Making the transition

The environment at school and college is very different to university and we aim to make sure your adjustment to it is as smooth as possible. Therefore, we’ve designed a new first year course taking into account this need. The first semester, running until Christmas, has a lighter lecturing load, creating an opportunity to introduce you to methods of learning that might be new such as computer-aided learning and group working.

In the three lectures given each week, you will begin to learn the trends observed in physical properties of elements that have lead to the modern quantum description of matter. From there we will use the theory to derive models for bonding in simple compounds.

In two further time slots each week, we will use staff-supervised workshops and computer-aided learning material to cover topics where the underlying concepts are simple, and where practice is the best learning method.

Many of these topics will have been covered at A-level, and the workshops will revise this material thus bringing everyone to the same level.

Topics will include:


  • organic and inorganic nomenclature.
  • electron counting.
  • recognising shapes and functional groups.
  • drawing molecules.
  • units.

Two slots each week will be dedicated to 'communicating chemistry', where skills such as data retrieval, report writing and making effective presentations, will be strengthened in a chemical context. Much of this will involve "group working" tasks such as researching the literature in a current area of chemistry.

Two slots per week will cover "quantitative chemistry", using chemical examples to strengthen your skills in mathematical manipulation and data analysis.

Six hours per week will be dedicated to laboratory classes, where the basic skills required for practical chemistry will be taught.

How you will be taught

Chemistry is taught by a variety of teaching methods. A sound theoretical understanding of chemistry and the acquisition of a broad knowledge of chemical reactions are provided through 10-12 hours of lectures per week.

Laboratory work develops your experimental skills and gives a fuller understanding of lecture material - in the first two years you will work in the teaching laboratories for around 6-9 hours each week. Finally, as well as lectures and labs you will have a weekly tutorial alternating through the three main branches of chemistry.

Size is important for the enhanced facilities and opportunities it brings - but we are also very aware of the need for the personal touch. We take excellent care of our students and assign several tutors to oversee the process - from the Director of Undergraduate Studies who is in overall charge and a Course Director who is responsible for each specific programme. All students have three Academic Tutors in physical, inorganic and organic chemistry. You will also have your own Personal Tutor to oversee your welfare - on average each member of staff has no more than four to six personal tutees per year.

We are also proud of our innovative PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) scheme. The PASS scheme has one session each week aimed at providing additional support in the area of that week's tutorial. It is entirely voluntary and third and fourth year students help first years to tackle problems similar to those in the tutorial.

The emphasis is on showing you how to think about the problems, how to develop problem-solving skills and how to get the most from the educational resources available.



  • A computer cluster which is used as an integral part of teaching.
  • £13 million investment in new teaching laboratories.
  • Regular small group teaching in tutorials.
  • State-of-the-art synthetic labs for project work.
  • A full 'My Manchester' portal offering each student individual access to the University's e-Learning and electronic services including e-mail and Blackboard.
  • Electronic online access to scientific journals for study and project work.
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