Module code: CHEM031

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to provide an overview of the state-of-the-art in polymer chemistry with an emphasis on the polymers that are being researched in the department.

Module provider


Module Leader

VARCOE John (Chemistry)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: F162

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Revision of basic polymer concepts.

  • Advanced polymer characterisation (GPC, light scattering, rheology, MALDI, Raman).

  • Heterogeneous polymerisations: Suspension, emulsion, and mini-/micro-emulsion polymerisations.

  • Copolymerisation: reactivity ratios and structural aspects.

  • Living polymerisation: anionic polymerisation and synthesis of diblock copolymers.

  • Controlled radical polymerisation: NMP, ATRP, RAFT.

  • Radical ring opening polymerisation: biodegradable polymers.

  • Metal mediated polymerisation methods: Ziegler-Natta and metallocenic polymerisation catalysts, ROMP and ADMET.

  • Polymers with inorganic main chains.

  • Polymer composites: integration of inorganic and organic materials.

  • Advanced polymer applications.

  • State-of-the-art research-related polymer chemistry including:

    • Post polymerisation modification;

    • Radiation-grafting and ionically conducting polymers;

    • Electronically conducting polymers: e.g. polyaniline, polythiophene, PEDOT;

    • Advanced phase behaviour: e.g. Flory-Huggins, and UCST.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination WRITTEN EXAM - 2 HOURS 70
Coursework COURSEWORK 15
Oral exam or presentation ORAL PRESENTATIONS 15

Alternative Assessment

Not available.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate new knowledge related to the chemistry, synthesis, characterisation, and application of state-of-the-art polymers. The examination will involve the application of some of this knowledge to unknown examples. The oral presentation assignment will involve a detailed literature search effort by the students to report on aspects of polymer science that have not been covered in the lectures.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Exam: 70%, 1.5 h (addresses learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4).

  • Coursework: 15%, maximum of 7,000 words (addresses learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4).

  • Oral presentation: 15%, 15 min length (addresses learning outcomes 1, 3).


Formative assessment

Practice problem sheets will be given out at regular intervals and parts of the course will be revisited where requried (i.e. if the practice problems reveal areas of lower student understanding).



The students will be given feedback on the items from the practice problem sheets that indicate a lower level of understanding. Feedback from the oral presentation element will involve a summary of the more successful literature search and presentation strategies (to be given to students at the end of the presentation session). The students will also be asked to provide peer-to-peer feedback on the structures and understanability of the presentations. Feedback from the coursework will be given individually to students and will include comments on their style of writing, structure of the report, and scientific content.


Module aims

  • This module aims to extend the fundamental aspects of polymer chemistry to state-of-the art concepts including aspects of polymer research being conducted in the department.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Critically reflect on state-of-the-art concepts in polymer chemistry KCT
2 Justify and apply an appropriate protocol to synthesise a target polymeric material KC
3 Critically assess how macromolecular structures relate to the properties of polymers KCT
4 Fully justify the use of a polymeric material for a target application

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 3

Lecture Hours: 30

Tutorial Hours: 2

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to develop knowledge of state-of-the-art polymers for advanced technologies. This module will include aspects of the high impact polymer science being conducted in the department. The polymer lecture notes for the FHEQ Level-5 module CHE2028 (Chemistry and Technology of Modern Materials) will be provided on SurreyLearn for background reading. The first 2 h or lectures of this module will revise the key points from CHE2028. The delivery is mainly lecture-based with practice problems given out at key points for formative assessment.


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • 3 h of lectures per week for 10 weeks;

  • 2 h of revision class covering some practice problems;

  • 3 h of group presentations (where the students learn from each others literature searches as all students are to be present for the whole of this session).

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 MRes 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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.