Designs for a New Chemistry Teaching Laboratory
The Department of Chemistry is one of the world’s largest and most successful research departments, birthplace of the lithium-ion battery and the glucose sensor, and home to Nobel-prize winning research on chemical reaction rates, radioactivity, organic synthesis, and the structure of penicillin.
The new Tinbergen chemistry teaching laboratories will house the practical component of the undergraduate course. The aim of this ‘hands-on’ section of the course is to equip students with practical skills and problem solving abilities. Courses are updated regularly to ensure that experiments illustrate real-world applications of chemistry and that students are familiar with state-of-the-art equipment.
In 2016 the Department of Chemistry will celebrate two important anniversaries: the centenary of the opening of the Dyson-Perrins Laboratory, one of the first custom- built chemistry laboratories in the UK; and the inauguration of its unique ‘Part II’ research year, during which undergraduates spend an entire year working within a research group on a project at the forefront of chemistry. To mark these anniversaries, the Tinbergen chemistry labs will provide a suite of custom-designed undergraduate laboratories suited to 21st century science.
Oxford Chemistry offers world-class teaching, consistently rated among the best in the UK. Students study a four-year M.Chem. course, a unique feature of which is spending their final year working full-time on a project with some of the leading researchers in the UK.
The new Tinbergen chemistry teaching laboratories will house the practical component of the undergraduate course. The aim of the practical course is to ensure that students are able to perform a chemical investigation accurately, safely and efficiently, so that by the end of the course they are ready to work in a chemical research laboratory.
The practical course teaches the essential experimental skills, from the synthesis and characterisation of compounds to the operation of spectrometers and other instruments for physicochemical measurements. Students also gain experience in computer applications and chemistry software packages, including structure drawing and molecular modelling. In addition to honing students’ experimental skills, the practical course also makes tangible much of the material covered in lectures and tutorials
The chemistry teaching labs are not only used by the undergraduate students but also extensively by Oxford Chemistry’s outreach team.
Scientific knowledge underpins many aspects of everyday life. Oxford Chemistry’s outreach team aims to make science exciting, understandable, and relevant to
the general public in an attempt to encourage more people to take an interest in chemistry and to encourage more students to study the subject beyond secondary school.
The outreach team works with schools and colleges from across the UK to promote and teach chemistry to students of all ages. It regularly presents demonstration lectures, energetic and exciting displays of chemistry illustrating phenomena
such as catalysis, temperature change, and the effect of carbon dioxide on the environment. Other more specialised lectures run throughout the year, aimed at a variety of different age groups and audiences, from primary schools to the general public. Many school groups visit the department to take part in masterclasses, tours, and open days. A wide range of fun and challenging practical activities have already been enjoyed by thousands of visiting students from hundreds of schools
The team supports teachers in raising aspirations and inspiring the next generation of chemists, and aims to grow the outreach programme. The new Tinbergen chemistry labs will enhance the ability to offer high quality outreach activities to schools, providing state-of-the-art facilities and increasing capacity.
The University received £5m from HEFCE which was part of a £200m Government investment STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teaching capital funding designed to:
provide new or upgraded STEM teaching facilities to meet increased demand for STEM provision
support an increased flow of STEM graduates into the industries that underpin the Government’s Industrial Strategy aims
support the Government’s aim of a wider and more representative student population across subjects.
Consolidating three teaching laboratories into a single, state-of-the-art facility will allow Oxford Chemistry to overhaul the curriculum. New experiments, designed in collaboration with key company partners, will make the course more directly relevant to industry and enhance the skills and employability of our graduates. The department will be able to provide purpose-built facilities for disabled students, such as height-adjustable lab benches and fume cupboards for wheelchair users.