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The University of Southampton

CHEM6131 Chemistry MSc Advanced Research Project

Module Overview

The project involves approximately 600 hours of commitment including 14 weeks of full-time practical-based research work (ca. 450 hours). It commences with literature research and project planning, some of which has been performed in other modules previously, and this forms the basis of an assessed project plan (non contributory). An interim report due in August provides an assessed mechanism to build the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake the dissertation preparation (ca. 150 hours). The dissertation is submitted in mid September, followed by a viva-voce defence within two weeks.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To offer the opportunity to develop a high level of practical and theoretical understanding in the area of the research project and to enhance transferable skills associated with chemistry research.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Effectively time manage the practical and theoretical workload associated with the research work;
  • Communicate the project results with clarity, both verbally and in writing, and by using appropriate scientific terminology;
  • Present conclusions and suggestions for further work that are evidence based and consistent with the results of project work.
  • Carry out the practical element of the project work with a high degree of independence and with regular self-evaluation of performance, leading to the development of personal objectives and strategies of how to meet them;
  • Make judgments on the direction of research work on the basis of an understanding of the chemical literature;
  • Demonstrate initiative in developing solutions to problems related to the research project.
  • Prepare risk assessments for all practical work undertaken;
  • Undertake complex practical and theoretical tasks to support any given research hypothesis;
  • Maintain a laboratory / work record to a professional standard;
  • Collate and analyse data from a variety of sources;
  • Apply core chemistry knowledge in advanced problem solving;
  • Critically evaluate the quality and reliability of your acquired data;
  • Distil complex data from different sources into a coherent package of supporting evidence;
  • Identify key elements of the scientific literature that are relevant to the research area;


Full-time work throughout the summer period (requirement of 35 hours per week). The majority of time will be spent in practical research on your project although there will be an expectation that you complete the necessary literature work to allow you to accomplish your laboratory work effectively. A project plan is required for submission in early June and an interim report is required for submission at the start of August. Both components are mandatory (guidance on format will be provided) and both will be returned with feedback. From mid august you will begin to refocus your work towards the background literature and preparing your dissertation. Please note the deadline for submission of the dissertation and penalties for late submission will be applied according to the university regulations. Oral examinations (viva voce) of the project work will occur after the dissertation submission and you will need to arrange a time to suit you, your supervisor and nominated examiner.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Primary approaches include: • Provision of information on the project process with the programme coordinator; • Establishment of project objectives with academic supervisor (often before project starts) ; • Day to day supervision by nominated day to day supervisor; • Regular informal meetings with academic advisor (and supervisor) to monitor progress and share ideas; • Feedback on performance will be a part of day to day discussions throughout the entire term of the project. In most instances this will be provided through informal discussions but on occasion might result in particular objectives being set.

Supervised time in studio/workshop450
Follow-up work46
Completion of assessment task80
Practical classes and workshops2
Project supervision12
Total study time600


Assessment Strategy

500 Word Project Plan 3-page interim report (style providing framework for final dissertation) marked by supervisor and independent assessor. Supervisor’s evaluation: Assessing the ‘on project’ performance including qualitative and quantitative assessment of the research work Dissertation: Two independent examiners both separately review results and background understanding through assessment of the dissertation. Viva: Two independent examiners (one expert, one non-expert in the field of study) conduct a verbal examination to determine your understanding of your project work and the basic knowledge underpinning it. Re-assessment Method Re-submisssion of the dissertation and/or a second viva examination. Other component marks will be retained.


Project plan


MethodPercentage contribution
Diligence and Initiative 50%
Interim Report 10%
Supervisor's evaluation 20%
Viva 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment Marks carried forward 50%
Diligence and Initiative 50%
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