CHEM61000 Research and Communication Skills


Unit code: CHEM61000
Credit Rating: 15
Unit level: Level 6
Teaching period(s): Both semesters


  • To equip students with effective research and communication skills in chemistry;
  • To develop students’ essay writing and presentation skills;
  • To provide training which will enable students to carry out the final research project;
  • To familiarise students with the use of specialist chemical databases for literature searching such as Web of Knowledge and SciFinder, and software for presenting chemical information, eg chemical drawing packages;
  • To establish a specialist understanding of the area in which the research component of the MSc is to be undertaken via relevant literature searching and to report the findings in an extended piece of writing.
Areas covered will include: scientific essay and report writing skills; presentation skills; academic style and conventions; structure and organisation of material; grammar and punctuation; referring to sources; paraphrase and summary; avoiding academic malpractice; using the library, including its electronic resources; literature surveying via Web of Knowledge and SciFinder; using ChemDraw to draw molecular structures and reaction schemes.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Literature searching; abstraction of significant information; analysis of data; essay and report writing; critical reflection; independent learning; pair and team working; giving effective academic presentations; IT skills related to literature searching and scientific writing and presentations; time management and organisational skills (ability to work independently and to work efficiently and effectively).

Assessment methods

  • Academic malpractice awareness, on-line test (Pass/Fail)
  • Presentation, 15%
  • 1500-word essay, 25%
  • Written exam, 1 hr, 20%
  • Research review, 10-15 sides A4, 40%

Learning outcomes

Students successfully completing this unit should have developed the ability to:

  • conduct and report on research in chemistry, using appropriate databases and software;
  • write effective, well-organised scientific essays and reports;
  • deliver effective, well-organised academic presentations;
  • use the style and conventions of academic scientific writing and speaking;
  • use the referencing conventions of the Royal Society of Chemistry;
  • paraphrase and summarise from academic sources, and understand how to avoid plagiarism and other forms of academic malpractice;
  • use the English language accurately and effectively in a scientific context;
  • become familiar with research already carried out in their intended project area.

Recommended reading

  • Jane Bottomley (2014) Academic Writing for International Students of Science, Oxon: Routledge..

Feedback methods

Workshops, seminars, feedback on drafted material

Study hours

  • Lectures – 6 hours
  • Seminars & workshops – 14 hours
  • Tutorials – 2/3 hours
  • Independent study hours – 127 hours

Teaching staff

Jane Bottomley; Ishbel Saxton

Alan Brisdon - Unit coordinator

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