This free online course explores a range of chemistry-based topics relating to our everyday lives, with an emphasis on the important role of organic chemistry – the study of carbon-containing organic compounds. Activities include experimenting ‘in the kitchen’ with hands-on projects ranging from extracting a plant fragrance, to testing the activity of spices against microbes. The course will be particularly useful for sixth formers who are interested in developing independent learning skills to help the transition to university.
Use real-life examples to study organic compounds
During each week of the course, we will use real-life examples to show you how an understanding of the structure and shape of organic compounds can be used to explain their reactivity and properties.Week 1: The chemical attraction of perfumes and pheromones
We’ll identify a range of natural and synthetic attractants; understand current theories that help to explain how chemical structure is related to smell; and make a molecular model.Week 2: The race for new antibiotics
We’ll describe the mode of action of antibiotics; understand bacterial resistance; identify promising new areas of research to design smarter drugs; and explore pattern recognition in structure-activity relationships.Week 3: The chemistry of brewing
We’ll describe the process of brewing; identify key flavouring compounds in beer, tea and coffee; understand the role of modern analytical methods; and analyse spectroscopic data.Week 4: The chemistry of sport
We’ll explore innovations that are changing the game; identify modern materials that improve performance and aid protection; and model the structures of polymers.
Learn with organic chemistry experts from the University of York
The University of York is a centre of excellence in chemical education, being the home of Salters' Advanced Chemistry (Science Education Department), the A-level magazine Chemistry Review, and it has a notable history and track record in outreach, principally by our CIEC group, including The Essential Chemical Industry website.
The course is designed for anyone with an interest in chemistry (a GCSE level of science is recommended), but will be particularly useful for sixth formers to aid the transition to study science at university.
You can use the course to support your UCAS personal statement and prepare for university study by broadening your chemistry knowledge and developing your independent learning skills.