(Original post by Nirgilis)
The straight chemistry timetabling and module system is easy to comprehend as opposed to medicinal chemistry, chemical biology and chemistry with management!
So, I'll try lay it out for you:
The weekly hours do vary immensely, however, we have a minimum of 20 hours a week (after consulting last term's timetable) if you turn up to all the compulsory lectures and the non-compulsory maths lectures (I'll explain later). Some weeks have lectures, labs, tutorials and workshops all crammed into 5 days, with several weeks a term matching or exceeding 30 hours. While 9am to 7pm with an hour for lunch is unenviable (especially with arts students on 7-9 hours a week
), those days do exist (though they're much more rare for straight chem as opposed to the option chemistry degrees) and you're definitely getting value for money.
You will take 5 modules in the first year; organic, inorganic, physical, maths and labs. Of these you will have lectures for all of them except labs with 4-6 lectures for each module a week. Lecturers are all top quality, though the physical chemistry thermodynamics lecturer is sooooo dull, only a select few people can stay awake. However, so long as you can do the problems sets provided, you will be fine. The lecturers (other than maths and thermo) only take sets of about 8-10 lectures, so it's rare to have the same lecturer for more than 3 weeks. You will find everybody turns up to the first lectures and then attendance rates lower throughout the term, but I can guarantee that turning up is the best option.
This is a special case. Every 1st year has to pass maths with 80% or above in order to proceed to 2nd year (you get 4 attempts). This is only A2 level standard of maths, so if you have done it to A2, it's really nothing to worry about. Lectures for these are non-compulsory, however, once the syllabus for the maths exam has been taught, Professor Bon does start to explain the underlying principles of thermodynamics. But, unless you are Albert Einstein, you are probably unable to understand any of it, hence the non-compulsory nature.
Labs are tough. No way around it. Undergraduate labs are every Thursday in term 1 and every Thursday AND Friday in term 2 (first years). The evening before your labs you must complete a theory test on the upcoming labs. Try 10 times and don't get full marks, you get 0 for the experiment. The labs themselves are gruelling. Technically we get 11-4 to do all the experiment - not enough time for some of them by a long shot. However, if you are not cleaning up by 3.30, 5% will be docked for poor time keeping. This often means no lunch break, and sometimes no break for a drink! Postgraduate students are on hand in your group of 5/6 to help and answer any questions, and they will mark your write up. We also have an overseeing professor who is analogous to Professor Snape from Harry Potter - he is the essence of evil. If you don't have any idea why you just added one thing to another, you are a failed chemist and are better off becoming a chef as even they can follow experiment protocol ('recipes'). He will dock marks for poor lab practice, whether it be weighing material incorrectly or have apparatus that isn't set up securely. You can view this in two ways - he's just teaching you the labs oldschool, or he's evil
. If, however, you know the experiment and can do them correctly, he's perfectly nice. He also will not take offense in asking for his assistance. It's just a matter of doing that before he gets to you
. The write-ups take anywhere from 2-6 hours to complete, though you have 7 days to submit it. Overall, the labs will take up 36 credits - more than any other module, so it's best to spend some time to get the most marks.
You are assigned a tutor for each module. Three or four times a term, worksheets will be set for you to complete, hand in and get feedback for. This happens in your lab groups of 5/6 and are pretty much like an A-level class. The marks don't count, though you do have to try the sheets as they can refuse you entry to the tutorial and this will get recorded on your record.
These happen with about 70 of you in a lecture theatre and they are basically large tutorials. You get given a sheet, two or three professors then wonder around giving you help should you need it! These will not be taken in and not marked.
The entire degree is assessed by end of year exams, though there are January 'feedback' exams. Unfortunately, the first year does count (10% BSc, 5% MChem). You are required to reach 40% in each exam to pass into the 2nd year (apart from maths) and any score below 40% will require you to resit in September. If you then fail again, you cannot proceed.
While the workload is great, the course is great fun. If you would like to know anything more specific, just let me know!