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Promoting analytical and characterisation literacy in Organic Medicinal Chemistry teaching labs

This learning and teaching innovation project was funded by the Teaching Development Fund (Seed) in 2022/23.



Project status

In progress


Project started on 1 Aug 2023

Project Lead: Dr Robin Groleau, Department of Chemistry

This project, which was awarded funding by the Teaching Development Fund (TDF) Seed, Laboratory courses are a fundamental part of any undergraduate or postgraduate chemistry program. They allow students to engage directly with the science, gaining a deeper understanding of core concepts and practical aspects of the field by learning a variety of practical and technical skills.

This project will focus on two laboratory courses centred on Organic Chemistry for Drug Discovery and Medicinal Chemistry, which aim to provide students with hands-on practical experience that mimics an industrial placement in the pharmaceutical industry. Covering a range of practical, reasoning, writing, and data processing skills, these practical courses currently prioritise ‘wet lab’ synthetic skills. It has recently become apparent, however, that the focus of these courses should be redistributed in part to give greater importance to analytical and chemical characterisation skills.

This project will aim to increase the proportion of analytical and data processing tasks carried out by the students. To achieve this, we will look to produce high-quality data for the experiments being carried out by the students. This will require the synthesis, purification, and analysis of a range of organic molecules, whose data will be used to produce training materials and model data sets for students to practice their analytical skills.

This project aims to improve the quality of teaching in the practical component of two pre-existing Chemistry units (XX50228: Organic, medicinal, and pharmaceutical chemistry; CH30063: Chemistry project).

Although the focus of these lab courses has in the past been the practical ‘wet chemistry’ aspects of research, we now wish to increase the analytical, chemical characterisation, and structural elucidation aspects. Despite being core to a deeper understanding of chemistry, and crucial for anyone wishing to work in industry after graduation, these skills are often under-developed across the undergraduate community. [1,2] As this deficit is driven by lack of experience and structured training, we will produce high quality data for the students to process and analyse, complementing existing practical work. In combination with new and improved teaching materials (training videos, workshops, practice sets developed in line with recently proposed instructional model [3]) this increased experience should help improve these crucial skills.

  1. J. Res. Sci. Teach., 2010, 47, 643.
  2. Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2019, 20, 522.
  3. J. Org. Chem., 2021, 86, 1385.