Introductory Practical Science

Module summary

Module code: CHEM1153
Level: 0
Credits: 30
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Science
Module Coordinator(s): Sarah Harris



• To introduce basic practical techniques and to develop the associated skills
• To convey the importance of health and safety in chemical and biological laboratories
• To familiarise students with GLP, the recording of data and recognising sources of experimental error

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

1 Outline key aspects and practices relating to health and safety in the laboratory.
2 Perform a range of widely used basic laboratory skills.
3 Explain and apply the fundamental tenets of the scientific method of enquiry.
4 Analyse, evaluate and interpret simple experimental data sets.
5 Present written up practical work concisely and professionally.
6 Demonstrate basic practical skills in tasks specific to their chosen degree pathway.

Indicative content

Introductory Practical Science provides students with a foundation of transferable practical skills necessary for progression to level 4 experimental work in chemistry, biology, forensics, nutrition, geography and the pharmaceutical, environmental and biomedical sciences. To this end, significant biochemical and biological and content is included in addition to chemistry content.

-Health and safety in the workplace. Hazards, risks, COSHH, precautions, PPE.
-Basic overview of the scientific method: hypothesis, falsifiability, reproducibility.
-Good laboratory practice (GLP), approaches to taking and logging measurements, identifying and minimising sources of random and systematic experimental uncertainty (error), accuracy and precision, rounding off and significant figures.
-Scientific writing styles: laboratory notebook format and lab report writing style. Presentation of data by tabulation and graph plotting.
-Common laboratory equipment and procedures e.g. glassware, use of balance, pipettes (including biochemical Gilson pipettes), filtration, microscopes, contamination avoidance.
-Core laboratory practicals: building skills that are applicable accross all programmes e.g. acid-base titration, org/inorg/biochemical spot tests, protein quantification, DNA isolation, separation techniques e.g. chromatography.
-Pathway-specific practicals: introducing skills more specific to the disciplines of forensics, nutrition/biosciences, pharmaceutical sciences and geography/environmental sciences.