Natural Sciences

Ecosystem & Environment, Earth Science and Chemistry

Natural Sciences is a multidisciplinary degree which allows you to study three subjects in the first year and continue with two subjects in the second and third year. 

Year One

You will study 40 credits of each subject from your chosen three-subject streams.

Ecosystem & Environment

Students to select 20 credits from the following list.

Earth and Environmental Dynamics

This module integrates knowledge taken from the hydrosphere, oceans and continents to inform an understanding of global physical systems as they affect people and the environment. The module considers:

  • hydrological cycles
  • principles of Earth and geomorphological systems
  • fluvial geomorphology and biogeomorphology

20 credits over the full year.

 
The Ecology of Natural and Managed Ecosystems

Pollinator species are hugely important for natural systems and for managed systems like agriculture, but there is concern that numbers are declining. This module introduces you to the principles of ecology and looks at how organisms have evolved to interact with their environment.

You’ll cover:

  • population and community ecology
  • the various definitions of biodiversity
  • the loss of species and habitats

You’ll have lectures from current researchers in the field and the opportunity to apply your learning in the laboratory and through field visits.

20 credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Climate, Atmosphere and Oceans

This module introduces key components of the Earth's circulation systems and how those contribute to determining the Earth’s climate on regional scales. It provides an overview of weather formation, atmospheric and ocean chemistry, large scale ocean circulation patterns, and Earth’s resulting climatic zones. It will introduce concepts of climate and how that impacts on functioning of the Earths ecosystems.

You will develop process based understanding of these factors practical as well as the spatial distribution of weather patterns and ocean currents. You will use models and field measurements of air flow to test how energy is transported.  We will look at the scale, rates, distribution and causes of weather systems and the implications of this for global climate change. We will examine the linkages between weather systems and ocean currents.

10 credits in the Spring semester.

 
On Earth and Life

On Earth and Life explores the deep historical co-evolution of Earth and Life and emphasises uniqueness of place and historical contingency. The module leads on from and complements Physical Landscapes of Britain in exploring geological, plate tectonic and palaeoenvironmental ideas and research, but at the global scale.

It emphasises the role of life in creating past and present planetary environments, and conversely the role of environment and environmental change in the evolution and geography of life. The module also serves to prepare the ground for and contextualise several second and third year geography modules, especially Environmental Change and Patterns of Life.

10 credits in the Spring semester.

 
Physical Landscapes of Britain

The module provides you with the theoretical background and practical training to undertake basic spatial analysis within a contemporary Geographic Information System (GIS). 

It is built upon a structured set of paired theory lectures and practical sessions, supported by detailed theory topics delivered via Moodle, which contain linkages to associated textbook resources. It aims to ensure competency in the use of a contemporary GIS software package whilst developing transferable ICT skills.

It also encourages you to develop the analytical skills necessary for the creation of workflows that utilise the built-in analytical functionality of a GIS to solve a spatial problem.

10 in the Spring semester.

 


Earth Science

Students must take a total of 40 credits. 20 credits are from a compulsory module.

Environmental Geoscience

Bulk properties of the Earth, minerals, igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks, metamorphic rocks, geological time, tectonics, geological structures, map interpretation, geological hazards, resource geology.

20 credits in the Spring semester.

 


Select a further 20 credits from the following optional modules:

Global Environmental Processes

The unifying theme of this module is biogeochemical cycling - the production, distribution and cycling of materials on the Earth and their availability to, and use by, biological organisms. The module starts by covering the history of the universe, from the big bang to the evolution of the Earth's surface environment. Then you will explore the major global systems and their circulations as they are today - solids, liquids and gases. In the final section you will examine the major materials - including carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, oxygen and metals - and their budgets and cycles; and the interactions between biological and physical/chemical processes on a global scale. You will have a two-hour lecture once a week for this module. 

20 credits in the Autumn Semester.

 
Physical Landscapes of Britain

This module provides an understanding of the history and origins of the Earth and its life and landforms through consideration of the following topics:

  • Development of life over geological time
  • Environmental changes over geological time
  • Field trip to the Peak District (full costs will be supplied nearer the time of the trip)

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

 
Introduction to Geographic Information systems
The module provides you with the theoretical background and practical training to undertake basic spatial analysis within a contemporary Geographic Information System (GIS). 

It is built upon a structured set of paired theory lectures and practical sessions, supported by detailed theory topics delivered via Moodle, which contain linkages to associated textbook resources. It aims to ensure competency in the use of a contemporary GIS software package whilst developing transferable ICT skills.

It also encourages you to develop the analytical skills necessary for the creation of workflows that utilise the built-in analytical functionality of a GIS to solve a spatial problem.

10 credits in the Spring Semester.

 
On Earth and Life
On Earth and Life explores the deep historical co-evolution of Earth and Life and emphasises uniqueness of place and historical contingency. The module leads on from and complements Physical Landscapes of Britain in exploring geological, plate tectonic and palaeoenvironmental ideas and research, but at the global scale.

It emphasises the role of life in creating past and present planetary environments, and conversely the role of environment and environmental change in the evolution and geography of life. The module also serves to prepare the ground for and contextualise several second and third year geography modules, especially Environmental Change and Patterns of Life.

10 credits in the Spring Semester.

 

Chemistry

40 compulsory credits:

Fundamental Chemistry Theory and Practical
This module shows how trends in chemical properties can be related to the structure of the Periodic Table and rationalise descriptive inorganic chemistry. 

To provide a fundamental understanding of the basics of organic chemistry, including nomenclature, molecular structure and bonding, stereochemistry and the chemical reactivity of common functional groups and reaction types through an understanding of their electronic properties. 

To provide an introduction to fundamental physical aspects of chemistry, which underpins all areas of Chemistry - emphasis will be placed on being able to apply knowledge, especially in solving problems. 

To introduce a range of chemical techniques appropriate to the study of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry at first year level, which will act as a foundation for more advanced work in subsequent years.

40 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

 

Compulsory module

All students are required to take a compulsary module, Academic and Transferable Skills Portfolio. This will be taught throughout the first full year. It will support organisational and professional competancies which will be used during the course.


Year Two

You will continue on your stream comprising of two of your first year subjects. You will take 60 credits of modules from each subject and greater emphasis will be put on studying outside of formal classes.

Ecosystem & Environment

Students to take 60 credits from the list below.

Environmental Change

This module considers the mechanisms for, and evidence of, global climate change during the timescale of the Quaternary period. The nature, causes and impacts of change are evaluated in the context of the available evidence within a range of natural and human environments. Evidence for human impact on natural resources is reviewed. Evidence for human impact on the global atmosphere, and the nature and impacts of future climate change are also considered. Students will gain an understanding of remote sensing for the study of land cover change.

20 credits throughout the year.

 
Fieldwork Skills

This module, run as a non-residential field course, will introduce students to a range of skills for environmental monitoring and ecological assessment. Students will develop key practical skills and gain valuable experience in planning and conducting fieldwork. There will be a strong focus on developing practical skills and enhancing employability in the environmental job sector. Students choose from a range of 1 or 2 day activities running through the year. These may include: 

  • Air and water quality monitoring
  • Contaminated land surveys
  • Using GPS and spatial sampling techniques
  • Terrestrial invertebrate survey techniques
  • Phase 1 habitat surveys- plant identification
  • Freshwater monitoring using BMWP and macroinvertebrates

20 credits throughout the year.

 
Techniques in Physical Geography

This module presents the opportunity for hands-on experience of field, laboratory, and computational analytical techniques in physical geography appropriate to the domain of interest of the participants. To achieve these aims all students participate, via small group teaching, in field projects on a residential field course, some of which are completed in the laboratory back in Nottingham, leading to an individual project. In addition, students choose further laboratory and analytical techniques to investigate, again via small group teaching, in the second semester. The ethical, safety and fieldwork limitations of geographical work are also considered.

  • Students may be required to make a financial contribution towards field trips.

20 credits throughout the year.

 
Ecosystem Processes

The course will focus on the processes that govern terrestrial ecosystem function. We will identify key ecosystem drivers and processes and explore how these have shaped the biosphere. Students will gain an understanding of the mechanisms that control changes in the physiochemical environment and their impact upon communities. Particular topics will include primary productivity, decomposition, herbivory, biodiversity and human impact on ecosystems. 

10 credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Forest Ecology and Management

This module introduces students to forest environments and ecology within natural and semi-natural and planted ecosystems. Students examine environmental and ecological factors affecting forest/woodland composition, structure, biodiversity and distribution, developing practical skills in tree species identification and survey techniques during fieldwork and site visits. Students gain an understanding for how woodlands are managed for environmental, wildlife conservation and commercial timber extraction, looking at the scale, rates, distribution and causes of deforestation and forest degradation and the implications of this for global and local ecosystem services. Looking at environmental and ecological impacts of deforestation, commercial forestry and afforestation, looking at different management objectives including timber production, environmental services, amenity and conservation. We will examine the impact of invasive species and pests and disease on tree species and woodlands, particularly in the UK. 

20 credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Climate Change Science

The module presents a broad overview the science that underpin climate change. It shows the importance of historical understanding in interpreting the present and predicting the future. It provides an understanding of the energy flows that are causing climate change, and insights into the way that computer models can be used to relate complex parameter sets. It reviews the impacts of climate change for plants, animals and people, both on land and in the oceans. It also shows how a range of options exists for reducing and stabilising climate change. Topics covered are: historical climate change; the principles of climate forcing; the role of modelling; responses of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, including impacts on humans; the political environment; and options for climate stabilization.

10 credits in the Spring semester.

 
Computer Modelling in Science: Introduction

Modern biological and environmental science includes the study of complex systems and large data sets, including imaging data. This necessitates the use of computer models and analyses in order to understand these systems. This module contains an introduction to computer programming and modelling techniques that are used in the biological and environmental sciences. Specifically, it contains: (i) An introduction to computer programming and algorithms, using the Python programming language. (ii) An introduction the construction of mathematical models for biological and environmental systems using difference and differential equations, with a particular emphasis on population dynamics, and the use of computing to simulate, analyze these models and fit these models to data. Throughout the module, the focus will be on relevant examples and applications, e.g. environmental pollution, growth of microbial populations, disease epidemics, or computer manipulation of images of plants, animals or the natural environment.

20 credits in the Spring semester.

 
Patterns of Life

The course focuses on patterns in the distribution of organisms in space and time, and theories proposed to explain those patterns. The main themes are listed below. Teaching is via a mixture of lectures and small-group discussions, centred on discussion of current research.  Exemplar topics include:

  • Biodiversity patterns
  • Island biogeography
  • Biodiversity dynamics
  • Speciation and extinction
  • Evolution

20 credits in the Spring semester.

 
Virtual Environmental Management Field Course

During this field course module you will look at the concept of catchment management and we will examine the impact of local land use on soil health and water quality. You will become familiar with techniques used in environmental monitoring and gain practical skills and experience in analysing and interpreting environmental data sets focused on assessing pollution risks.

10 credits in the Spring semester.

 


Earth Science

Students take 60 credits from this list

Techniques in Physical Georgraphy
This module presents the opportunity for hands-on experience of laboratory, field and surveying techniques in physical geography appropriate to the domain of interest of the participants. To achieve these aims all students participate in field projects on a residential field course, some of which are completed in the laboratory back in Nottingham, leading to an individual project.

In addition, you choose further laboratory techniques to investigate in the second semester. The ethical, safety and fieldwork limitations of geographical work are also considered.

20 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

 
River Processes and Dynamics

This module:

  • introduces the water and sediment processes that operate in rivers
  • describes the characteristic forms of alluvial channels and the links between river processes and channel dynamics
  • uses laboratory practicals and a field trip to deliver kinaesthetic, student-centred learning and add value to teaching and learning during lectures

Topics covered include:

  • catchments and longitudinal patterns
  • river planforms: braided, meandering and straight
  • timescales of river change and morphological adjustments
  • complex response in the fluvial system
  • flow resistance, sediment transport and bank erosion
  • an introduction to biogeomorphology and aquatic ecology

20 credits in the Autumn Semester.

 
Earth Observation

This module provides a general introduction to the subject of earth observation. This involves analysing remotely sensed images, typically acquired from instruments on board satellites or aircraft, to investigate spatial phenomena on the Earth's surface.

Example topics include the use of global image data sets to investigate climate change, analysis of satellite sensor imagery to identify wildlife habitats and conservation concerns, and urban land use mapping from detailed aerial photography. Theoretical lectures cover the concepts underpinning remote sensing, including the physical principles determining image creation, fundamental image characteristics, methods of image analysis and uses or applications of earth observation.

There is also a strong practical component to the module, with regular practical exercises on various forms of digital image analysis.

20 credits in the Autumn Semester.

 
Soils

Overview: Soils are the most complex biomaterial on earth. An understanding of the basic concepts concerning the form and function of soils is important for future management strategies such as mitigating the effects of climate change and providing safe and sustainable food. This module focuses on the important soil properties from physical, chemical and biological perspectives including soil organic matter (microbiology and chemistry); soil chemical reactions (acidity, redox); soil fauna and flora; soil-water relations (irrigation and drainage).

10 credits

 
Environmental Geochemistry

This module will develop understanding of the important chemical and physical processes that operate in the terrestrial environment, principally within soils and fresh water systems.  It includes the study of the hydrological cycle, surface and sub-surface water chemistry including rainfall, rivers and lakes, processes that govern the movement of solutes and colloidal materials, adsorption, redox, solubility, diffusion and kinetics.

10 credits.

 
Spatial Decision Making

Overview: This module provides a consideration of:

  • Spatial Decision Making & the role that GIS has in this
  • Spatial Data Types and Sources
  • Vector and Raster Processing Algorithms
  • Professional Training in ArcGIS
  • Project planning, implementation and reporting

20 credits .

 

 

Chemistry

50 compulsory credits from your chosen sub-stream plus 10 optional credits:

Organic and Inorganic Chemistry

Intermediate Organic Synthesis and Spectroscopy 

Develop an understanding of modern spectroscopic techniques (NMR, IR, UV and mass spectrometry) for the characterisation of organic and biological molecules to the extent that students have an intuitive approach to problem solving and structural analysis.

Aspects of the stereochemistry of bio-organic molecules, including prochirality, molecular chirality and properties of non-racemic compounds, conformational analysis and aspects of stereocontrol in bio-organic reactions are developed.

10 credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Intermediate Synthetic Organic Chemistry

The module is divided into two parts:

1. Functional group chemistry: synthetic transformations of alcohols, amines, carbonyls, and alkenes, and how these transformations are used to synthesise complex molecules such as natural products or pharmaceutical agents.

2. Synthesis: Introduction to retrosynthetic analysis and synthesis of organic molecules using a selection of pharmaceutical agents as examples. Formative feedback is given on the material in this module at the associated workshops. Summative feedback is provided after the exam by the module convenor.

 

10 credits in the Spring semester.

 
Core Laboratory Work 'N'

This module builds on the practical, analytical and communication skills acquired in the first year and introduces more advanced experiments across Inorganic, Organic and Physical chemistry (note – students choose 2 of the 3 from Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry). Increasing use is made of spectroscopic and other analytical techniques in the characterisation of compounds. More detailed laboratory reports will be required.

Students will:
• Be able to perform a range of standard & more advanced synthetic and analytical practical procedures safely and reliably using Good Chemistry Laboratory Practice (GCLP).
• Know how to prepare Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) and risk assessments.
• Be proficient in planning and organising time so that experiments are performed efficiently in the allocated time.
• Be competent in calculating amounts of reagents accurately.
• Be capable of accurately and precisely measuring reagents and preparing solutions.
• Be able to scientifically interpret results and observations and report your findings in a concise manner.

20 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

 
Intermediate Inorganic Chemistry

In this module students will gain knowledge and understanding of the importance of Main Group compounds across all branches of chemistry and materials science.

Education aims:

To survey the classical and new chemistry of the main group elements. 

To use group theory as a tool in the analysis of vibrational spectra in inorganic chemistry.

To give a concise introduction to the organometallic chemistry of the transition metals.

To use multinuclear NMR spectroscopy as a tool for the characterisation of molecules.

 

10 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

 

Or

Inorganic and Physical Chemistry specialism

Energy, Spectroscopy and Solid State Chemistry

This module introduces and builds on theories that can predict and describe accurately the physical principles underlying chemical phenomena, with emphasis on energy, quantum mechanics, spectroscopy and the solid state.

The module includes a basic introduction to quantum mechanics in Chemistry and an introduction to a range of spectroscopies applied to diatomic molecules. It will be shown how these methods are used to find out and understand information about the structure and bonding in diatomic molecules. Methods for calculating thermodynamic properties of single-component and multi-component materials in different phases will be developed, and there will be an introduction to solid-state chemistry, including the structure, characterisation, energetics and simple band theory of solids.

20 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

 
Core Laboratory Work 'N'

This module builds on the practical, analytical and communication skills acquired in the first year and introduces more advanced experiments across Inorganic, Organic and Physical chemistry (note – students choose 2 of the 3 from Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry). Increasing use is made of spectroscopic and other analytical techniques in the characterisation of compounds. More detailed laboratory reports will be required.

Students will:
• Be able to perform a range of standard & more advanced synthetic and analytical practical procedures safely and reliably using Good Chemistry Laboratory Practice (GCLP).
• Know how to prepare Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) and risk assessments.
• Be proficient in planning and organising time so that experiments are performed efficiently in the allocated time.
• Be competent in calculating amounts of reagents accurately.
• Be capable of accurately and precisely measuring reagents and preparing solutions.
• Be able to scientifically interpret results and observations and report your findings in a concise manner.

20 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

 
Intermediate Inorganic Chemistry

In this module students will gain knowledge and understanding of the importance of Main Group compounds across all branches of chemistry and materials science.

Education aims:

To survey the classical and new chemistry of the main group elements. 

To use group theory as a tool in the analysis of vibrational spectra in inorganic chemistry.

To give a concise introduction to the organometallic chemistry of the transition metals.

To use multinuclear NMR spectroscopy as a tool for the characterisation of molecules.

 

10 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

 

Optional Chemistry modules

And select an additional 10 credits from the following options:

Principles of Analytical Chemistry

You’ll be introduced to the principles of analytical chemistry, including the principal types of instrumentation used and the statistical treatment of analytical results.

You’ll attend two lectures each week studying this module.

10 credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Sustainable Chemistry

This module covers material related to developing a more sustainable approach to chemistry. You will learn what constitutes sustainable chemistry, the significance of new technologies such as synthetic biology, and recognise the problems in achieving sustainability.

10 credits in the Autumn semester.

 

Year Three

You will continue with the same two subjects studied in the second year, taking 50 credits in each.

Compulsory year three module

Alongside subject-specific study, you will undertake a 20-credit compulsory synoptic module which aims to tie together the subjects you are studying through an interdisciplinary group project.

The Natural Sciences programme is by nature interdisciplinary but is mostly taught via specialized modules delivered by individual Schools with little exploration of the interfaces between the sciences. The synoptic module (C13602) gives students the opportunity to combine knowledge and skills acquired whilst on their pathway to carry out a (number of) interdisciplinary piece(s) of work.

20 credits throughout the full year.


Ecosystem & Environment

Year three students to take 40-60 credits from the following list.

Global Climate Change

Description under review.

20 credits throughout the year.

 
Quaternary Environments

This module considers the Quaternary evolution, environmental and settlement history of three regions (low, mid and high latitudes) building on material covered in Environmental Change or Climate Change Science. The module will combine lecture based material, with laboratory based exercises and a field course where the practical aspects of this sort of work will be developed.

Course content will include:

  • An overview of climate change records in the three study regions (the Americas, the Mediterranean, northern hemisphere high latitudes);
  • Consideration of human – environment interactions over a range of timescales in those study regions;
  • Critical review of methods of environmental reconstruction, dating techniques and sampling methods (waters, soils, sediments) in different contexts;     
  • Archives of change relevant to the study areas;
  • Project design to understand past climate and environmental change.

* Students are required to make a financial contribution towards the cost of field trips.

20 credits throughout the year.

 
Computer Modelling in Science: Applications

Modern biological and environmental science includes the study of complex systems and large data sets, including imaging data. This necessitates the use of computer models and analyses in order to understand these systems.

This module contains an introduction to computer programming and modelling techniques that are used in the biological and environmental sciences. Specifically, it contains:

  1. Development, simulation and analysis for models in space and time, using the Python language, with applications in the biological and environmental sciences;
  2. Analysis of long term behaviour of models in two or more dimensions;
  3. Methods for fitting models to experimental and environmental data;
  4. Analysis of image data. The module will focus on relevant applications in environmental and biological science, e.g. chemical, radioactive and biological pollution, crop development and pathogens and microbiology. The module will use the Python programming language throughout and be assessed by a patchwork assessment consisting of write-ups of assignments from during the semester.

20 credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Ecosystems Function, Management and Conservation

Description under review.

20 credits throughout the year.

 
Palaeobiology

Palaeobiology explores the relationship between life and the Earth's physical and chemical environment over geological/ evolutionary time. The module will focus on the geological consequences of evolution and how life has influenced physical and chemical environment. Topics covered will include: Origins and evolution of life; Evolution of the atmosphere and biosphere; the geobiology of critical intervals in both palaeobiology and evolutionary ecology. Students will gain an in depth knowledge of the mechanisms that control changes in the physiochemical environmental and their impact upon evolution. In order to gain a broad understanding the module will explore past changes as seem in the fossil record, together with present day processes that underpin these responses. The lectures and course work will give students knowledge of the tools that are used to reconstruct past environmental conditions and the effect of future changes in the abiotic stimuli that drive environmental change.

10 credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Emerging Challenges in Biogeography

Description under review.

20 credits in the Spring semester.

 
Environmental Modelling

This module provides training in environmental biotechnology, with particular emphasis on the interaction between microorganisms and the environment. The main topics covered will be wastewater treatment, bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants, microbes as indicators of risk factors in the environment, microbes in agriculture (biocontrol and biofertilisers) and the role of microorganisms in bioenergy production. Each topic will be introduced by a formal lecture followed by workshops during which students will study the topics in greater detail through problem-based learning techniques facilitated by the Convenor and by independent research. Knowledge and understanding of the lecture material will be assessed by Rogo examination and students will present the problem based exercises and case studies within an individual portfolio during the final week of the module.

10 credits in the Spring semester.

 
Environmental Biotechnology

This module provides training in environmental biotechnology, with particular emphasis on the interaction between microorganisms and the environment. The main topics covered will be wastewater treatment, bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants, microbes as indicators of risk factors in the environment, microbes in agriculture (biocontrol and biofertilisers) and the role of microorganisms in bioenergy production. Each topic will be introduced by a formal lecture followed by workshops during which students will study the topics in greater detail through problem-based learning techniques facilitated by the Convenor and by independent research. Knowledge and understanding of the lecture material will be assessed by Rogo examination and students will present the problem based exercises and case studies within an individual portfolio during the final week of the module.

10 credits in the Spring semester.

 

 

Earth Science

Y3 students take 40-60 credits from the following:

Geological Hazards and Resources

A geohazard is a natural process or phenomenon that has the potential to adversely affect humanity by endangering life or property. A geo resource is a substance or commodity that can be extracted from the subsurface for use by humanity. This module will spend one semester focussing on these two important issues for Environment and Society.

20 credits throughout the full year.

 
Freshwater Management 

This module considers human attempts to manage and restore freshwater environments, specifically rivers, lakes and wetlands. It considers changes in the fluvial system that occur in response to river management and engineering and examines approaches to restoring the natural functions of rivers that have been heavily degraded by human impacts.

The module examines some of the main stressors on lakes and wetlands lake management, and approaches for their management using an ecosystem-scale approach. The principles by which restoration practice is guided will be considered, and criteria for selection between alternative strategies will be introduced. The module will consider water quality and legislative requirements for freshwater bodies.

The module includes a field trip where you will visit a local nature reserve and develop a management plan with input from management practitioners and land-owners. You will also be able to engage with river management practitioners in a series of guest lectures.

20 credits in the Autumn Semester.

 
Environmental Pollutants
 
Geophysics and Geological Mapping
 
Mineralogy and petrology
 
Palaeobiology

Palaeobiology explores the relationship between life and the Earth's physical and chemical environment over geological/ evolutionary time. The module will focus on the geological consequences of evolution and how life has influenced physical and chemical environment. Topics covered will include: Origins and evolution of life; Evolution of the atmosphere and biosphere; the geobiology of critical intervals in both palaeobiology and evolutionary ecology. Students will gain an in depth knowledge of the mechanisms that control changes in the physiochemical environmental and their impact upon evolution. In order to gain a broad understanding the module will explore past changes as seem in the fossil record, together with present day processes that underpin these responses. The lectures and course work will give students knowledge of the tools that are used to reconstruct past environmental conditions and the effect of future changes in the abiotic stimuli that drive environmental change.

10 credits in the Autumn semester.

 

Chemistry

Students taking Chemistry must take a total of 40-50 credits from their chosen specialism. 30 compulsory credits and 10-20 optional credits.

Organic and Inorganic Chemistry

30 compulsory credits:

Advanced Laboratory Techniques

To teach advanced experimental techniques in chemistry. To provide experience in the recording, analysis and reporting of physical data. To put into practice methods of accessing, assessing and critically appraising chemical literature. Following initial workshops there will be a focused literature review culminating in a mini research project. Experience in:

  • Experimental design and methodology
  • Using advanced experimental techniques in chemistry
  • The recording, analysis and reporting of physical data
  • The reporting of experimental results in journal style
  • Team working

10 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

 
Organometallic and Asymmetric Synthesis

On this module, students will develop an understanding of the mechanisms, regiocontrol and stereochemical outcome of organic reactions. You will also learn how to to predict the regiochemical and stereochemical outcome of organic reactions; and to use organometallics to create organic structures.

This module will also introduce students to a range of reagents and synthetic methodology, and to describe how it is applied to the synthesis of organic target molecules. 

10 credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Pericyclic Chemistry and Reactive Intermediates

On this module, students will learn:

  • To consolidate and develop concepts of organic reactivity and mechanism, primarily using qualitative frontier molecular orbital theory

  • To illustrate and rationalise molecular rearrangements in organic chemistry

  • To give an appreciation of the generation and use of reactive intermediates in organic chemistry

10 credits in the spring semester.

 

Optional Organic and Inorganic Chemistry modules

And select an additional 10-20 optional credits:

Bioinorganic and Metal Coordination Chemistry

Transition metal chemistry. The chelate effect. The physical methods used to study the electronic structure of transition metal centres. The roles of metalloproteins in dioxygen transport, electron transfer, photosynthesis and dinitrogen fixation. The use of polychelates in the synthesis of small molecule analogues of the active sites of metalloproteins. Supramolecular chemistry involving metal centres, the synthesis and characterisation of supramolecular arrays. Metal organic frameworks and gas storage. Molecular machines containing metal centres.

10 optional credits in the Autum semester.

 
Protein Folding & Biospectroscopy

This module will develop an understanding of protein structure, stability, design and methods of structural analysis. In addition you will understand the protein folding problem and experimental approaches to the analysis of protein folding kinetics and the application of site-directed mutagenesis.

You will also be expected to develop a number of spectroscopic experimental techniques to probe protein structures.

There will be two hours of lectures a week.

10 credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Chemical Biology and Enzymes

On this module, students should gain a good appreciation of the applications for a range of enzymological, chemical and molecular biological techniques to probe cellular processes and catalysis at the forefront in Chemical Biology research.

This module represents a culmination of principles and techniques from a biophysical, molecular, biochemical and genetic perspective.

10 optional credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Catalysis

This module increases the student's knowledge and understanding of 
(a) heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis 
(b) catalyst promotion and the concept of catalytic cycles.

The physical basis of the structure-property relationships of heterogeneous catalysts is explained and the link between various organo-transition metal complexes and homogenous catalysis is explored. Comparisons between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis are highlighted. A review of the 18- and 16- electron rules and fundamental metal-centred bond-forming and bond-breaking reactions is undertaken and applied to several catalytic cycles. The influence of catalyst design in homogeneous catalysts, with respect to choice of metal ion and ligands, is discussed relating to product selectivity, in particular chirality. A qualitative appreciation of scale up for industrial application.

10 optional credits in the Spring semester.

 

Or choose this Chemistry specialism:

Inorganic and Physical Chemistry specialism

30 compulsory credits:

Advanced Laboratory Techniques

To teach advanced experimental techniques in chemistry. To provide experience in the recording, analysis and reporting of physical data. To put into practice methods of accessing, assessing and critically appraising chemical literature. Following initial workshops there will be a focused literature review culminating in a mini research project. Experience in:

  • Experimental design and methodology
  • Using advanced experimental techniques in chemistry
  • The recording, analysis and reporting of physical data
  • The reporting of experimental results in journal style
  • Team working

10 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

 
Chemical Bonding and Reactivity

This module aims to:

  • provide a fundamental understanding of molecular structure and of the requirements for reactivity
  • introduce modern electronic structure theory and demonstrate how it can be applied to determine properties such as molecular structure, spectroscopy and reactivity.

At the end of the module, a student should be able to:
1. Understand the information contained in a simple potential energy contour plot
2. Appreciate the origin of the normal mode separation and the reasons for its breakdown
3. Appreciate the origin of the Born-Oppenheimer approximation and the reasons for its breakdown
4. Appreciate the role of symmetry in spectroscopic selection rules
5. Perform simple calculations of partition functions
6. Appreciate the concepts underlying RRK and Transition State theories and how they overcome limitations in simple collision theory
7. Describe and understand different electronic structure methods including Hartree-Fock theory and density functional theory
8. Understand the electron correlation problem
9. Appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of different electronic structure methods
10. Understand how theoretical methods can be used to model chemical reactions and spectroscopy.

10 optional credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Solids, Interfaces and Surfaces

Solids

Relationship between structure and properties of solids. Structure of Solids: Common structural types, reciprocal lattice, Brillouin zones. Electronic Structure: Sommerfield model, Fermi energy, Femi-Dirac distribution, Electronic conductivity, Band Structure, Nearly free electron model, Tight binding model. Metals, Semi-metals, Semi-conductors, Insulators. Characterization: X-ray spectroscopies, photoelectric effect. Semi-conductors: intrinsic, extrinsic, optical properties, photoconductivity, junctions, devices, LEDs, solar cells.

Interfaces and Surfaces

General introduction. Getting UHV, surface techniques, electron spectrometer, Auger electron spectroscopy. Surface Structure. Miller indices, 2D Bravais nets, relaxation and reconstruction, Wood and matrix notation. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Einstein's equation, chemical shift, Koopmans theorem. Fermi level, work function, contact potential difference, scanning tunnelling microscope. Ultra-violet photoelectron spectroscopy. Adsorption kinetics, accommodation, sticking, Langmuir and precursor state kinetics. Desorption, temperature programmed desorption, reaction mechanisms, Eley-Rideal, Langmuir-Hinshelwood.

10 credits in the spring semester.

 

Optional Inorganic and Physical Chemistry modules

And select an additional 10-20 optional credits:

Bioinorganic and Metal Coordination Chemistry

At the end of this module the student should be able to:

1. Recognise the roles of metalloproteins and metalloenzymes in controlling key biological processes.
2. Understand the chelate effect, and apply the principle to explain the stability and reactivity of polychelate complexes and the properties of the active sites of metalloenzymes.
3. Assess the structure-function relationships that control the reactivity and catalysis achieved by the metal centres involved in dioxygen transport, electron transfer, photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation.
4. Relate the chemical properties of complexes incorporated into supramolecular systems, metal organic frameworks, metalloproteins and metalloenzymes to the electronic structure of the metal centre.
5. Understand the role that transition metal centres can play in the rational design and chemistry of supramolecular assemblies, and metal organic frameworks.
6. Apply the above knowledge and understanding to a range of inorganic complexes relevant in biological and supramolecular chemistry.
7. Develop key written and communication skills

10 optional credits in the Autum semester.

 
Catalysis

This module increases the student's knowledge and understanding of 
(a) heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis 
(b) catalyst promotion and the concept of catalytic cycles.

The physical basis of the structure-property relationships of heterogeneous catalysts is explained and the link between various organo-transition metal complexes and homogenous catalysis is explored. Comparisons between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis are highlighted. A review of the 18- and 16- electron rules and fundamental metal-centred bond-forming and bond-breaking reactions is undertaken and applied to several catalytic cycles. The influence of catalyst design in homogeneous catalysts, with respect to choice of metal ion and ligands, is discussed relating to product selectivity, in particular chirality. A qualitative appreciation of scale up for industrial application.

10 optional credits in the Spring semester.

 
Structure Determination Methods

Various structure determination methods will be presented, covering a selection of spectroscopic and scattering methods. Advanced light and neutron sources will be introduced, moving on to their use in determining the structures of both isolated molecules and of solids (both crystalline and amorphous) and liquids.

10 credits in the Spring semester.

 
Topics in Inorganic Chemistry

This module covers Inorganic Mechanisms and the overarching fundamental principles of Greener and Sustainable Chemistry as applied to processes.

Topics covered for Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms include classification of the types of substitution reactions found in coordination and organometallic chemistry; explanation of how spectroscopic methods can be used to detect organometallic reaction intermediates.

Topics in-scope for discussion on the theme of Greener and Sustainable Chemistry include:

  • the principles of green chemistry
  • scale-up in the chemicals industry with case studies
  • cleaner polymerisation
  • clean extraction
  • oxidation processes including supercritical water

10 credits in the spring semester.

 


Year Four (MSci students only)

You will choose one of your third-year subjects to focus on in the fourth year, spending half your time working on an independent research project aiming to develop the skills needed to pursue a career in research.

All students take 120 credits of modules in the fourth year and each subject has a minimum number of credits listed. Students can take 120 credits from a single subject (where available) or they can use modules from their second subject to make up the difference between the minimum and the required number of credits.

Ecosystem & Environment

You must take a minimum of 110 and maximum of 120 credits from ecosystem and environment throughout the year.

Compulsory modules

MSci Research Project

The aim of the module is to provide training for the description, planning and conduct of a programme of research in order to solve or report on a specific scientific problem. The MSci project is taken in both the autumn and spring semesters and comprises 60 credits. In the autumn the student will work with the supervisor to devise a project by identifying an appropriate topic before focusing on a specific scientific problem. This will involve regular planning meetings and individual research by the student. In the spring semester the students will undertake the main body of work for the project which may be experimental, computer, literature or theoretically based (or various combinations of these). The student will continue to have, as a minimum, monthly supervisor meetings and document all progress in their project notebooks. The module is assessed by a project write up in the style of a scientific paper, the project notebook and a poster presentation with an oral component to the staff and the student cohort.

60 compulsory credits over the full year.

 
Project Management

Project management skills are a highly transferable skill directly relevant to work. The module covers the fundamentals of project management:

  • project lifecycles
  • leadership in project management
  • managing risk in projects
  • analysis of project successes and failures
  • project management software

You will produce a documented project management outline tailored to your research project. You'll identify the key constraints, bottlenecks and milestones. You'll produce a project management visualisation diagram such as Gantt or PERT chart. You'll present an interim verbal report to your supervisors and the module convenor to rehearse such reporting skills.

10 compulsory credits over the full year.

 
Statistics and Experimental Design for Bioscientists

Principles of experimentation in crop science, basic statistical principles, experimental design, hypothesis testing, sources of error, analysis of variance, regression techniques, presentation of data, use of Genstat for data analysis. There are two routes through the module; one focusing on crop improvement and one focusing on more general issues.

10 compulsory credits throughout the year.

 
Writing and Reviewing Research Proposals

The overall aim is to consider, and practice, writing and assessing research proposals. In the real world, one may have to communicate the importance of a research/scientific idea to experts within your discipline or to non-specialist professionals. The module aims to develop your skills in analysis and writing of research proposals. Specific areas covered include: communicating with awarding bodies (how to develop a research idea and write a grant application) and peer review of research proposals.

20 compulsory credits over the full year.

 
Communication and Public Engagement for Scientists

This module considers:

  • The importance of engaging publics with cutting edge research
  • Methods of engagement that are suitable for varying audiences
  • How to write for varied audiences
  • How to engage with policymakers and industry
  • Public speaking skills
  • The planning, development and delivery of an engagement event for the public/policymakers

10 compulsory credits in the Spring semester.

 

Plus an optional module if you wish to take it:

Climate Mitigation

The module will address the need for climate change mitigation and will investigate the frameworks for achieving mitigation on a range of levels, e.g. global, national, organisational. During the module students will examine a range of topics including: carbon capture and storage, nature based solutions, renewable energy, national greenhouse gas accounting, organisational emission quantification and reductions, carbon foot printing, and off setting.

10 optional credits in the Spring semester.

 

 

Earth Science

You must a take a minimum of 80 and a maximum of 120 credits from earth science throughout the year. 

60 compulsory credits:

Natural Sciences Dissertation

The aim of the module is to provide training for the description, planning and conduct of a programme of research in order to solve or report on a specific scientific problem. The MSci project is taken in both the autumn and spring semesters and comprises 60 credits. In the autumn the student will work with the supervisor to devise a projectby identifying an appropriate topic before focusing on a specific scientific problem. This will involve regular planning meetings and individual research by the student. In the spring semester the students will undertake the main body of work for the project which may be experimental, computer, literature or theoretically based (or various combinations of these). The student will continue to have, as a minimum, monthly supervisor meetings and document all progression in their project notebooks. The module is assessed by a project write up in the style of a scientific paper, the project notebook and a poster presentation with an oral component to the staff and the student cohort.

60 compulsory credits  throughout the full year.

 

 

A minimum of 20 and up to a maximum of 60 credits can be selected from the following:

Water Quality Assessment

This module provides an overview of water quality assessment techniques, including chemical, biological, sensor and long-term reconstruction methods. The majority of the module will be taught as part of a residential three-day field course, supplemented with laboratory practical work. You will get hands-on experience in techniques and their application.

The module will be underpinned training in the by a theoretical understanding of the water quality and its drivers at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Training will include how to devise appropriate water quality management plans and use of benchmarking tools from environmental monitoring agencies.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

 
Advances in Managing Rivers and Catchments

This module will focus on the following themes:

  • Key river and catchment processes 
  • Impacts of anthropogenic (ie climate, land-use) change on rivers and catchments
  • Current and historic river/catchment management practises 
  • Tools and techniques for monitoring and mapping rivers and catchments
  • Modelling rivers and catchments to test management scenarios

10 credits in the Spring Semester.

 
Statistics and Experimental Design

Principles of experimentation in crop science, basic statistical principles, experimental design, hypothesis testing, sources of error, analysis of variance, regression techniques, presentation of data, use of Genstat for data analysis. There are two routes through the module; one focusing on crop improvement and one focusing on more general issues.

10 compulsory credits throughout the year.

 
Communication and Public Engagement

This module considers:

  • The importance of engaging publics with cutting edge research
  • Methods of engagement that are suitable for varying audiences
  • How to write for varied audiences
  • How to engage with policymakers and industry
  • Public speaking skills
  • The planning, development and delivery of an engagement event for the public/policymakers

10 compulsory credits in the Spring semester.

 

Chemistry

Students taking Chemistry must take a minimum of 80 and a maximum of 120 credits from this subject.

60 compulsory credits:

Chemistry Research Project

You will be welcomed into one of the research groups within the School of Chemistry to undertake an in-depth research project.

All projects will involve a review of relevant published work and the planning and execution of a research topic under the guidance of two supervisors. Students will present their findings orally and in a written report.

60 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

 

 

And a minimum of 20 credits to a maximum of 60 credits from the following optional modules:

Enterprise for Chemists

Students will learn about the factors that lead to successful commercial innovation and how to take a technical idea and convert it into a successful commercial venture. They are shown routes to market for innovative ideas available from an academic/industrial viewpoint Assessment in SEM 1 will be via group exercise and presentation; teams have 3 weeks to develop the business case for a new innovation as a Dragon’s Den Style Pitch which is given in late November.

Students will also learn about different types of business and how they contribute to the global economy. Some of the basic business skills will be covered (selling, marketing, customer awareness and finance) as well as the aspects which drive innovation and success.

We also give students an understanding of intellectual property, how it is used to create value in the business context. Aspects of IP law are highlighted with reference to different types of IPR including patents, trademarks, copyright, design rights and trade secrets including their everyday application within chemistry using industries.

This course demonstrates utilisation of this IP to give a company a competitive advantage within their market place.

At the end of the course students participate in a one day business exercise led by professionals from a chemicals company that tests all of the above skills in an interesting and realistic approach to commercial problem solving.

10 optional credits throughout the full year.

 
Advanced Physical Chemistry 1

Building on your knowledge from the previous years' modules in inorganic chemistry, you’ll study topics including:

  • electron transfer pathways
  • inorganic chemistry in biological systems
  • the principles of molecular and supramolecular photochemistry
  • applications of inorganic photochemistry
  • photocatalysis

You’ll attend two lectures each week in this module. 

10 optional credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Contemporary Organic Synthesis and the Construction of Bioactive targets

Explore the synthesis of a variety of natural (and unnatural) compounds of relevance to biology and medicine, with reference to the goals and achievements of contemporary organic synthesis through a range of case studies. There is an emphasis on the use of modern synthetic methodology to address problems such as chemoselectivity, regiocontrol, stereoselectivity, atom economy and sustainability.

You will also study the application of new methodology for the rapid, efficient and highly selective construction of a range of target compounds - particularly those that display significant biological activity. There will also be an opportunity to address how a greater understanding of mechanism is important in modern organic chemistry. This module is assessed by a two hour exam.

10 optional credits in the Autumn semster.

 
Inorganic and Materials Chemistry A

In this module you will explore inorganic photochemistry, electron transport pathways, molecular and supramolecular photochemistry, and artificial photosynthesis together with the principles that underpin green chemistry.

You will attend two lectures per week in this module.

10 optional credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Inorganic and Materials Chemistry B

This module focuses on Inorganic Photochemistry, Molecular Machines and the applications of photochemistry tochemical manufacture. 

10 optional credits in the Autumn semester.

 
Advanced Biocatalysis, Biosynthesis and Chemical Biology

Advanced Chemical Biology:

To introduce concepts of chemical genetics and including activity-based protein profiling, non-natural amino acid incorporation, bio-orthogonal reactivity and the use of bump-and-hole strategies, applied to various challenges such as finding kinase/target pairs.

Biocatalysis

To introduce enzyme engineering and the synthetic utility of designer biocatalysts, especially highlighting chemo-enzymatic approaches toward chiral commodity molecules (e.g. pharmaceuticals) and their precursors.

Biosynthesis

To introduce the biosynthetic pathways and enzyme catalysed reactions leading natural products polyketides, terpenes, fatty acids and non-ribosomal peptides.

10 optional credits in the Spring semster.

 
Advanced Physical Chemistry 2

Building on your knowledge from the previous years' modules in inorganic chemistry, you’ll study topics including:

  • electron transfer pathways
  • inorganic chemistry in biological systems
  • the principles of molecular and supramolecular photochemistry
  • applications of inorganic photochemistry
  • photocatalysis

You’ll attend two lectures each week in this module. 

10 optional credits in the Spring semester.

 
Medicines from Nature/Pharmaceutical Process Chemistry

This module consists of two separately taught topics in advanced organic chemistry: Medicines from Nature (Dr Francesca Paridisi ) and Pharmaceutical Process Chemistry (Dr Andrew Nortcliffe).

Medicines from Nature

To provide an appreciation of the importance of natural products from plants, micro-organisms and marine life in providing leads for today’s drugs and medicines in the fight against cancer, blood pressure, pain, inflammation, bacterial infection, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases. How the discovery of biological activity in a natural product can be turned into a useful medicine. The topic will include descriptions of the biosynthesis and total synthesis of natural products.

Pharmaceutical Process Chemistry

This topic explores the role of the chemist in developing a viable commercial synthesis of medicines starting from a small scale. After a description of the place process chemistry takes within drug discovery as a whole, the topic will cover the following: Selection of chemical routes to medicines and assessment of their worth; Safety; Reagent selection; synthesis of chirally pure compounds; How reactions and reaction workups may be optimised.

10 optional credits in the Spring semester.

 
Molecular Interactions and Supramolecular Assembly

In this module you will learn about the importance of intermolecular forces, across a wide cross-section of subject areas from biology through to supramolecular chemical systems.

You will study molecular organisation, assembly and recognition in biological and supramolecular systems.

In addition to appreciating the rich chemistry underlying self-assembling systems, you'll learn about the phenomena that impact on the properties of materials and important interactions in biology. 

10 optional credits in the Spring semester.

 
Nucleic Acids and Bioorganic Mechanism

During this module you will learn to understand in depth the structure, chemistry and molecular recognition of nucleic acids and their reactivity towards mutagens, carcinogens and ionising radiation and anti-tumour drugs. You will appreciate the plasticity and dynamics of the DNA duple helix through base motions that underpin its function.

The bacterial replisome will be used as the prime example to highlight the problems associated with DNA replication and the significance of telomeres will be discussed. Alongside this you will develop an understanding of the chemical reactivity of coenzymes and how these add significantly to the functionality of the 20 amino acids found in proteins. 

10 optional credits in the Spring semester.

 

Disclaimer
This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

Natural Sciences

School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham
University Park
NG7 2RD

Tel: +44 (0) 115 823 2376
Fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3555
Email: naturalsciences@nottingham.ac.uk