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MChem Chemistry with International Study

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Environmental and Green Chemistry

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHEM20712
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Department of Chemistry
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 21/22 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.

The unit of three sections defines the concepts of Green Chemistry and showcases how these apply via examples in Process Chemistry. It then goes on to a survey of novel feedstocks, showing how renewable feedstocks can replace petrochemical ones, and finishes with a survey of atmospheric chemistry.


 The course unit  aims to:

  • Provide the student with an understanding of the impact which chemistry can have on the environment and of how this impact may be quantified and minimized.
  • Provide an insight into how manufacturing processes can be developed which have a minimal environmental footprint.
  • Highlight recent advances in chemical synthesis which minimize waste and increase overall chemical efficiency.
  • Describe the general composition of the atmosphere and the natural chemical and physical processes that lead to this composition, including methods used to determine atmospheric concentrations.
  • Describe anthropogenic effects on the atmosphere and discuss some key environmental challenges.
  • Highlight how alternative feedstocks can allow access to key chemicals beyond the petrochemical era.
  • Promote a Socially Responsible attitude amongst Chemistry Graduates in the application of their chemical knowledge.

Learning outcomes

Students successfully completing this unit should have developed the ability to:

ILO 1.1 Demonstrate a knowledge of the key reactions and processes used in chemical industries;

ILO 1.2 Understand the problems associated with performing large scale chemical syntheses;

ILO 1.3 Demonstrate an understanding of the factors which contribute to the design and execution of efficient chemical syntheses.

ILO 2.1 Compare petrochemical routes with non-petrochemical routes for a range of target e.g. petrochem diesel from oil vs methyl esters of fatty acids from waste fats.

ILO 2.2 Demonstrate knowledge of the common renewable organic feedstocks, cellulose and sugars, lignin, CO2, fats, and Syngas, and understanding of how they may be converted to valued products.

ILO 2.3 Show an appreciation of the potential to replace petrochemical product with identical molecules sources from alternative starting points, or with different molecules which are easier to access from those alternative starting points.

ILO 2.4 Demonstrate understanding of mechanism in key reactions in this field, including aldose to ketose conversion (i.e. 1,2 hydrogen shift), transesterification, fructose dehydration to Hydroxymethylfurfural and Lignin deploymerization

ILO 2.5 Show understanding of oxidation and reduction in routes from HMF to furandicarboxylic acid

ILO 3.1 Be able to explain the chemical and physical processes which occur in the atmosphere and relate these to the natural composition of the atmosphere;

ILO 3.2 Demonstrate a basic understanding of the methods and instrumentation for the analysis of atmospheric composition;

ILO 3.3 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the impacts anthropogenic emissions have on natural atmospheric chemistry, cycles and processes;

ILO 3.4 Predict the likely atmospheric chemistry and ultimate fate of anthropogenic (a.k.a "man-made") pollutants;

ILO 3.5 Compare the relative environmental impacts of anthropogenic pollutants.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures supported by online materials

Intellectual skills

  • Concept assimilation;
  • Problem-solving skills;
  • Analysis and interpretation of data from analytical techniques;
  • Numeric skills;
  • Ability to apply a logical approach to chemical synthesis.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communications skills
  • Numeracy and mathematical skills
  • Analytical skills
  • ICT skills
  • Time management and organisational skills
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Ethical behaviour

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Formative Blackboard Quizzes, In-class workshops, feedback on Coursework Article given by paper proforma. 

Recommended reading

Further reading;

J. Clayden, N. Greeves, S. Warren, P. Wothers "Organic Chemistry" Oxford University Press

R. P. Wayne "Chemistry of Atmosphere" Oxford University Press


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 22
Practical classes & workshops 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 74

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Francis Mair Unit coordinator

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