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MChem Chemistry with International Study

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introductory Chemistry

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHEM10101
Credit rating 30
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Week 1: Introduction to Chemistry at Manchester

Dr A K Brisdon and Dr F Mair

  • To encourage reflection on prior learning and to aggregate existing knowledge.
  • To provide an introduction to the ethos of university-level learning and teaching.

Weeks 2-5

Dr A K Brisdon and Dr F Mair

  • Atomic orbitals and simple wavefunctions
  • Introduction to molecular orbitals
  • Valence bond approaches to molecular structure
  • Application of MO and VB theory

The module then splits into two streams: “Shape and Reactivity” and “Properties of Matter”

Shape and Reactivity

Weeks 7-12

Dr C Poree

  • Molecular shape
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Fundamentals of chemical reactivity

States of Matter

Weeks 7-12

Dr Mike Baker

  • Interatomic and intermolecular forces
  • Gases and liquids
  • Solids


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Chemists' Toolkit CHEM10520 Co-Requisite Compulsory
Practical Chemistry CHEM10600 Co-Requisite Compulsory

A-level Chemistry or equivalent qualification.

Basic numeracy and literacy (to GCSE or equivalent) standard.

Basic laboratory experience, including an awareness of units and errors.


To provide an introduction to the fundamental principles underlying all chemical phenomena, to engage prior knowledge and understanding, to introduce new concepts and establish a sound basis for further units of study.

This unit will include aspects of structure, bonding, molecular shape and reactivity, the distribution of energy in microscopic and macroscopic terms, and an introduction to the important physical parameters which describe the states of matter (solid, liquid and gaseous phases).


Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Summarise their current knowledge on given themes/topics from A-level/IB syllabus.
  • Describe the basic properties of molecular orbitals and molecular bonds based on their current understanding.
  • Describe the shape and orientation of atomic orbitals using simple diagrams of radial and angular parts of wavefunctions.
  • Describe the atomic structure of atoms in terms of the occupation of atomic orbitals.
  • Describe the periodic properties deriving from atomic structure, IE, effective nuclear charge & electronegativity.
  • Describe the construction of diatomic MOs from LCAOs, to populate these with electrons and to predict bond order.
  • Demonstrate the applications of MO theory to polyatomic molecules and to derive the MOs of simple, n-atom molecules (where 2<n<5).
  • Apply VSEPR theory to a range of simple molecules and ions to obtain potential structures;
  • Describe the concept of hybridisation (in the context of atomic orbitals) and to apply it to produce a conceptual model of bonding in simple organic and inorganic molecules.
  • Apply molecular orbital (MO) approaches to predict and analyse the structures of simple molecules and ions.
  • Predict the shape and geometry of small molecules, complexes and compounds based on orbitals and electron density (VB approach and simple MO approach).
  • Compare and contrast the usefulness of both VSEPR and MO approaches in a chemical context.
  • Rationalise the preferred conformation of selected small molecules through consideration of electrostatics and stereoelectronics.
  • Describe and classify stereoisomers through consideration of their shape and geometry.
  • Understand bond-breaking (and bond-forming) events in terms of curly-arrow nomenclature.
  • Classify species as electrophilic or nucleophilic and/or acidic or basic through consideration of their bonding, and predict their observed reactivity.
  • Describe and rationalise the outcome of reactions in terms of orbitals.
  • Explain the shape of a simple interatomic potential energy diagram based on electrostatic interactions and short-range repulsion.
  • Describe and explain the main intermolecular interactions and to discuss their relative magnitude in qualitative terms.
  • Understand and apply the van der Waals equation of state to perform calculations on real gases.
  • Explain the boiling and melting points of simple examples using PE diagrams and to describe the key features of simple one-component phase diagrams.
  • Describe basic solid state structures for elements in terms of crystal systems, Bravais lattices, unit cells.
  • Describe the solid state structure of simple compounds (NaCl, zincblende) in terms of atomic lattices, octahedral and tetrahedral holes.

Module ILOs

  • Predict the shape, structure and bonding in small molecules, complexes and compounds based on orbitals and electron density, and relate this to observed chemical behaviour for selected systems.
  • Interpret the states of different kinds of matter based on a consideration of the molecular or atomic structure of the constituents and simple interatomic and intermolecular interaction potentials between the constituent species.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

The following transferable skills will need to be used by students in order to complete this unit successfully:

  • Problem solving – the application of problem solving skills to analyse given data, propose solutions to authentic chemical problems and draw appropriate conclusions.
  • Communication skills – the ability to effectively and concisely convey answers using the appropriate chemical terminology/technical language, through discussion with peers, oral presentations and written work.
  • Teamworking skills – Through discussion of authentic chemical problems in workshops, tutorials and PASS sessions.
  • Numeracy and mathematical skills – the ability to handle and manipulate data using simple algebra, functions and calculus, the ability to correctly handle and convert data in different scientific units;
  • Investigative Skills – to be able to read and extract key information from scholarly texts, given information and the internet, and to be able to assess/critique the quality of the information sourced.
  • Analytical skills – the ability to interpret and critically evaluate data (and information).
  • Time management/organisational skills – the development of an ability to work to schedules and meet deadlines by working efficiently and effectively.


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods


The course is delivered in a way which allows students to regularly receive feedback on their work through a variety of teaching activities. This is achieved through i) a significant amount of content being delivered as worked problems in lecture, and ii) through regular workshops each week of the course and during tutorials. These sessions allow for provision of formative feedback through material which is designed to help guide students in their own conceptualization and approach to solving problems.


Workshops offer opportunities for both facilitator and peer feedback by:

Providing opportunities for students to work with and master concepts introduced in lectures, and apply these concepts to unseen material.

Encouraging development of thinking skills (with a focus on critical thinking, analysis, evaluation and application, rather than simple reproduction of knowledge/process)

Providing opportunities for teamwork and collaboration (and the development of skills associated with this) and including time for students to reflect upon their own learning.


Weekly tutorials in Semester 1 provide opportunities for more personalised tutor feedback on submitted work and topics discussed and for informal peer feedback in a collaborative, small-group environment.


CHEM10101 is supported by a set of weekly online quizzes which provide an opportunity for students to evaluate their own progress during the module.

Recommended reading

J. Keeler and P. Wothers, Chemical Structure and Reactivity: An Integrated Approach (2nd edition), OUP, Oxford, 2013 (ISBN 978-0199604135).

P. Atkins and J. de Paula, Atkins’ Physical Chemistry (10th edition), OUP, Oxford, 2014 (ISBN 978-0199697403).

J. Clayden, N. Greeves and S. Warren, Organic Chemistry (2nd edition), OUP, Oxford, 2012 (ISBN 978-0199270293).

C. Housecroft and A. G. Sharpe, Inorganic Chemistry (4th edition), Pearson, 2012 (ISBN 978-0273742753)


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 100
Practical classes & workshops 22
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 216

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Carl Poree Unit coordinator
Francis Mair Unit coordinator
Alan Brisdon Unit coordinator
Michael Baker Unit coordinator

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