Module code: CHE2038

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to provide the fundamental concepts related to materials chemistry: i.e. involving extended inorganic and organic structures (solid state chemistry and polymer chemistry, respectively). This includes an introduction to characterisation techniques that are more specific to materials chemistry (e.g. powder x-ray diffraction and mechanical testing).

Module provider


Module Leader

VARCOE John (Chm Proc Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 105

Lecture Hours: 10

Seminar Hours: 2

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 23

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Solid-State Chemistry (Inorganic Materials)

  • basic structures of ionic solids including important tertiary inorganic solids and molecular materials.

  • defect chemistry of crystals including a practice session on Kröger–Vink equations.

  • select properties and applications: Ion migration in solid electrolytes, solid state catalysis, Band Theory and the electronic properties of metals, semiconductors, insulators, and superconductors.

  • synthesis routes to inorganic solids. Electrode materials for lithium batteries.

  • basic X–ray Diffraction (XRD): Unit Cells, Systematic Absences, Bragg’s Law, Miller Indices. Powder XRD and the use of peak positions to solving the structures of simple orthogonal crystal systems (with practice problems).

  • an outline of other important characterisation techniques, including Neutron diffraction.

  • an introduction to magnetism including categories of magnetic properties (paramagnetism, diamagnetism, antiferro-, ferro- and ferri-magnetism). Variation in the Interaction of permanent magnetic dipoles and the Curie Law and Curie-Weiss Law. Characterisation by variable temperature magnetization measurements. Magnetic hysteresis, hard and soft magnets. Examples will be given throughout from solid state chemistry and molecular materials.

Polymer Chemistry (Organic Materials)

  • introduction to polymers and polymer nomenclature, history of polymer science.

  • polymers in solution – determination of molecular weight distribution.

  • polymer characterisation.

  • solid state polymer structure and properties (amorphous, semi-crystalline, crystalline), Tg, Tm, and Tc

  • step-growth polymerisation (polyesters, polyamides, isocyanates).

  • chain growth polymerisation (polyolefins).

  • ionic polymerisation (chain growth and ring opening polymerisation).

  • polymers of industrial and commercial importance: Elastomers and thermosets. Thermoplastics and fibres.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination Online ONLINE OPEN BOOK EXAM 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate new knowledge related to materials chemistry that involves the chemistry, synthesis, characterisation, and application of extended chemical structures. The assessment will involve the application of some of this knowledge to unknown examples. There is more content related to the solid-state chemistry (inorganic). as the polymer component is extended upon in the final year at both FHEQ Level 6 and 7: therefore, the MCQ test will cover only the solid-state chemistry material to align the amount of delivered content to the proportion of the module assessment (solid state chemistry is around 65% of both the delivered content and assessment). The in-class MCQ test will take place just after the solid-state chemistry lectures have taken place.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Exam: 70%, 1.5 h (addresses learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). All questions will be compulsory (there will be no question options to select from).

  • In-class MCQ test: 30%, 50 min (addresses learning outcomes 1, 4, 5).

Formative assessment

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


The students are given an indication of the MCQ results within 1 working week of the test. The following lecture session will then recover the aspects where weaker understanding is evident from the MCQ test results. Model answers to the practice problem sheets will be provided at the end of the course.

Module aims

  • Provide an introduction to polymer chemistry and solid state inorganic chemistry;
  • Extend knowledge of basic organic and inorganic chemistry (reactions, mechanism, characterisation and basic structures) to include macromolecules and extended inorganic structures;
  • Highlight the influence of chemistry on the structures and properties of organic and inorganic materials.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand the fundamental concepts related to both inorganic and organic materials K
002 Interpret characterisation and structural data of materials and apply this knowledge to the prediction of relevant properties and applications C
003 Demonstrate understanding of the various fundamental mechanisms of polymer formation K
004 Distinguish between the different synthetic routes used for the formation of inorganic materials and polymers and plan simple syntheses with the most appropriate methodology KC
005 Apply the basic principles of powder X–ray diffraction to calculate unit cell parameters of orthogonal inorganic crystal systems and identify the lattice types of cubic inorganic crystal systems using systematic absence rules KC

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to develop on the fundamental knowledge delivered at Level-4 and Level-5 (e.g. transition metal chemistry, organic reaction mechanisms, physical properties, industrial chemistry) and applies this knowledge to extended structures. The delivery is mainly lecture-based with practice problems given out at key points for formative assessment. The solid-state chemistry content will be delivered first followed by the polymer chemistry content.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  •  3 h of lectures (average) per week for 11 weeks;

  •  2 h of revision class in revision week covering some practice problems;

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
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: CHE2038

Other information


Programmes this module appears in

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

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 2021/2 academic year.