Third Year Chemistry Optional Modules Review – OurWarwick
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Third Year Chemistry Optional Modules Review

Big News: Current chemistry third years have finished their exams and are probably still hungover from over a week ago. I am now free to write blog posts without a legitimate excuse.

Bigger news: In just over 48 hours I will be boarding my flight to Melbourne and will not be back in the UK for 4 and a half months. I am totally and completely calm about this.

The main point: Second year chemistry students will soon have to decide on their optional modules for next year with little guidance on the choices available to them from the department. HOWEVER as a knowledgable and wisened third year with a lot of time on her hands, I am about to break down these modules with honest reviews from those who took them.

DISCLAIMER: These are the modules that were available to me as a third year in 2016/2017, the chemistry department loves to change things around based on feedback and it is not 100% certain that this will continue for when you yourself are a second/third year, although it will probably be similar so is worth continuing reading. If you are not studying/planning to study chemistry at Warwick it is not worth your time and I’m not sure why you came here in the first place.

Additionally, any opinions are those of my own or a select number of students who took the module so are NOT to be taken as gospel, just as friendly advice!

A Chemistry student studying for a Bachelor of Science will have the option of choosing four of the following modules (3 must be Chemistry modules), and someone studying for the Masters of Chemistry will choose three (2 must be Chemistry modules) because it is compulsory that you take the Extended Lab module.

If you take Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry you must also take the Pharmacology module which I don’t know anything about. Additionally, Bachelor of Science students can take the Extended Lab module as one of their options.

Chemistry Modules

Molecular Structure and Dynamics

Who are the lecturers?

Scott Habershon and Vas Stavros

What is it like?

A lot of people are put off by this module due to fear of maths and abstract concepts, as instigated by the more difficult modules in earlier years. However, MD is lectured really well, with a lot of Scott Habershon’s content relating directly to his part of the compulsory Advanced Physical Chemistry module on computational chemistry so it seems more tangible than other similar modules you may have come across previously. Vas Stavros covers other theoretical concepts involving photochemistry and photophysics (yep, physics). However it does involve a lot of remembering things directly rather than trying to logically figure out answers so if this sort of learning doesn’t float well this may not be the module for you.

How are you examined?

25% of the module is coursework done on the computer through workshops and your own work which is great as it takes pressure off the exam (and is often considered ‘easy marks’!). The exam is 1.5 hours and is usually taken alongside the Advanced Physical Chemistry exam.

Polymers and Colloid Science

Who are the lecturers?

David Haddleton takes the Polymers lectures and Stefan Bon takes the Colloids lectures.

What is it like?

It is a good introduction to a very important part of science on polymer chemistry, building on what you learnt in first and second year, and colloid science, which will be mostly new. The module is split into six blocks, three on Polymers and three on Colloids each taught by the respective lecturer. The Colloids section does contain a bit of maths and physics to get your head around, but it is nothing a student here will not be capable of. I found the lectures easy to follow and the content interesting, and by having a workshop for every block it allows you to consolidate what you’ve been taught.

How are you examined?

There is one 1.5 hour exam in the Main exam period in Weeks 9 and 10 of Term 2 which consists of 6 questions, one on each Block. The exam is traditionally pressured for time and very difficult, however the module content is interesting and well explained with lots of past questions provided, so you have a lot of resources for revision.

Advanced Coordination and Bio-inorganic Chemistry

Who are the lecturers?

Claudia Blindauer, Paolo Coppo and Tim Bugg

What is it like?

This module continues your understanding of biological chemistry from the second year with a large focus on diseases and medicines. You learn more about how metals affect the processes in the body in medicines and about cancers and degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimers and Parkinson’s. This is not notably taxing in terms of understanding, but it is quite a heavy course content-wise, with many structures required commiting to memory. However, an interest in biological chemistry will not make this an unpleasant fact.

How are you examined?

One exam in Week 9 or 10 of Term 2, usually joined with Advanced Organic Chemistry for a three hour exam.

Bio-organic Chemistry

Who are the lecturers?

Greg Challis and Andy Marsh

What is it like?

Like Bio-Inorganic, this is a module for those who loved the Biological and Medicinal Chemistry module from second year as it is heavy on enzyme mechanisms. Also good for anyone who wishes they were doing Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry. If you struggle to remember structures and mechanisms, which is something you should know by now, this probably isn’t the one for you. Not only do you learn more about advanced biosynthesis but are also given a new insite into computer aided molecular modelling by two computing workshops, with a piece of assessed work (taking some pressure off the exam).

How are you examined?

A 1.5 hour exam, usually taken with the 1.5 hour Advanced Organic Chemistry exam, and an Assessed Computational workshop that counts for 10% of the module.

Energy

Who are the lecturers?

Ross Hatton, Pat Unwin, Richard Walton and Tim Bugg

What is it like?

Energy starts with a very terrifying introduction into climate change and how as a species we have completely and irreversibly destroyed planet Earth and goes on to cover the science behind solar cells, batteries, fuel cells and biomass. The module is interesting, very up-to-date with technologies and it includes guest lectures from other field experts. There is a hefty amount of solid state chemistry in Walton’s part of the module, and also a large focus on electricity from Hatton, but as long as these things do not repulse you, you should enjoy this module.

This is generally very popular, probably because as the next generation of chemists it is kind of on us to sort out the mess of nearly every previous generation since the industrial revolution.

How are you examined?

One 1.5 hour exam in Week 9 or 10 of Term 2. As this is quite a new module and is constantly changing you do not have a lot of access to past papers, but lecturers are generally quite good at answering questions/meeting up to discuss problems.

Inter-disciplinary Modules

Communicating Science

This is not a standard module that comes with lectures and an exam. This module is run by the Physics department and involves a two hour seminar run by an Academic with a Literature or Languages background each week for the duration of Term 1. Each seminar focuses on a different way of communicating in-depth science to others who may not have the same background, looking specifically at posters, giving presentations, essays and factsheets. You will have five assignments to turn in over the course of the module, each with different weightings that make up your total grade. These assignments include a factsheet, a critique of a scientific article, a presentation, a poster and a long essay.

It is a fun and useful module, and provides some relief from the in-depth chemistry you are associated with, however what I most appreciated from this module was that it does not have an exam and thus, by term 2, you already have one module underneath your belt.

Introduction to Secondary School Teaching

Again, this is not a standard module and contains no learning of chemistry concepts (you can form your own opinion on this information!). This module is made up of 5 weekly, two hour seminars in Term 2 where you learn specifically about teaching Chemistry at a secondary school. Then you are expected to spend 10 days in a school, which you organise to complete in your own time, either during term or in the Easter holidays. What you do at the school is entirely up to you, but you could be involved in running revision sessions, 1-to-1 tutoring or teaching lessons. You are assessed through coursework pieces and your performance in school.

This is a very good module if you are at all interested in teaching, as the experience you get looks great on an application, or if you just want to rule it out as an option. The problem with this module is that the majority of the work is required from you in Term 2 where you are expected to be concentrating on your exams, and you are also required to do work after the exams are over. However I cannot enforce enough how great it is to not have to do another exam!

Please feel free to send me a message/comment on the post if you have any other queries regarding module choices!

Choose wisely, grasshoppers.

Fiona xx

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