CHEM30090 Chemistry of Materials

Academic Year 2024/2025

An introduction to synthesis and properties of a wide range of polymer materials will be given. These embrace plastics, rubbers, fibres, foams, coatings and adhesives that find use in our daily life and biodegradable polymers. Included are commodity products and high performance engineering materials.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module student are expected to1) Relate polymer properties to macromolecular structure when evaluating polymer crystallinity, glass and melt transition temperatures, and elastomeric vs. plastic behaviour. 2) Demonstrate knowledge of the main features of polymer chain growth in step and chain polymerisations. 3) Outline reactions and reaction conditions of industrial and laboratory processes relevant to the manufacture of polyamides, polyesters, polyurethanes fibres and foams and polymers derived from olefin monomers such as styrene, vinyl chloride, and acrylates. 4) Describe examples of nanostructured thermoplastic elastomers, examples of biodegradable polymers and of polymers that can be used in medicine.

Indicative Module Content:

History of polymer discovery and design,
semisynthetic polymers via modification of natural polymers,
fully synthetic polymers made from petrochemicals
Structures and properties of commercial polymer materials manufactured via step growth polymerisation:
Nylons, polyaramides, polyesters, amorphous polycarbonate, flexible polyurethane foams, rigid polyurethane foams, thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers.
Structures and properties of commercial polymer materials manufactured via chain growth polymerisation involving free-radical, cationic, anionic and transition metal catalysis polymerisation methods. Examples include polystyrene, polyacrylonitrile, polyacrylates including superglue, polyethylene and polymers obtained via ring-opening polymerisations such as
Nylon-6, polyoxymethylene and polycaprolactone. A significant part of this module will deal with the synthesis of these materials, which in some cases will include details of reaction mechanisms. A large proportion of the chemistry is based on organic chemistry methology.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a predominantly lecture-based module. The mode of delivery is face-to-face and it includes videos uploaded on BrightSpace. The course content will be delivered in 30 lectures. Continuous assessment includes in-class tests and homework assignments.
Materials engineering and nanophysics students will get an additional 6 tutorials on the relevant background in organic chemistry.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a very minor chance that the mode of delivery, assessment and content of the module may be subject to change. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

Engineering and physics students are encouraged to register for CHEM30090, but those students must take the 6 tutorials.
Chemistry students, and those who have achieved the learning outcomes of either CHEM20060 or CHEM10050 or equivalent modules covering the basis of organic chemistry do not need to take the tutorials.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade

Not yet recorded.

Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

The class will be informed about the correct answers to the continuous assessment exercises after the students have completed the respective assessment and they will be given on overview of typical errors made.

Name Role
Assoc Professor Eoghan McGarrigle Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Grace Morgan Lecturer / Co-Lecturer