(Original post by chrisawhitmore)
Contact hours vary slightly week to week depending on tutorials and modules, but for most people it is: 7 hours of labs per week, 2 hours of organic lectures per week, 2 Hours of inorganic lectures per week, (Second semester only: 3 hours of Physical chemistry lectures per week), 4 hours of additional modules per week, plus any tutorials (averages to about another hour a week). So 1st semester 15-16 hours, 2nd semester 18-19 hours.
The course was really fun, extremely interesting and managed to be challenging without being impossible. Basically, if you put in the work, you will pass pretty well (most people I know who put in the effort got either a 1st or 2:1 on the year)
For the 40 extra credits you'll have a varying level of choice depending on your a-levels and whether they count the foundation year as A levels, but I took the Physics for Scientists and Special Topics in Chemistry 1 modules in the first semester and the Elements of Chemical Physics and Special Topics in Chemistry 2 modules in the second semester.
The Physics modules were really good, covering everything from nanotechnology to relativity in a way that was pretty manageable and engaging (it stayed interesting despite the best efforts of the timetabling staff. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is rather difficult to get your head around at 9am)
The special topics modules get extremely conditional recommendation, as it all comes down to what sort of assessment suits you.
Special topics 1 is basically a series of guest lectures on various chemistry related topics (We had topics as disparate as Nano-engineering, drug design and marine pollution) which is assessed through a single multiple choice test which comes down to how detailed your notes were and how good your memory is, as well as a 1000 word 'newspaper article' on a lecture of your choice and 3 200 word lecture abstracts on assigned lectures (basically just summaries of the key points)
Special topics 2 is the one which caused most people problems. The module is not really taught at all, but has 2 seminars at the start to set you going on the 3 assessment tasks. All of the information is from Special topics 1, so I wouldn't take it it unless you're doing both, and the assessment is split across 2 group projects and a 3-5 thousand word essay on a topic of your choice related to one of the ST1 lectures, in which most of the marks are for proper citation of sources. The Group tasks are a poster and a 15-20 minute verbal presentation (though ours ran to nearly 45mins) on different ST1 lectures which take a lot of work to organise (we spent 1-2 hours a week in group meetings plus solo research). If you are a more self motivated person and work well in groups, I'd recommend you do these, but I didn't like having a large part of my mark depend on other people, and I have a tendency to leave things to the last minute, which is not really feasible for a 3-5 thousand word essay (mine was 3040 words).
As for the lecturers, they are mostly excellent, with special mentions due to Doctors Stephenson, Lancaster and Richards who were particularly good. The ones whose topics I struggled with were Doctors Goss and Wildgoose though that is probably as much a reflection of the topic as the lecturer. The other staff member who deserves a mention is Dr Fuller, the Senior demonstrator who is in charge of the Labs and is really helpful. It's well worth talking to her about the experiment if you have spare time, as you'll invariably end up learning something extra about the chemistry involved.
If you want any more details please feel free to ask, I'm sure I've missed things, but I hope this at least partially answers your questions.