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NES1405 : Mathematical Skills for Chemists

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Mike Probert
  • Lecturer: Dr Ben Horrocks, Professor Thomas Penfold
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module serves as an introduction to the field of physical chemistry, especially in terms of making scientific calculations. It has to be recognised that the nature of calculations used in support of formal physical chemistry teaching differ substantially from conventional mathematical operations. The aim of this particular module is to help students develop the necessary skills by which to undertake such calculations and to examine the consequences of their answers. The basic mathematical tools will be introduced and exemplified by way of making a range of calculations of increasing complexity. The module will link with General Chemistry so that the student sees the relevance of the calculation. At the end of the course, the student should be familiar with all aspects of scientific calculations.

To emphasise the application of mathematical and computing methods to the study of chemical problems. To introduce and develop an understanding of how to use basic software programs to aid the analysis and presentation of scientific data. To develop the student’s ability to solve scientific problems using fundamental chemical principles.

Outline Of Syllabus

"Students will be given typical data and requested to work through the problem, addressing units and likely error ranges. Graphs will be drawn and used to extract more chemical information. Emphasis will be placed on teaching how errors are carried through scientific calculations and on the limitations of extrapolation. A range of mathematical operations will be covered, including:

Basic rules of mathematical operators
Re-arranging equations
Quadratics and higher-orders
Logarithms and exponentials
Graphs, interpolation and extrapolation
Integration and differentiation
Complex numbers
Simultaneous equations
Scientific notation and units
Reciprocals, approximations, simplifications and rounding up.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Revision for exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Formative assessment preparation and completion - problem solving exercises.
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials181:0018:00PiP lectures. Online lectures in case no PiP due to social distancing regulations.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:001:00End of semester examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion137:0037:00Reaffirming knowledge given in lecture material and working through examples provided and checking.
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities71:007:00Online practice problems
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops91:009:00Module induction and online workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery111:0011:00Office hour drop in sessions
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Online lectures are used to present the students with the knowledge base upon which they can develop their understanding of the subject area. On-line learning (such as practice and workshops) is used to help develop and test understanding of the knowledge base, and an understanding of the practical implications in specific situations. On-line learning is used to help develop self-evaluation and reflective learning.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A100online assessment as alternative in the case of no PiP examinations
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises1MN/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The end of semester 1 exam will assess the knowledge gained throughout the course, to ensure progression into the more physical components of the chemistry course will be facilitated.

Formative assessment will allow students' to gain understanding of their progress in the module.

** Students studying from abroad may request to take their exam before the semester 1 exam period, in which case the format of the paper may differ from that shown in the MOF. These students should contact the school to discuss this **

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