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MChem Chemistry with International Study

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Contemporary Themes in Chemistry

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHEM20711
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Industrial Biotechnology (Dr. Nick Weise)

  • Industrial biotechnology in the chemical industry.
  • The need to develop sustainable manufacturing processes based on renewable resources.
  • The chemistry of enzymes and enzyme mechanisms
  • Introductory molecular biology and biochemical engineering
  • Cases studies from the pharmaceutical, materials and fine chemical industries exemplifying the advantages and disadvantages of enzymatic transformations.

Engineering with Chemistry for Advanced Separations (Prof. Peter Budd)

  • Introduction to advanced separations in the context of the global goals ( of “clean water”, affordable and clean energy” and “climate action”.
  • Introduction to materials for membrane and adsorption processes.
  • Clean water: Membrane processes for desalination; adsorption processes for wastewater treatement.
  • Affordable and clean energy: Bioethanol and biobutanol; ABE fermentation; processes for product purification.
  • Climate action: Carbon dioxide capture; absorption and membrane processes.

Crystalline Microporous Inorganic Materials (Dr. Martin Attfield)

  • General introduction to crystalline microporous inorganic materials and their properties
  • Microporous materials: Zeolites – synthesis, structure and properties, Newer families of inorganic microporous materials
  • Applications & case studies relating to sustainability, energy, environment & manufacturing including: ion-exchange, separations/ adsorption & heterogeneous catalysis.



Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Introductory Chemistry CHEM10101 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Energy and Change CHEM10212 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Coordination Chemistry CHEM10312 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Structure and Reactivity CHEM10412 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Chemists' Toolkit CHEM10520 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


The unit aims to:

  • give students an insight into current challenges in chemistry research, pitched at a level based on prior learning up to the end of Y1
  • enable students to appreciate the role chemistry plays in tackling societal problems relating to sustainability, energy, environment, manufacturing and healthcare.


Learning outcomes

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

  • apply basic, introductory understanding of molecular biology and biochemical engineering to unseen biotechnology processes;
  • describe and explain enzymatic transformations using core knowledge of organic chemistry, chemical reactivity and mechanism;
  • compare and contrast classical chemical routes to pharmaceuticals and other chemicals with newer enzymatic strategies in terms of environmental and sustainability issues;
  • discuss the contribution that chemistry can make in tackling global challenges related to clean water, affordable and clean energy, and climate action;
  • explain the basic principles of membrane and adsorption technologies;
  • discuss materials and processes for desalination, wastewater treatment, biofuel production and purification, and carbon dioxide capture;
  • describe the framework chemistry of crystalline microporous inorganic materials using considerations of structure, chemical composition and charge balancing;
  • describe the synthesis of crystalline microporous inorganic materials including considerations of chemical species, concentration, temperature and time, and use these factors to predict aspects of the resulting products;
  • explain the inherent functionality of, and functionalisation methods for, crystalline microporous inorganic materials, to demonstrate their use in areas of sustainability, energy, environment, manufacturing & health.

Teaching and learning methods

Each topic has nominally 8 sessions (a variable combination of lectures, workshops and examples)

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Concept assimilation; problem solving skills; analytical skills; time management and organizational skills; numeracy; investigative skills.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

There will be a variety of synchronous workshops where students can attempt questions and receive instant feedback.
The three academics delivering the material are also available to see students during office hours or after lectures.
Pre-examination feedback can be obtained from the three academics delivering the course and from feed forward documents posted on Blackboard.
Post-examination feedback (able to view marked examination scripts)

Recommended reading

• For the Engineering with Chemistry for Advanced Separations course there is no recommended text but the lectures will include pointers to relevant literature.

• For the Crystalline Microporous Inorganic Materials course
• ‘An Introduction to Zeolite Molecular Sieves’, A. Dyer, Wiley, Chichester, 1988.
• ‘Introduction to Zeolite Science and Practice’, 2nd edition, Van Bekkum, Flanigen, Jacobs, Jansen (eds), Elsevier, 2001.
• ‘Solid State Chemistry – An Introduction’ - L. Smart & E. Moore, Chapman and Hall, 2nd Ed.

• For the industrial biotechnology course there is no recommended text but the lectures will include pointers to relevant primary literature. For extra reading, the following book is recommended:
• Biocatalysis in Organic Synthesis: The Retrosynthesis Approach, Nicholas J Turner, Luke Humphreys

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 24
Independent study hours
Independent study 74

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Martin Attfield Unit coordinator

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