The Cardiff Learning and Teaching Experience
Teaching is undertaken through a series of lectures, tutorials, workshops and practical classes.
The major part of the teaching provided by the staff is through lectures, typically 10-12 lectures per week, each of 50 minutes duration. The subject matter is supported in various ways according to the nature of the topic, by slides,computer presentations, overhead transparencies, handouts and course summaries.
The second major part of teaching consists of the practical classes, again typically averaging about 10-12 hours each week. In the first year, the emphasis is on basic techniques and simple but accurate recording of observations. These skills are taught by practical demonstrations and supported by a range of e-learning resources available free to all students and readily accessible. The resources allow the students to gain an insight into practical techniques before attending any laboratory sessions. With a useful array of self tests, a whole host of differing practical techniques are explained and allow the student to make mistakes before actually attending the laboratory practical. Other resources provide support in the form of spectroscopic techniques theory and practical application. In later years, this progresses towards substantial experiments requiring careful planning, analysis and interpretation of results, and reporting to a professional standard. Practical work is integrated into each core module in the first two years, and this provides experience in all the main laboratory procedures and techniques across Chemistry. The training through the various years is designed to progressively extend the students level of proficiency in practical chemistry, ultimately reaching a standard commensurate to that of the degree being awarded.
Cardiff makes good use of Information Technology (IT) in its Chemistry degree programmes. Undergraduates are taught how to use the latest software and molecular modelling packages and it is expected that in the later years all submitted work should be professionally presented. Facilities to enable this are provided in the form of a well-equipped computer suite.
Tutorial classes in small groups are given in each scheme for all years spent in Cardiff to allow practice in the material presented in lectures, discussion and analysis of the lecture material, as well as the development of communication skills. These sessions are delivered by three allocated staff members, specialists in each of the areas of organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. Throughout the lifespan of the degree scheme, these tutors will remain assigned to the group. Each of these tutors will also be designated the personal tutor to 2 students within the group and with all staff operating an open door policy, students can always approach staff with any problems that they may have academic or otherwise.
Research Projects Research
All degree programmes have a major element of independent, supervised research. In the MChem Chemistry programme, this takes the form of a quadruple module in the fourth year, occupying about two days each week of both semesters. It includes planning, carrying out experimental work, analysis of results and reporting in a thesis. In the MChem with a Year Abroad scheme, a substantial part of the year away is spent on a research project in the host institution and a smaller project is undertaken upon return to Cardiff in the fourth year. For the MChem with a Year in Industry programme, the arrangement is the same, but in this case the independent work will be related to the activities of the industrial host.