Chemistry in Combined Honours - information for current students only

Course information

The course specification below is provided for current students.

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We aim to provide a thorough theoretical and practical training in the fundamental principles and practices of Chemistry. We recognise the need for practising chemists to possess strong tactile and manipulative skills, and therefore we focus on the development of subject confidence and competence through 'hands-on' experience. Our novel areas of research allow us to place special emphasis on and introduce you to exciting elements like Speciality Polymers, Biopolymers, Liquid-crystals and Electro active Organic and Inorganic Materials. A research project in the final year helps develop initiative, independence of thought, self-reliance, and team-work skills and fosters the ability to reason and communicate your ideas with confidence.

After a common and broadly based first and second year you will choose topics for specialisation in your final year.


Jump to:

  • Subject guide & modules
  • Learning, teaching & assessment
  • Placement year
  • Career prospects
  • Personal development
  • Facilities & equipment
  • Qualified Teacher Status
  • Further information

Subject guide & modules

As Chemistry is a practical-based science subject, we place strong emphasis on the acquisition and development of laboratory skills. From the beginning of the academic year you will gain ‘hands-on’experience in laboratory classes. You will receive instruction and practice in some of the fundamentals, such as the preparation and purification of compounds, the use of modern equipment for measuring physical properties, separating and analysing compounds and learning the methods of synthesis. Tutorials are held regularly and you will meet in a small group with a member of academic staff to discuss issues arising from the lectures. You will tackle problems relating to the lecture material which helps guide your understanding of the topic concerned. All these forms of teaching enable us to helps you gain a balanced understanding of the principle of inorganic, organic, physical and analytical Chemistry and their application. About one third of your time will be spent in independent study, reading or working on the computer, writing up laboratory reports or working through example sheets.

Year 1   

  • Introduction to Organic & Inorganic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
  • States of matter
  • Spectroscopic & Instrumental Methods
  • Practical Laboratories

These elements in the first year are designed to introduce and familiarise you with the fundamentals of Organic, Inorganic and Physical Chemistry; subjects common to any university chemistry degree. You will also develop skills in modern analytical techniques and be introduce to good laboratory practice.

Year 2   

  • Polymer Science

  • Kinetics
  • Aromatic, Carbonyl and Heterocyclic Chemistry
  • Spectroscopic techniques
  • Thermodynamics
  • Transitional Elements
  • Practical Laboratories

The second year sees the introduction of new elements designed to help you develop an advanced understanding of the core subjects and build your expertise in more applied subjects, such as Polymer Science.

Placement Year:

This is an opportunity to receive training in an industrial or commercial setting and to acquire valuable experience for a 12-month period. It is usually paid work experience, enabling you to broaden your outlook on education and on work. The experience and skills learned are a tremendous asset to your when seeking employment. The Placement Tutor assists in finding placements and is usually the industrial visitor and supervisor.

Final Year:

  • Advanced Organic, Heterocyclic and Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organometallics
  • Electro- and Stereochemistry
  • Electric properties of Polymers
  • Practical & Project work

This final year sees an emphasis on mechanistic studies and techniques, further development of your knowledge and understanding of advanced chemistry and the development of research skills in a final year research project which you will undertake under the supervision of a member of academic staff.

Learning, teaching & assessment

Our courses incorporate lectures, tutorials, plant visits and lab work. You will also be involved in project work; developing essential problem solving skills with specialist supervision from staff and industrial consultants. This hands-on experience will involve learning a wide range of techniques. Assessment is by a combination of exams, project, lab and coursework. Your final degree classification is determined by your performance in all years after the first year.

Placement year

The optional year of employment can provide you with experience of the area you are looking to go into to lay the foundations for your final year of study. It is highly attractive to potential employers and around 30% of students are offered a job upon graduation by their placement year employer. You have the option to apply for a placement either in the UK or doing a placement abroad. You can do this either by searching and applying for one yourself or looking through our comprehensive database on placements available (between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs are advertised every year). You will be required to attend a programme of preparation, support and advice to increase the likelihood of getting the placement you desire.

Career prospects

Your broad grounding in the principles of chemistry will prepare you to enter research, development or production in the chemical industry or to undertake postgraduate research or teaching certificates. Alternatively you may pursue a career in areas as diverse as commerce, administration, accounting, banking or the civil service. The study of chemistry is a springboard to your future, whether or not you enter a directly related career and is a highly stimulating and rewarding choice. For students taking the Biological Chemistry course there are also opportunities in a wide variety of modern exciting industries including pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, biotechnology, environmental control, water, renewable energy and materials.

Personal development

Throughout the course we emphasise business and communication skills which will enhance your ability to write and present technical essays and reports. Our courses emphasise the commercial as well as industrial application of chemistry. You will learn how the theory you study can be applied in your future career, whether you do research, help define public environmental policy or design new chemical process facilities.

Facilities & equipment

Our modern, purpose-designed labs and teaching facilities include excellent IT facilities and a well-equipped pilot plant area. Tailored computing courses and self-tuition packages ensure the development of IT and word processing skills required by the modern chemical engineer or chemist.

Qualified Teacher Status

You also have the opportunity to obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) on the Chemistry Combined Honours Course by studying on a 2+2 programme in collaboration with Newman University College (NUC) a specialist Teacher Training provider. The placement option is replaced by the ATS element of the course and you will spend part of your time during 3 and 4 at NUC studying the teaching element of the course. You will be eligible for a teacher bursary during these two years. For more information on the course please check our website: www.aston.ac.uk/ids/qts

Further information

Tel: 0121 204 4283;  Email: ids@aston.ac.uk

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