Module code: CHE3065

Module Overview

This is an optional module for students who wish to explore the vast and topical field of polymer technologies. This module builds upon the basic polymer concepts provided at Level-5 (especially CHE2038 Materials Chemistry: Fundamentals to Application). The module will provide an overview of advanced synthetic methods, complex polymer configurations and morphologies, and polymers and composite materials that are used in more advanced technologies (including multidisciplinary overlaps with engineering disciplines including aerospace and clean energy technologies).

Module provider

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Module Leader

VARCOE John (Chst Chm Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 78

Lecture Hours: 30

Tutorial Hours: 2

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 30

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Signposting of concepts taught at Level-4 and -5 to aid revision of fundamental knowledge;

  • Advanced polymer characterisation methods including: Raman spectro-microscopy, MALDI mass-spec, and dynamic mechanical analyses;

  • Advanced polymerisation methods including: heterogeneous (suspension, emulsion, and mini-/micro-emulsion), anionic living, controlled radical (e.g. NMP, ATRP, and RAFT), and metal mediated (e.g. Ziegler-Natta and metallocenic catalysts, ROMP, and ADMET);

  • Copolymerisation: reactivity ratios, structural aspects, fabrication of graft copolymers, and di-block synthesis;

  • Degradable polymers and polymer recycling;

  • Phase behaviour and self-assembly in polymers including liquid crystallinity;

  • Inorganic, heterocyclic, and engineering thermoplastics and their advanced applications;

  • Conjugated, electronically conducting, and semi-conducting polymers;

  • Polymer composites with added inorganic and organic materials (e.g. as used in modern commercial aircraft);

  • Polymer additives and blends.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 30
Examination Online ONLINE OPEN BOOK EXAM (4 HOURS) 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to allow students to demonstrate new knowledge related to the chemistry, synthesis, characterisation, and application of advanced polymers. The examination will involve the application of knowledge to unknown examples. The coursework 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:

  • In-semester coursework: 30%, maximum of 10 pages with specified font size and line spacing (addresses learning outcomes LO1, 3, and 5);

  • Exam: 70%, open book, 4 hours (addresses learning outcomes LO1, 2, 3, and 4).

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).


Students will be given feedback on the items from the practice problem sheets that indicate a lower level of understanding. Students will receive feedback from the coursework element in three strands: (1) Students will be informed of the most interesting polymer science reported in the submissions; (2) Student will be given an overview of the more successful literature search strategies; (3) Students will receive individual feedback on the structure and content of their reports.

Module aims

  • Extend upon the fundamental aspects of polymer chemistry to provide knowledge of more advanced concepts
  • Provide an overview of state-of-the-art synthetic methodologies, along with details on more complex polymer configurations and their characterisation
  • Introduce smart and high-performance polymers (and their composites) and their technologically important properties (including at the chemistry-engineering interfaces)

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of advanced concepts in polymers and their applications K
002 Apply an appropriate protocol to synthesise a target polymeric material KC
003 Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of macromolecular chemistry-property relationships K
004 Critically evaluate the use of the most appropriate polymeric material for a target application (i.e. suggest an application for given polymer and vice versa) KC
005 Be able to search and critically analyse the vast primary and secondary literature that encompasses the field of polymer chemistry CPT

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 knowledge of polymers for more advanced technologies. The material will build directly upon more basic concepts introduced at Level-5. 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 (average) per week for 10 weeks;

  • 2 h of revision tutorials covering some practice problems;

  • Practice problems and tests constitute 10 h of guided learning.

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: CHE3065

Other information

This optional Level-6 module builds upon the fundamental material delivered in Level-5 CHE2038 that is compulsory for all BSc Chemistry students. Appropriate to Level-6, there is a strong research-led element to this module. A portion of the content will cover topics that are being actively investigated in the University’s research laboratories (as polymer chemistry is a research specialty). Example research-led content include: graft co-polymers, controlled radical polymerisations, and conductive polymers.

The School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas: Each student will gain an awareness and appreciation of Sustainability and Global and Cultural Capability concepts via discussions that are distributed throughout the module alongside the relevant scientific content. These concepts including clean energy applications, degradable and recyclable polymers (circular economy), atom efficient synthesis, and the ethics and consequences of the wide use of single-use, throw-away polymers (in the so called “plasticene” era within the Anthropocene epoch). The students will also encounter content which discusses the development of materials that are used in devices that enable Digital Capabilities (e.g. conducting polymers). Extensive referencing to the most recent and important primary and secondary literature will be provided.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
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 2023/4 academic year.