Module code: CHE2034

Module Overview

- The aim of the module is to introduce students to the basic principles of radiochemistry, including nuclear stability and the nature of radioactive decay. Emphasis will be placed on methods for the measurement of radioactive isotopes in different materials together with the radiochemical separation techniques required in sample preparation. The concept of radiological dose, which forms the basis of radiological protection, will be covered in both the lectures and practical sessions.

Module provider


Module Leader

FELIPE-SOTELO Monica (Chemistry)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: F190

Module cap (Maximum number of students): 10

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

This module has a capped number and may not be available to ERASMUS and other international exchange students. Please check with the Global Engagement Office exchange and study abroad team.

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Origin of nuclear science; elementary particles; nuclei, nuclear structure and nuclear mass stability; radioactive decay, types, energy and properties; laws of radioactive decay, half-life and radioactive equilibria; nuclear reactions.

  • Detection and measurement of radioactivity; principles of detection; counting efficiency; types of detectors; instrumentation (gamma, alpha, mass spectrometry, LSC, imaging), primary standards, nuclear decay data

  • Radiochemical separations; sequestering of radionuclides, deposition, exchange and solvent extraction methods, sample preparation.

  • Statistics of radioactive decay; treatment of uncertainty

  • Dosimetry and radiological protection; interaction of radiation with matter, concept of dose, units and regulatory limits; biological effects of radiation, stochastic and deterministic effects; biological half-life; principles of radiation protection,

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 30

Alternative Assessment

Alternative Assessment N/A

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to demonstrate the students’:

  • Understanding of fundamental principles in radiochemistry.

  • Competence to perform fundamental calculations.

  • Capacity for independent/critical thinking by means of coursework.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Assessment of coursework (30%, of which 20% corresponds to a report on the practical work and 10% to a critical review of a research paper).

  • Written examination - 1.5 hours (70%)


    Formative assessment

    Contact time during the tutorial sessions will be employed to provide timely feedback to the students, to help them understand the requirements and to tackle any problems or the need for additional support to complete the module succesfully.



All the students will receive individual written feedback for their coursework where they will have the chance to ask questions directly of the teaching staff.


Module aims

  • Develop a thorough understanding of nuclear stability and the mechanisms of radioactive decay.
  • Familiarise the students with instrumental techniques used for the detection and quantification of radioactivity (gamma, alpha, mass spectrometry, liquid scintillation counting).
  • Convey statistical counting methods and the treatment of uncertainty in radiochemical measurements
  • Introduce the concept of radiological dose and the principles of radioactive protection.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Describe the different mechanisms of radioactive decay and the meaning of secular equilibrium K
2 Understand the principles behind the detection and quantification of radioactivity, identifying the most appropriate method of detection/analysis depending on the nature of the radiation and the intended application KCP
3 Understand the interaction of radiation with matter and the concept of dose KP
4 Describe the principles of radiological protection and exposure limits KP
5 Undertake calculations relating to counting statistics, radioactive half-life and equilibria, age determination and dosimetry KCT
6 Identify the main sources of radioactivity (natural and anthropogenic) in the environment and understand the biogeochemical processes that control the mobility of radionuclides KC

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Lecture Hours: 20

Tutorial Hours: 5

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Develop a knowledge of the fundamentals of radiochemistry and the measurement of radioactivity

  • Develop a good understanding of the concept of dose and the principles of radiological protection.

  • Provide a firm grounding for more advanced studies during the following years of study.


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Combination of lectures (20 hours), practical sessions (15 hours) and tutorials (5 hours).

  • During the tutorials the students will have the opportunity to work in small groups on calculations related to the lecture contents, to develop critical thinking and encourage deeper knowledge by participating in problem-solving and role play exercises.

  • Individual research evaluating peer-reviewed publications (coursework).

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Chemistry MChem 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation MChem 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2018/9 academic year.