Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Advanced Key Skills for MSc students
Code CHEM495
Coordinator Dr JW Gaynor
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2022-23 Level 7 FHEQ First Semester 7.5

Pre-requisites before taking this module (or general academic requirements):



This module aims to develop essential skills that MSc students will need for both the duration of the programme and beyond, whether this be further education opportunities (ie., PhD) or employment in a wide range of chemical and non-chemical based sectors.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) By the end of the molecular modelling section of the module, a successful student will have gained:
• a qualitative understanding of ab initio, semi-empirical and empirical models, knowing which model is suitable for a particular type of problem;
• some experience of modelling intermolecular forces and complexes .

(LO2) By the end of the employability section of the module, students will be able to
* self-evaluate their employability needs
* design the types of activities they need to complete for improving employability
* deliver a presentation
* construct a portfolio of evidence

(LO3) By the end of the module, students should be able to use scientific databases effectively for literature and citation searches and to find relevant information from on-line chemical databases regarding chemical reactions, structures and properties. They should be able to apply the database skills in writing a report drawing from scientific literature.

(S1) Communication skills

(S2) Lifelong learning skills

(S3) Organisational skills

(S4) IT skills

(S5) Commercial awareness

Teaching and Learning Strategies

There is a large element of working independently during this course.

Databases: Eight e-lectures, two assignments and one report. The two assignments to be completed after a 4 e-lecture block of material with assistance available during computer-based workshop sessions (2 x 3hr). The report will be completed after some guidance is offered. General feedback will be released to all students and individual feedback will be offered.

Molecular modelling: Two lectures and two assignments, the assignments to be completed after the lectures with assistance available in the optional workshops (2 x 2 hr). Model answers to assignments will be released and individual feedback given.

Employability: 6 employability lectures, two tutorials and one final workshop for presentations. Detailed rubrics will be available in advance and individual feedback given.

*Synchronous lectures: 8 hr (some optional)
*Asynchronous lectures: 8 hr
*Workshops: 10 hr
*Tutorials: 2 h r



MOLECULAR MODELLING: This section will be the responsibility of Dr Richard Bonar Law. The lectures and workshops will cover:
•Introduction: Summary of techniques covered in the course, and sources for further reading.
•Molecular Mechanics using force-fields
•Modelling non-covalent interactions: van der Waals, electrostatics, aromatic stacking, hydrogen bonding, cooperativity.

EMPLOYABILITY: This section will be the responsibility of Dr James Gaynor via two main types of activities.
•Group work: Students will participate in a group research-based mini-project directed by a real-world industrial problem. This will be variable each year depending on the availability of industrial partners and, where possible, there will be a range of topics varying from technical to general, and from a range of industrial sectors. Timetable depending, and based on number of student enrolments, students can personalise their route through the group work to focus on their future plans (i.e. chemical industry, teaching, further research, non-science etc.)
•Portfolio and application exercises: Students construct a personalised action plan of their employability priorities, engage with an activity to address them, and offer evidence via a mini-reflection of the activity.

DATABASES: This section will be the responsibility of Dr David L. Cooper and Prof Neil Berry. The material will be covered mostly in a self-study process using up to eight e-lectures and online guidance. The material covered will progressively build in complexity to prepare students for their research projects during semesters 2/3, and will include:
•A general introduction to the literature, text-based search processes using databases such as Web of Science and Google Scholar, and academic referencing using Endnote.
•Structure and text-based combination searches using databases such as Reaxys with an initial focus on small molecule s, inorganic salts and simple organometallics and searching using chemical properties, reactions, stereochemistry, generic groups and reagents
•Advanced structure-based searches using Reaxys with a consideration of more advanced molecules utilising atom mapping, non-standard bonding (e.g. cyclopentadiene) and variable atoms.
•The introduction of patents and additional databases such as SciFinder and Crystallographic databases.

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 8




Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 47


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Database assignments    30       
Molecular modelling assignments    35       
Employability assignments Presentation, exec. Summary and portfolio    35