Module code: CHE2041

Module Overview

This is an optional Level-5 that provides fundamental knowledge on the Principles of Radiochemistry. It complements some of the knowledge provided in compulsory Physical chemistry and Analytical Chemistry modules for all Chemistry Programs, as well as giving some ground knowledge to students following the Medicinal Chemistry program, interested in pharmacological development and production.

The module introduces students to the basic principles of radiochemistry, including nuclear stability and the nature of radioactive decay. Emphasis will be placed on methods for the measurement of radioactive isotopes together with the radiochemical separation techniques required for sample preparation. The concept of radiological dose, which forms the basis of radiological protection, will be covered in both the lectures and practical sessions.

Module provider

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Module Leader

FELIPE-SOTELO Monica (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: 80

Lecture Hours: 20

Tutorial Hours: 5

Laboratory Hours: 15

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 20

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • origin of nuclear science; elementary particles; nuclei, nuclear structure and nuclear mass stability; radioactive decay, types, energy and properties; laws of radioactive decay, half-life and radioactive equilibria; nuclear reactions.

  • detection and measurement of radioactivity; principles of detection; counting efficiency; types of detectors; instrumentation (gamma, alpha, mass spectrometry, LSC, imaging), primary standards, nuclear decay data

  • radiochemical separations; sequestering of radionuclides, deposition, exchange and solvent extraction methods, sample preparation.

  • statistics of radioactive decay; treatment of uncertainty

  • dosimetry and radiological protection; interaction of radiation with matter, concept of dose, units and regulatory limits; biological effects of radiation, stochastic and deterministic effects; biological half-life; principles of radiation protection,

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Practical based assessment Laboratory Exercise 1 10
Practical based assessment Laboratory Exercise 2 10
Examination Online 4HR OPEN BOOK EXAMINATION 80

Alternative Assessment

For the laboratory exercises an alternative written assessment can be set. This is based on analysing or explaining experimental data, or detailing experimental techniques

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

An understanding of fundamental principles in radiochemistry.

-  Competence in performing fundamental calculations.

 -  Capacity for independent/critical thinking by means of coursework.

  Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

-  Open-book examination (4h, 80%) – Learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.

During the examination students will need to demonstrate their understanding of the fundamentals of radiochemistry and the measurement of radioactivity as well as be able to complete calculations and demonstrate good knowledge of data handling, evaluation of uncertainty and counting statistics.

- Evaluation of laboratory experimental reports (total 20%) - Learning outcomes 2, 3 & 5.

Assessment of the laboratory reports will enable the evaluation of the students’ ability to safely handle radioactive sources, how to use monitor for the detection of radioactive contamination and operate basic instrumentation for the detection of radioactivity and, quantification and identification of radioisotopes, Moreover, they will have to show their capacity to apply critical thinking in the evaluation of the results.

Feedback and formative assessment

All the students will receive individual written feedback on their coursework (laboratory reports) and formative assessment during laboratory sessions. During the tutorials, students will be provided with more opportunities for formative assessment to improve in their calculation and problem-solving skills by presenting a variety of numerical problems and case studies, and students will discuss their work in small groups and will receive feedback from lecturers.

Module aims

  • Develop a thorough understanding of nuclear stability and the mechanisms of radioactive decay
  • Familiarise the students with instrumental techniques used for the detection and quantification of radioactivity (gamma-, alpha-counting, liquid scintillation counting, mass spectrometry)
  • Describe methods used in radiochemical separation
  • Convey statistical counting methods and the treatment of uncertainty in radiochemical measurements
  • Introduce the concept of radiological dose and the principles of radioactive protection

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Describe the different mechanisms of radioactive decay and the meaning of secular equilibrium K
002 Understand the principles behind the detection and quantification of radioactivity (K), identifying the most appropriate method of detection/analysis depending on the nature of the radiation and the intended application (C/P). KCP
003 Understand the interaction of radiation with matter (K) and the concept of dose (K/P) KP
004 Undertake calculations relating to counting statistics, radioactive half-life and equilibria, age determination and dosimetry KCT
005 Describe the principles of radiological protection and exposure limits KP

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:

- Introduce students to the fundamentals of radiochemistry and the measurement of radioactivity.

-  Develop a good understanding of the concept of dose and the principles of radiological protection.

-  Provide hands-on experience in a radiochemistry laboratory; including handling of closed radioactive sources, operation and calibration of the instruments for radioanalysis and use of monitors for radiological protection and estimation of dose.

-  Encourage students to develop their self-evaluation skills by describing the main sources of error during the practical experiments, nurturing problem-solving skills and critical thinking.

- Understand and apply calculations in radiochemistry during the practical sessions. This is reinforced with the tutorial sessions during which the students have an opportunity to revise in small groups the calculations

- Provide a firm grounding for more advanced studies during the following years of study.

The learning and teaching methods include:

Combination of lectures (20 hours), practical sessions (15 hours) and tutorials (5 hours). Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of radiochemistry and the measurement of radioactivity during the lectures. 

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: CHE2041

Other information

In addition to the theoretical knowledge during the lectures, the laboratory sessions provide students with very much sought-after hands -on experience in radiation monitoring, radiological protection as well a number of radioanalytical techniques, which will prove very valuable to enhance their Employability. Team-work and discussion are encouraged during the tutorials and experimental sessions and the students are challenged to develop and use their problem-solving skill to answer to practical and technical problems as well as apply critical thinking in the evaluation of their results. By doing, so we nurture Resourcefulness & Resilience in our students preparing them to be competent professionals.

During the lectures discussion is encouraged with regards isotope production and nuclear energy contribute to their awareness of Sustainability issues around best practices and energy production.

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 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

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.