Don't just imagine your future at University, experience it first-hand!

Step into the shoes of an undergraduate student and join us for our upcoming on-campus Discover Days in Science, Engineering and Fashion. These days are tailored exclusively for Year 12s who are interested in taking their academic journey to the next level. Find your favourite subject now!

Find out more about our Discover Days in Science, Engineering and Fashion

MChem Chemistry with International Study

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Radiochemistry and Nuclear Chemistry

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHEM40311
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
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.  

This module explores the physical and chemical characteristics of the radioactive elements, including The Atomic Nucleus; Origin of the Elements; Subvalent Actinide Chemistry; Optical Spectroscopy of Lanthanides and Actinides



Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Introductory Chemistry CHEM10101 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


The course unit aims to provide:

  • an understanding of the nature and properties of the atomic nucleus
  • knowledge of the chemistry of the actinide elements, particularly electronic and molecular structure of actinide species
  • an explanation of the origins of the chemical elements and their abundances, including the physical mechanisms and the relationships to the life cycles of stars.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand simple models of the atomic nucleus and their relevance to physical properties.
  • Explain the origins of the chemical elements and their universal abundances, and relate element production to the life cycle of stars and the nuclear reactions that take place in them.
  • Understand the role of nuclear power in the context of zero carbon
  • Understand the interaction of radiation with matter and the methods of radiation detection
  • Understand the causes of criticality incidents and how to prevent them
  • Understand the electronic structure and chemistry of the actinide elements and salient features of their chemistry.


Teaching and learning methods

Unseen Examination: 1 hour 45 mins

Intellectual skills

Students should be able to:

  • Understand the basic concepts of radiochemistry
  • Combine the basic principles of relevant physics and chemistry


Transferable skills and personal qualities

The following transferable skills will be developed:

  • Assimilation of complex physical and chemical concepts
  • Analysis and synthesis of diverse ideas from different topics in the course
  • Nuclear weapons design
  • Time management and organisation


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Nucleosynthesis: There is a workshop session at the end of the nucleosythesis section, where the students can attempt and receive feedback on questions.

The atomic nucleus: Students attempt past paper questions, and these are then worked through in a workshop

Interactions of radiation with matter: The last lectures are interspersed with problems and questions to go through questions that were set during the course.

Optical spectroscopy of lanthanides and actinides: The lectures are interspersed with problems and questions to go through alongside workshop/examples sessions and past paper questions with feedback provided.


Recommended reading

  • Radiochemistry and nuclear chemistry (3rd ed) By Gregory R. Choppin, Jan-Olov Liljenzin, Jan Rydberg
  • Chemistry of the f-block elements-Helen Aspinall (Gordon and Breach)
  • The f elements-Nikolas Kaltsoyannis and Peter Scott (Oxford Chemistry Primers)


Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Francis Livens Unit coordinator

Return to course details