Skip to main content
Unit of study_

CHNG5601: Membrane Science

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

"Membrane Science" provides background in the physics and electrochemistry of a variety of synthetic membranes used in industry as well as cellular membranes. The course aims to develop students' understanding of: - membrane self-assembly and manufacture; - membrane separation processes such as filtration, desalination, ion exchange and water-splitting; - and techniques for membrane characterisation and monitoring.

Unit details and rules

Unit code CHNG5601
Academic unit Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Zongwen Liu,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Assignments
60% Multiple weeks Two weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment hurdle task Final exam
Taking home and open book exam
40% Week 12 2 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
hurdle task = hurdle task ?

Assessment summary

  • Assignment 1 will focus on statistics and entropy. This assignment is worth 15% of your overall assessment. 
  • Assignment 2 will focus on osmosis membranes and applications. This assignment is worth 15% of your overall assessment. 
  • Assignment 3 will focus on membrane fouling due to concentration polarisation. This assignment is worth 15% of your overall assessment.
  • Assignment 4 will focus on electrochemical analysis of bipolar membranes. This assignment is worth 15% of your overall assessment. 
  • Final assignment will be an open-book abd taking home assignment comprised of several questions covering the course work. Answers will be hand written except for software programs, tables and graphs generated from software, e.g. spread sheets. A student must get 40% in the final assignment to pass the unit, regardless of the sum of his/her individual marks.


Each assignment and the final exam are to be completed and submitted within 2 weeks.

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



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

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

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

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.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity 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 integrity breaches seriously.  

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

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Membranes: Intermolecular and interfacial forces Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Introduction to bio-, ultra-, micro-, nano- and osmosis membranes Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 02 Relationship between entropy, temperature, pressure and volume Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Relationship between entropy chemical potential, concentration and temperature Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 03 Thermodynamics of solutions and osmosis Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Interfacial energy density and surface tension Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 04 Hydraulic conduction through pores Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Membrane materials and manufacture Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO5
Week 05 Performance evaluation of micro- and ultra- filtration membranes Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Concentration polarisation and fouling Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 06 Reverse osmosis membranes Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Pressure retarded membranes and systems Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Forward osmosis membranes and systems Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Drift and diffusion of neutral molecules through membranes Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 08 Electrostatic properties of charged molecules, ions, electrodes and membranes Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO4
Drift and diffusion of charged molecules in membrane systems Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO4 LO5
Week 09 Electrostatic properties of metal and reference electrodes Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Electrostatic properties of reverse osmosis, ion exchange and bipolar membranes Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 10 Membrane potentials and measurements Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Characterisation of ion-exchange membranes from current-voltage measurements Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Week 11 Bipolar membranes and water splitting Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Hydrogen and Ceramic Fuel Cells Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 12 Revision of course material requested by students Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

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.

Required readings

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

  • R. K. Hobbie, Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology. John Wiley
  • W. Ho and K. K. Sirkar, Membrane Handbook Part VIII Microfiltration. Chapman Hall Plus
  • B. Nölting, Methods in Modern Biophysics. Springer
  • H. G. L. Coster, Thermodynamics of Life Processes. UNSPress (Library reference only)
  • “Intermolecular and surface forces”, Israelachvili, Elsevier

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. understand and interpret the physico-chemical basis of new developments in membrane technology for industrial and biomedical purposes
  • LO2. monitor membrane processes in context and evaluate membrane functionality
  • LO3. demonstrate knowledge of the physical and physico-chemical basis of membrane processes
  • LO4. use quantitative descriptions of ionic transport in synthetic membranes
  • LO5. categorise assembly processes in the manufacturing processes of synthetic membranes.

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

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No significant changes have been made since this unit was last offered


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.