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Unit of study_

CHEM3912: Materials Chemistry (Adv)

This course concerns the inorganic chemistry of solid-state materials: compounds that possess 'infinite' bonding networks. The extended structure of solid materials gives rise to a wide range of important chemical, mechanical, electrical, magnetic and optical properties. Consequently, such materials are of enormous technological significance as well as fundamental curiosity. In this course you will learn how chemistry can be used to design and synthesize novel materials with desirable properties. The course will start with familiar molecules such as C60 and examine their solid states to understand how the nature of chemical bonding changes in the solid state, leading to new properties such as electronic conduction. This will be the basis for a broader examination of how chemistry is related to structure, and how structure is related to properties such as catalytic activity, mechanical strength, magnetism, and superconductivity. The symmetry of solids will be used explain how their structures are classified, how they can transform between related structures when external conditions such as temperature, pressure and electric field are changed, and how this can be exploited in technological applications such as sensors and switches. Key techniques used to characterise solid-state materials will be covered, particularly X-ray diffraction, microscopy, and physical property measurements. CHEM3912 students attend the same lectures as CHEM3112 students, but attend an additional advanced seminar series comprising one lecture a week for 12 weeks.


Academic unit Chemistry Academic Operations
Unit code CHEM3912
Unit name Materials Chemistry (Adv)
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

[(65 or greater in (CHEM2401 or CHEM2911 or CHEM2915)) AND (65 or greater in (CHEM2402 or CHEM2912 or CHEM2916))] OR (65 or greater in (CHEM2521 or CHEM2921 or CHEM2991))
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Girish Lakhwani,
Lecturer(s) Ronald James Clarke ,
Administrative staff For queries, please contact Chemistry Education Support team at
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam Examination
Written examination made up of short answer questions.
36% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO8
Assignment hurdle task Investigative lab report and presentation
Lab report submitted on Canvas and Presentation done online.
33% Multiple weeks See canvas for details
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assignment Written Assignment(s)
Written assignment(s). See canvas for details
24% Multiple weeks See canvas for details
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4 LO7 LO8
Assignment Adv assignment 1
Advanced assignment(s). See canvas for details
7% Multiple weeks See canvas for details
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO7 LO8
hurdle task = hurdle task ?
  • Examination: The theory course represents 67% of the unit mark. The theory component of the course must be passed for the unit for the unit to be passed. The final examination is worth 54% of the theory mark. It covers the whole of the lecture course and is made up of short answer questions. Past exam papers are available on the Canvas site for this unit. Theory component also includes written assignment.
  • Laboratory: The laboratory course represents 33% of the unit mark for students enrolled in CHEM3912. It is assessed through a variety of in-class and online activities. The laboratory course must be passed for the unit for the unit to be passed. In addition, you must attend 90% of allocated experimental sessions to pass the laboratory course.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

At HD level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject as well as a detailed and
comprehensive understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’
reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the
ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original
solutions for novel or highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical
discussions of theoretical concepts.


75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge
and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging problems
and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.


65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit
material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a
broad general understanding of the unit material and can solve routine problems
and/or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.


50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’
reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, and the resources available to all students.

The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of dishonesty, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Multiple weeks Introduction to solid state chemistry (weeks 1-5) Lecture (9 hr)  
Bonding in solids (weeks 5-6) Lecture (3 hr)  
Materials chemistry (alloys, ceramics, electrolytes, fuel cells, batteries) (weeks 8-13) Lecture (12 hr)  
Two 4-hour practicals per week for half of semester Science laboratory (52 hr)  
Advanced: Contemporary topics in Nanoscience (weeks 2-7) Seminar (6 hr)  
Advanced: Contemporary topics in quantum chemistry (weeks 8-13) Seminar (6 hr)  
Week 07 Magnetic Materials Lecture (2 hr)  

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate an understanding of the nature of a chemical bond in a solid state and how its structure is related to material properties including catalytic activity, mechanical strength, magnetism, and superconductivity
  • LO2. classify the structure of solid state materials with the help of symmetry and various spectroscopic techniques and apply the knowledge to examine how these structures can be transformed to technological applications.
  • LO3. perform safe laboratory manipulations and to handle glassware
  • LO4. find and analyse information and judge its reliability and significance
  • LO5. communicate scientific information appropriately both orally and through written work
  • LO6. engage in team and group work for scientific investigations and for the process of learning
  • LO7. demonstrate a sense of responsibility and independence as a learner and as a scientist
  • LO8. demonstrate basic skills in computing, numeracy and data handling.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
No changes have been made since this unit was last offered

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances 
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory 
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories 
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door 
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory 
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.