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The University of Southampton

GSCI0009 Fundamentals of Chemistry

Module Overview

This module is designed to provide students with the chemistry knowledge and skills required for a successful transition to degree-level study in disciplines which require a strong background in the subject. The material covered is at a level corresponding to pre-university qualifications such as A level in the UK. The module provides a foundation of knowledge in inorganic, organic and physical chemistry and there is a strong emphasis on the application of the subject in different contexts such as biology.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Develop essential knowledge and understanding of chemistry appropriate to this level and apply these in new situations; develop an understanding of scientific methods; develop an understanding of the link between theory and experiment; bring together knowledge of how different areas of chemistry relate to each other and to the use of chemistry in society.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • recognise, recall and show understanding of chemical facts, terminology, principles, concepts and practical techniques;
  • draw on existing knowledge to show understanding of the ethical, social, economic, environmental and technological implications and applications of chemistry;
  • select, organise and present relevant information clearly and logically, using specialist vocabulary where appropriate
  • use chemical skills in contexts which bring together different areas of the subject.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • describe, explain and interpret phenomena and effects in terms of chemical principles and concepts, presenting arguments and ideas clearly and logically, using specialist vocabulary where appropriate;
  • interpret and translate from one form to another, data presented as continuous prose or in tables, diagrams, drawings and graphs;
  • apply chemical principles and concepts in solving problems in unfamiliar situations including those which relate to ethical, social, economic and technological implications and applications of chemistry;
  • assess the validity of chemical information, experiments, inferences and statements
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • manage your own learning;
  • communicate scientific information effectively;
  • apply mathematical methods to solve problems in chemistry;
  • apply problem solving techniques to familiar and unfamiliar chemical problems;
  • use IT to support learning.


Topic Foundation chemistry: Atomic structure, masses and moles, Rates of reaction, energy changes and steel making, Equilibria and Le Chatelier's principle. Examples: Preparation of copper sulfate. Preparation of magnesium oxide. Atoms, bonds and molecules: Models of the atom, isotopes and mass spectrometry, Understanding how electrons are arranged in atoms, Atomic orbitals and electron configuration, Ionic bonding and covalent bonding, Shapes of molecules, Types of covalent bond, electronegativity and polarity Examples: Ionic compounds covered in copper sulfate practicals Elements, matter and trends: Patterns in the periodic table, Redox reactions and oxidation numbers, States of matter, hydrogen bonding and solutions, Titrations, Trends in properties and bonding types, Simple molecular lattices and intermolecular forces Examples: Standard solutions and titration practicals. Energy, rates and the petrochemical industry: Representing organic compounds, Isomerism and nomenclature, Transforming crude oil, Releasing energy from fuels, Calculating enthalpy changes, Activation energy and rates of reaction Examples: Enthalpy change practical. Coursework on crude oil and sustainable energy. Hydrocarbons and alcohols: Alkanes and intermolecular forces, Combustion, pollution and the greenhouse effect, Alcohols: properties and preparation, The reactions of alcohols, Alkenes and their preparation, The reactions of alkenes Examples: Coursework on crude oil and sustainable energy. Alkali metals, halogens and electrolysis: Group 1: The alkali metals and their compounds, Group 2: The alkaline earth metals and their compounds, Lattice enthalpy, Born-Haber cycles and stability, The halogens and their reactions, Halide compounds, The manufacture of chlorine and electrolysis Examples: Practical on identification of unknown alkali metal halides. Advanced organic chemistry: Halogenoalkanes and free radical substitution, The further chemistry of halogenoalkanes, The structure and properties of benzene, The reactions of benzene, Substituted benzenes and their reactions, Aldehydes and ketones Examples: Assessed lab report on isolation of trimyristin Analytical techniques: Working out the formula of a compounds and mass spectrometry, Infra-red spectroscopy, Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy Examples: Analysis of spectra in esters practical. Use of IR during benzocaine analysis. Acids, bases and carboxylic acid derivatives: Acids and their dissociation, Calculating pH and introduction to carboxylic acids, Titration curves and indicators, From carboxylic acids to esters and acid chlorides, Amides and nitriles, Esterification and equilibrium Examples: Practical on pH and titration curves. Advanced inorganic chemistry: Periodicity in period 3 chlorides, Periodicity in period 3 oxides, Transition elements and their physical properties, Chemical properties of transition elements and formation of complexes, Isomerism in complexes and further chemistry, Colour, catalysis and redox chemistry Examples: Practical on transition metal complexes. Electrode potentials and advanced kinetics: Simple cells, Standard electrode potentials and feasibility, Entropy and free energy, Rates of reaction, their measurement and rate equations, Order of reaction and half-life, Rate equations and mechanisms Examples: Assessed practical on rates of reaction. Compounds of nitrogen: Amino acids and chirality, Peptides and proteins, Polymers and their environmental consequences, The basic behaviour of amines / Buffer solutions, Further chemistry of amines and mechanism revision, Advanced calculations in chemistry Examples: Mechanisms activity in lab report for rates of reaction practical.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Lectures, supported by hand-outs illustrating theory and examples; • Projected materials; • Study materials available on the Virtual Learning Environment; • Practice exercises and tests, including in-lecture questions utilising voting pads. Learning activities include: • Individual work on examples both in class and at home • Problem solving, comprehension and data analysis exercises • Self-assessment exercises • Group discussion/question and answer sessions • Individual research on topics • Private study Study Time Allocation: • Contact Hours: 120 • Private Study Hours: 180 • Total study time: 300 hours

Supervised time in studio/workshop48
Preparation for scheduled sessions36
Follow-up work90
Wider reading or practice36
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

J.Clark (2000). Calculations in AS/A Level Chemistry. 

Chemistry websites - recommended resources on the VLE.

Lawrie Ryan (2000). Advanced Chemistry for You (Paperback). 

Chris Conoley and Phil Hills. Chemistry. 

Rob Lewis and Wynne Evans, Palgrave Macmillan. Chemistry. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 40%
Exam  (2 hours) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 60%
Exam 40%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Approved Calculators

All students will be required to have a university approved calculator

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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