.

Precision and accuracy.

Significant figures, errors and their propagation.

Mathematical Methods

Geometry: Measuring distances and angles from vectors.

Matrices for vector transformations: Illustrated with crystal structure data and molecular structures.

Complex number algebra and argand diagrams: Illustrated with wavefunctions.

Differentiation of common functions and their products.

Maxima and minima of functions: Illustrated with atomic orbital functions.

Power series of common functions

Integration of common functions, use of limits.

First order differential equations: Illustrated with rate equations.

Second order differential equations, solution by trial function and use of boundary conditions.

Statistics: probability and the random walk; probability distributions; sampling and hypotheses.

Communication and Study Skills

CV writing

Information retrieval

Use of scientific software (inc. drawing packages)

Essential Reading and Resource List

G. Doggett & M. Cockett, Maths for Chemists, 2nd Edition, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2012, ISBN 978-1-84973-359-5.

Background Reading and Resource List

There is no specific background reading and resource list for this module.

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