Module code: CHEM041

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:

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.

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

    • controlled radical polymerisation: NMP, ATRP, RAFT.

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

    • graft Copolymers: Chemical grafting including Click Chemistry.

    • phase Behaviour.

    • polymer additives and blends.

    • polymer composites: integration of inorganic and organic materials.

    • advanced polymer applications.

    • conjugated polymers: polypyrrole and polyacetylene.

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

  • radical ring opening polymerisation: biodegradable polymers;

  • radiation-grafted polymers;

    • electronically conducting polymers.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination EXAMINATION (2 HOURS) 70
Oral exam or presentation ORAL PRESENTATION (SEMINAR STYLE) 15

Alternative Assessment

A Skype presentation (for staff only) may replace the Oral presentation (Seminar Style).

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 and coursework 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%, 2.0 h (addresses learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4).

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

  • Oral presentation: 15%, 15 min length (addresses learning outcomes 1, 3, 4).


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
001 Critically reflect on state-of-the-art concepts in polymer chemistry CKT
002 Justify and apply an appropriate protocol to synthesise a target polymeric material CK
003 Critically assess how macromolecular structures relate to the properties of CKT
004 Fully justify the use of a polymeric material for a target application CK

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 115

Lecture Hours: 30

Seminar Hours: 3

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 delivery is mainly lecture-based with practice problems given out at key points for formative assessment.


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Average of 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 other’s 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


Other information


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.