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Chemistry: further concepts and applications

Chemistry is fundamental in our lives and this module explores chemistry in the context of the natural world, from its role in the environment, in both aqueous and atmospheric systems, to that in plants and animals, in proteins and metabolism. This online module, which includes experimental work, builds on key concepts in inorganic, physical and organic chemistry, exploring the subtle interplay between molecular structure, chemical reactivity and their practical consequences. Application of this chemistry is considered, with topics ranging from materials, industrial and environmental catalysis and pollution control, to diagnostic and therapeutic medicine, as well as strategies for the synthesis and structural determination of organic molecules.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module

Module code
S315
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.

OU SCQF FHEQ
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

Chemistry has a major and far-reaching impact on our daily lives. From its role in the natural world, in our bodies and in the environment, to its importance in the production of new materials and drugs, chemistry plays an integral part in our understanding of these processes and interactions.

This module is designed to stimulate your interest in chemistry, and to increase your knowledge and understanding of chemical principles through exploring the natural and ‘synthetic’ world. You will study important concepts in physical, inorganic, organic and biological chemistry and explore how these concepts shape our understanding of the world around us.

The module is delivered entirely online; audio, video and interactive activities are integrated throughout the module texts. The module is based on ten topics with a particular focus on the two main themes underlying the module: chemistry in the natural world, and chemical reactivity: molecular design and synthesis. An understanding of the chemical processes that take place in the natural world, the focus of the first theme, is vital for the development and production of modern materials, medicine, and so on, the focus of the second theme. Key to both is an understanding of the structure of molecules and materials, and so this is explored in a third theme, related to structural determination.

Theme 1: Chemistry in the natural world

Knowledge of the role that chemistry plays in living systems is vital, both in understanding life processes themselves and in the treatment of disease. Similarly knowledge of aqueous chemistry, in particular how pH effects the chemical species present in solution, is critical in our understanding of the natural environment. Furthermore an appreciation of atmospheric chemistry is important to rationalise climate change and the development of materials for pollution control.

Through this theme you will explore:

  • how the structure of a protein influences the function that it plays in living systems
  • the influence of pH on the chemical species present in solution and its significance on solubility, metal complexation and speciation, both in the environment and the body  
  • how metal ions are acquired by living systems from the environment, how they transported and ultimately how they are stored
  • the processes within living systems involved in building ‘biominerals’ such as teeth and bones
  • the roles that metal ions play in processes in the body, from communication to metabolism and their importance in metalloproteins, a class of proteins containing metal ions within their structure, such as iron in haemoglobin
  • atmospheric chemistry, in particular how materials released into the air by human activities can alter the natural system.

Theme 2: Chemical reactivity: molecular design and synthesis

The guiding principles that govern whether, how and under what conditions substances will react with one another are of central importance in all areas of chemistry. They impact in many ways on modern life, from the production of vital everyday materials – drugs, fuels, plastics, fertilisers – to the control of pollution in our environment.

The principles derive from two of the most important cornerstones of physical chemistry: thermodynamics and chemical kinetics. A key aim of the module is to examine the practical consequences that arise as a direct result of the interplay between these two fundamental concepts.

Through this theme you will explore:

  • the steps involved in chemical reactions at the molecular level (the mechanism)
  • the processes involved in catalysis, particularly at solid surfaces where the world market for solid catalysts is immense, and in enzymes which elegantly catalyse reactions in the body
  • how drug molecules interact with molecular targets such as enzymes and other proteins, one of the key drivers behind much of the design and development of new drugs
  • the factors that are important in the design of molecules and materials for a range of applications, from organic molecules in drugs, metal complexes in medical diagnostics and therapy, to the ‘catalytic convertors’ used to control exhaust emissions
  • the wide range of reactions in use today for the synthesis of organic compounds with specified structures and stereochemistry, in chemical research and in industry; the choice of reaction, reactants and reaction conditions

Theme 3: Structural determination

The structure of a molecule, be it a protein or a drug, is integral to its function. Similarly, in an effort to optimise the performance of solid catalysts, the ability to characterise the surface and study the interactions of molecules with the surface is important.

Through this theme you will explore:

  • the methods used to determine the structure of a protein
  • the techniques which can be used to understand the chemistry taking place at metal centres within proteins
  • the theoretical basis and application of NMR spectroscopy, a key technique used to determine the structure of organic and inorganic molecules
  • the techniques used to examine the surface of solid materials and species at adsorbed on the surface.

Scientific skills

In addition, at appropriate points in your studies you will undertake activities to develop your scientific skills through a mixture of onscreen practical investigations and scientific literacy activities. Use is made of online databases, both those available through the library to investigate the scientific literature, as well as external sites such as the RCSB Protein Data Bank and associated visualisation tools/software.

You will learn

The module aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of:

  • protein structure and function
  • aqueous chemistry and its relationship to natural environments
  • the roles that metals and their complexes play in living systems and in medicinal applications
  • chemical reaction mechanisms, particularly in the context of atmospheric chemistry and catalysis
  • how molecules can be designed
  • the synthesis of organic molecules
  • characterisation techniques to determine the structure of proteins, organic and inorganic molecules and surfaces

In addition, scientific skills such as critical analysis, problem solving, scientific literacy and exploration of scientific databases will be developed.

Vocational relevance

By studying this module you will develop your understanding of chemistry over a broad range of topics, covering inorganic, organic, physical and biological chemistry. In addition you will develop key skills in numeracy, experimental investigation, problem solving, critical reading and interpretation of scientific literature, digital literacy, scientific communication and the use of modern databases.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with your studies and mark and comment on your written work. Tuition will be delivered online, both in small group sessions delivered specifically to your tutor group by your tutor and in larger module-wide sessions available to the all students studying the module which will be delivered by academic experts in each particular field. Your tutor will also offer advice and guidance through email and a module forum supported by the team of tutors and module team provides continuous study support and acts as a virtual self-help group.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances you must inform the University and negotiate with your tutor about submission on paper

Future availability

Chemistry: further concepts and applications starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2022.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents website.

    Course work includes:

    6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    Examination
    No residential school

    Course satisfaction survey

    See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


    Entry requirements

    This is an Open University level 3 module and you need to have a good knowledge of chemistry, obtained through study of the OU level 2 module, Chemistry: essential concepts (S215) (or the discontinued module The molecular world (S205)) or equivalent study at another university.

    Students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully and get the most enjoyment and satisfaction out of the module. 

    Whilst this module has been designed to be studied as part of a natural sciences degree, it can also be studied on a standalone basis assuming that you have the necessary background.

    It is essential that you establish whether or not your background and experience give you a sound basis on which to tackle the module, since students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully. The Science Faculty has produced a booklet Are You Ready For S315? to help you to decide whether you already have the recommended background knowledge or experience to start the module or whether you need some extra preparation. 

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    06 Oct 2018 Jun 2019 £2928.00

    Registration closes 13/09/18 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2022.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Residential schools

    This module includes one or more optional residential schools. For each residential school you choose to attend, you must pay an additional charge to cover costs such as tuition, accommodation and meals (see the module details for more information). You’ll also have to pay for your own travel to and from the venues.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 15/08/2018.

    What's included

    This module does not have any printed material. All the teaching and assessment materials are embedded within, or linked to from, the texts of the module, which are accessed via a dedicated website.

    Downloadable eBook versions of the study texts for each topic are also available.

    You will need

    A scientific calculator.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a desktop or laptop computer with Windows 7 or higher.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying S315 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Overcoming barriers to study if you have a disability or health condition website.