Foundations in Natural Science
|Module title||Foundations in Natural Science|
Dr Nicola King (Convenor)
|Number students taking module (anticipated)|
Description - summary of the module content
Biology, Chemistry and Physics are the core disciplines upon which our scientific understanding and teaching are based. Physics underpins our understanding of the real world with a mathematical framework based on fundamental laws; Chemistry derives knowledge of the composition, properties and behaviour of matter and materials; while Biology investigates the living world, deriving general principles and obtaining detailed insight into the way in which units of life relate to one another. In this module, you will be introduced to the key concepts of each discipline, while recognising the inter-reliance of each in understanding the Natural World.
This is a compulsory module for students on the BSc/MSci Natural Sciences, and is not open to students on other programmes.
The module requires a good A-level in mathematics, A-levels in at least two of Biology, Chemistry or Physics, (or equivalent) and natural curiosity.
Module aims - intentions of the module
The module aims to provide you with a detailed understanding of the core concepts surrounding Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The intention is that you will complete the module with a breadth of understanding sufficient to allow you to undertake core second year modules in each Discipline. Specifically:
Biology: You will be introduced to the concepts of biological diversity, evolution, the genetic basis of life and the boundaries that encompass biological systems. You will then explore the fundamental principles underlying these systems, at the level of the biochemical reaction, the cell, the tissue, the entity, the population and the environment. Specific examples will be used to reinforce your understanding and to relate the chemical and physical principles taught in the other areas of the module, to the biological world.
Chemistry: We will teach you how energy quantisation leads to the atomic and molecular orbitals that govern the physicochemical properties of substances and how to apply this knowledge in rationalising chemical reactivity and bonding. We will show you how to apply the laws of thermodynamics to predict the position of chemical equilibrium and how theories of reaction kinetics are used to interpret experimental data for reaction rates. We will teach you the nomenclature, structural representations and reaction mechanisms of organic chemistry, showing you how to apply this knowledge in chemical synthesis.
Physics: We will teach you how to make quantitative predictions about the physical world by combining physical principles to build mathematical models. You will be introduced to fundamental physical principles and some standard models of physics, including models for atoms, solids, liquids and gases, and light and sound. You will be guided in how to apply the principles of physics in new situations and manipulate mathematical formulae to build quantitative physical models. Your problem-solving strategies and strategies for identifying and remedying missing knowledge will be developed.
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
ILO: Module-specific skills
On successfully completing the module you will be able to...
- 1. Manipulate mathematical formulae to solve quantitative problems
- 2. Construct standard physical models of atoms, solids, liquids and gases, and light and sound
- 3. Apply the principles of physics in new situations to build quantitative physical models
- 4. Explain the trends in the properties and reactivity of elements in the periodic table in terms of atomic orbital theory
- 5. Explain aspects of the bonding and properties of simple molecules in terms of molecular orbital diagrams
- 6. Calculate reaction enthalpies, internal energy changes, equilibrium constants and related thermodynamic parameters for chemical reactions
- 7. Interpret experimental data for reaction rates, including those catalysed by enzymes, calculate rate laws, propose reaction mechanisms, and elucidate the structure of organic molecules
- 8. Use as appropriate the different mechanisms of organic chemistry to explain or predict the outcome of a reaction
- 9. Describe and explain the principle features of living systems
- 10. Show an understanding of the relationships between biological structure and function
- 11. Describe the general molecular and cellular processes used by organisms
- 12. Explain how heredity and the environment contribute to phenotype
- 13. Apply physical and chemical principles to biological systems
ILO: Discipline-specific skills
On successfully completing the module you will be able to...
- 14. Assess your knowledge and use appropriate sources to locate new information
- 15. Apply general problem-solving strategies
- 16. Use models to make predictions about real world behaviour
- 17. Describe essential facts and theories in science
- 18. Describe and begin to evaluate aspects of science and research articles
ILO: Personal and key skills
On successfully completing the module you will be able to...
- 19. Develop effective self-study skills
- 20. Develop effective time management strategies to meet deadlines for work
- 21. Communicate ideas effectively by written and oral means
- 22. Interact effectively in a group
Biological Content Summary
We will begin by addressing the concepts of space (boundaries), time, quantities and relationships of entities within the biological world, providing the framework upon which we build your understanding. We will then take a "bottom up" approach; building your knowledge of the fundamental building blocks of life leading to biological macromolecules. We then take you on a tour of the cell, before explaining the concepts of energy storage and release in animals and plants. Next, we will show you how those principles lead to the generation of life, and the diversity within. This takes us to the realm of the gene; the chromosomal and molecular basis of inheritance and how that information is expressed in the form of protein. With the building blocks of life in place, we switch to focusing on mechanisms of evolution, the tree of life, diversity of biological form and the major clades of life. We continue to work upwards to the level of multicellular plant and animal life, organ endocrine and reproductive systems before finally taking a look at ecosystems and their relationship to the natural world.
Chemistry Content Summary
We shall begin by discussing the origin of atomic orbitals, their shape, the associated quantum numbers and the rules governing the filling of orbitals with electrons, before seeing how this knowledge explains chemical properties and reactivity. We shall then see how the linear combination of atomic orbitals (LCAO) is used to construct molecular orbitals and so to explain the bonding and associated properties, including aspects of their bond vibration as evidenced by infrared spectroscopy, of some simple molecules. The course then turns to consider reacting mixtures of chemical substances, showing how thermodynamics governs the position of reaction equilibrium and outlining the theories of reaction kinetics used to interpret measurements of chemical reaction rate in terms of a rate law and a reaction mechanism. The underlying mathematics is considered in some detail and the overlap with physics (e.g. the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution for speeds of gas molecules) and biology (e.g. enzyme kinetics) is highlighted. With these enabling concepts in place, we shall then turn to structure and reactivity of organic molecules, pertinent in particular to the chemistry and biology of living systems. Prefaced by a discussion of orbital hybridisation and bonding in carbon, and including the analytical elements of mass spectrometry and of nuclear-magnetic resonance (NMR) and infrared spectroscopies, we shall explain how organic molecules are named and represented, how different functional groups impart different reactivity and how the main reaction types (addition, substitution and elimination) occur in mechanistic terms. This is the central synthetic framework for everything from the elucidation of biosynthetic pathways in nature, to designing new molecules and materials for use in all branches of science.
Physics Content Summary
We will teach you how to make quantitative predictions about the physical world by combining physical principles to build mathematical models. You will be introduced to fundamental physical principles and some standard models of physics, including models for atoms, solids, liquids and gases, and light and sound. You will be guided in how to apply the principles of physics in new situations and manipulate mathematical formulae to build quantitative physical models. Your problem-solving strategies and strategies for identifying and remedying missing knowledge will be developed.
Learning and teaching
Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||Guided independent study||Placement / study abroad|
Details of learning activities and teaching methods
|Category||Hours of study time||Description|
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching||44||Chemistry lectures (44 x 1 hour)|
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching||44||Biology lectures (44 x 1 hour)|
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching||44||Physics lectures (44 x 1 hour)|
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching||6||Chemistry tutorial support (6 x 1 hour)|
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching||6||Physics tutorial support (6 x 1 hour)|
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching||6||Biology discussion sessions (3 x 2 hours)|
|Guided independent study||450||Reading, private study and revision|
|Form of assessment||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Biology MCQ questions||5 x 10 minutes (within lecture)||9-12, 14, 17, 19-20||Oral within lecture|
|Physics problem sheet||1 hour||1-4, 14, 15-17, 19-20||Small group tutorial|
Summative assessment (% of credit)
|Coursework||Written exams||Practical exams|
Details of summative assessment
|Form of assessment||% of credit||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Biology MCQ test||5||1 hour||9-12, 14, 17, 19-20||Group tutorial|
|Biology group presentation||6||15 minutes||9-14, 17-22||Group tutorial, written feedback|
|Biology written examination (Term 1)||10||2 hours||9-14, 17-21||Individual tutorial|
|Biology written examination (Term 2)||10||2 hours||9-14, 17-21||Individual tutorial|
|Chemistry problem sheet 1||4||Completed in own time||4-8, 14-15, 17, 19-20||Small group tutorial|
|Chemistry problem sheet 2||4||Completed in own time||4-8, 14-15, 17, 19-20||Small group tutorial|
|Chemistry problem sheet 3||4||Completed in own time||4-8, 14-15, 17, 19-20||Small group tutorial|
|Chemistry problem sheet 4||4||Completed in own time||4-8, 14-15, 17, 19-20||Small group tutorial|
|Chemistry written examination (Term 1)||9||2 hours||4-8, 14-15, 17-21||Individual tutorial|
|Chemistry written examination (Term 2)||9||2 hours||4-8, 14-15, 17-21||Individual tutorial|
|Physics problem sheet 1||5||Completed in own time||1-4, 14-15, 17, 19-20||Small group tutorial|
|Physics problem sheet 2||5||Completed in own time||1-4, 14-15, 17, 19-20||Small group tutorial|
|Physics problem sheet 3||5||Completed in own time||1-4, 14-15, 17, 19-20||Small group tutorial|
|Physics written examination (Term 1)||10||2 hours||1-4, 15-21||Individual tutorial|
|Physics written examination (Term 2)||10||2 hours||1-4, 15-21||Individual tutorial|
Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)
|Original form of assessment||Form of re-assessment||ILOs re-assessed||Timescale for re-assessment|
|Final examination||Ref/def examination||1-21||August/September assessment period|
|Biology MCQ test||Additional Biology MCQ test (deferral only see below)||9-12, 14, 17, 19-20||August/September assessment period|
|Chemistry problem sheet 1-4||Additional Chemistry problem sheet (deferral only see below)||4-8, 14-15, 17, 19-20||August/September assessment period|
|Physics problem sheet 1-4||Additional Physics problem sheet (deferral only see below)||1-4, 14-15, 17, 19-20||August/September assessment period|
The number and complexity of the original assessments means that it is not practical to re-assess this module with identical re-assessments.
Deferral – if you have been deferred for any assessment, you will be expected to complete relevant deferred assessments as determined by the Mitigation Committee. If you have been deferred for any of the written examinations, you will be expected to complete a deferred examination. If you have been deferred in two or more assessments, other than a written examination, per subject area (i.e. Biology, Chemistry, Physics), you will be required to undertake an additional MCQ test (Biology) or problem sheet (Chemistry, Physics). If you have been deferred in a single assessment, other than a written examination, you will not normally be expected to submit a deferred assessment and your assessment mark will be set aside or substituted by proxy mark as agreed by the Mitigation Committee and as described in the Mitigation section of the Assessment Handbook. The mark given for re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.
Referral – If you have failed the module overall (ie a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further single examination paper covering Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.
Indicative learning resources - Basic reading
- Biology - Campbell and Reese, Biology (9th edition), Pearson International Edition, ISBN-13: 978-0321739759
- Organic Chemistry - Clayden, Greeves and Warren, Organic Chemistry (2nd edition), ISBN-10: 0199270295, ISBN-13: 978-0199270293
- Inorganic Chemistry - Housecroft and Sharpe, Inorganic Chemistry (4th Edition), ISBN-10: 0273742752, ISBN-13: 978-0273742753
- Physical Chemistry - Atkins, Peter W.; de Paula, Julio (2010). Physical Chemistry (9th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-954337-3
- Physics - Young and Freedman, University Physics (with Modern Physics) (13th edition), Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-321-76219-3 (UL: 530 YOU)
Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources
Module has an active ELE page
NSC1002 Mathematics and Computing: Integrative Tools for Natural Sciences, NSC1004 Experimental Science, NSC1005 Frontiers in Science 1
|NQF level (module)|
|Available as distance learning?|
|Last revision date|