Module code: CHE2038

Module Overview

The students will gain understanding of the fundamental concepts behind materials involving extended inorganic and organic structures, along with their properties and applications (encompassing Sustainability and Global and Cultural Capabilities pillars). This includes an introduction to characterisation techniques that are more specific to materials chemistry (e.g. diffraction techniques, thermal analysis, mechanical testing, and characterisation of magnetic and conduction properties) compared to small molecule chemistry.

Module provider

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Module Leader

VARCOE John (Chst Chm 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: 72

Lecture Hours: 33

Tutorial Hours: 2

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 33

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

 Solid-state chemistry (inorganic materials):

  • Revision of basic inorganic structures from Level-4 and extension to more complex ternary and layered structures;

  • Defect chemistry, Kröger-Vink notation, and ion-migration;

  • Basic band theory and electronic properties (conductors, semiconductors, insulators);

  • Magnetic properties of solid and molecular materials;

  • Other applications: solid electrolytes, catalysis, Li-ion batteries (encompassing Sustainability and Global and Cultural Capabilities pillars);

  • Synthesis of inorganic materials;

  • Introduction to X-ray diffraction (XRD) including calculating a, b, c of unit cells with 90° angles and interpreting systematic absences in cubic systems, and why XRD fails (leading to the requirement for techniques such as Neutron Diffraction and Solid-State NMR).

Polymers (organic materials):

  • Introduction to polymers: polymer types, classification, and nomenclature;

  • Polymer structures and morphology (glass transition temperatures and crystallinity);

  • Polymer characterisation and testing (e.g. molecular weight distributions, thermo-mechanical properties);

  • Polymerisation mechanisms (including a revision of Level-4 organic chemistry concepts): step-growth, and free-radical and ionic chain-growth polymerisations;

  • Historic and modern industrial polymers including thermosets and elastomers (encompassing Sustainability and Global and Cultural Capabilities pillars);

  • Requisites needed to undertake a more advanced polymer chemistry module at Level-6.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
School-timetabled exam/test IN CLASS MCQ TEST (50 min) 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 materials chemistry that involves the chemistry, synthesis, characterisation, properties, and application of extended structures. The assessment will involve the application of some knowledge to unknown examples. There is more content related to inorganic materials as the polymer component is extended upon in the final year at Level 6. Therefore, the mid-semester in-class MCQ test will cover only the solid-state chemistry and magnetism content 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 and magnetism lectures have taken place.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • In-class MCQ test: 30%, 50 minutes (addresses learning outcomes LO1, 2, 3, 4, and 5);

  • Exam: 70%, open book, 4 hours (addresses learning outcomes LO1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6).

All questions in both the MCQ test and exam will be compulsory (no question options).

Formative assessment:

Practice problem sheets and formative tests (covering LOs 1 – 6) will be released 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 model answers to ONE prior exam paper will be given out to allow the students to benchmark their exam answering skills.


The students are given an indication of the MCQ results within one week of the test. A lecture following the MCQ test will re-cover the aspects where weaker understanding is evident from the MCQ test results. Model answers to the practice problem sheets and formative tests will be provided.

Module aims

  • Provide a revision of fundamental inorganic, organic and physical chemistry concepts from Level-4 compulsory modules.
  • Provide an introduction to polymer chemistry and solid-state chemistry by extending knowledge of basic, small molecule organic and inorganic chemistry concepts to include macromolecules and extended inorganic structures.
  • Highlight the influence of chemistry on the structures, morphology, properties, and applications of organic and inorganic materials.
  • Provide an introduction to X-ray diffraction and thermo-mechanical analysis techniques, which will be built upon in future modules (e.g. Level-6 polymer, physical and inorganic modules).

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand the fundamental concepts behind, and technological significance of, 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 (and vice versa). KC
003 Demonstrate an understanding of the various fundamental mechanisms of the formation of materials. 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
006 Further develop data interpretation and problem-solving skills. 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 on the fundamental knowledge delivered at Level-4 and applies this knowledge to extended structures. The delivery is mainly lecture-based with practice problems and tests given out at key points for formative feedback purposes. The solid-state chemistry content will be delivered first followed by the polymer chemistry content. Throughout the module, it will be highlighted to students that the move from small molecules to extended structures has large implications for their properties.

The learning and teaching methods include:

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

  • 2 h of revision seminars in revision week 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: CHE2038

Other information

The module builds upon fundamental concepts introduced to students in Level-4 modules. This module provides the fundamental concepts needed for the Level-6 module “Polymer chemistry, engineering and technology” (available to BSc Chemistry students as an option). The assessment of concepts introduced in this module (such as the introduction to diffraction techniques, conduction mechanisms, band theory, and semiconductors) will also aid students in subsequent Level-6 and Level-7 Inorganic and Physical Chemistry modules (including MChem distance learning modules taken by students during their PTY placements).

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: Sustainability concepts including clean energy applications (energy storage) and atom efficient synthesis; the environmental consequences of the wide use of polymers (in the so called “plasticene” era within the Anthropocene epoch) will be highlighted, with signposting to further reading and relevant future modules. Global and Cultural Capabilities, especially the issues of geopolitical and economic availability of key resources (e.g. ethics of cobalt mining in a small sub-Saharan zone) and potential solutions (e.g. the move to researching technologies containing more Earth abundant and widely distributed elements).

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry MChem 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Medicinal Chemistry BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation MChem 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Medicinal Chemistry MChem 1 Compulsory 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 2025/6 academic year.