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 2023-24 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 construct a portfolio of evidence of key skill development and give an oral presentation as part of a team, based around the group mini-project.

(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

(S6) Students will develop teamwork and communication skills through group work

Teaching and Learning Strategies

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

Employability: 6-8 employability lectures (attendance expected at 6 of them), two tutorials and one final workshop for presentations. Detailed rubrics will be available in advance and individual feedback given.

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.

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.

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



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.

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.

DATABASES: This section will be the responsibility of Dr Gina Washbourn 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 molecules , 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 6




Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 49


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Coursework 1 Employability assignments Exemptions: electronic submission 3.2a, mix anonymous marking 4.3c Resit: No    35       
Coursework 2 Molecular modelling assignments Resit: Yes    35       
Coursework 3 Database assignments Resit:Yes    30