University of Technology, Sydney

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65410 Skills for the Professional Chemist

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2019 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Science: Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 65212 Chemistry 2 OR 65213 Chemistry 2 (Advanced)


This subject provides students with the critical graduate competencies and attributes required when working in the science industry. Communication and academic literary skills are a strong focus, and they are developed and refined throughout the subject, with many opportunities for feedback. Practical skills are explored, with a focus on those employed as part of standard laboratory proficiency testing. The legislative environment in which practising scientists operate is explored, inclusive of risk and hazard management assessments. Methods for seeking out information and resources, data handling, data analysis and workplace behaviours are also covered in this subject. Students are encouraged to be self-motivated, work in a timely fashion and understand the importance of professional behaviour.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an ability to communicate relevant information in an appropriate way for a given environment at a high level (both verbal and written)
2. Source information from reputable sources, and synthesise this literature into a scientific argument
3. Conduct a risk and hazard assessment in a laboratory setting, and perform work safely
4. Appropriately handle and present data obtained from laboratory experiments, and report pertinent statistical intervals
5. Work as an effective and reliable team member, demonstrating the necessary organisation and planning skills, collaboration and project management
6. Demonstrate research, critical thinking and analytical skills
7. Engage in self and peer assessment

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of following course intended learning outcomes:

  • An understanding of the nature, practice and application of the chosen science discipline. (1.0)
  • Encompasses problem solving, critical thinking and analysis attributes and an understanding of the scientific method knowledge acquisition. (2.0)
  • The ability to acquire, develop, employ and integrate a range of technical, practical and professional skills, in appropriate and ethical ways within a professional context, autonomously and collaboratively and across a range of disciplinary and professional areas, e.g. time management skills, personal organisation skills, teamwork skills, computing skills, laboratory skills, data handling, quantitative and graphical literacy skills. (3.0)
  • The capacity to engage in reflection and learning beyond formal educational contexts that is based on the ability to make effective judgments about one’s own work. The capacity to learn in and from new disciplines to enhance the application of scientific knowledge and skills in professional contexts. (4.0)
  • An awareness of the role of science within a global culture and willingness to contribute actively to the shaping of community views on complex issues where the methods and findings of science are relevant. (5.0)
  • An understanding of the different forms of communication - writing, reading, speaking, listening -, including visual and graphical, within science and beyond and the ability to apply these appropriately and effectively for different audiences. (6.0)
  • An ability to think and work creatively, including the capacity for self-starting, and the ability to apply science skills to unfamiliar applications. (7.0)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The subject will provide you with the knowledge and skills to prepare you to practice as a professional chemist.

Graduate Attribute 1 - Disciplinary knowledge - In this subject, you will be encouraged to use discipline knowledge learnt in the lectures to influence your choices when designing a safe and appropriate experiment. You will use your knowledge of appropriate glassware, experimental bias and chemical safety to critically analyse an experimental method.

Graduate Attribute 3 - Professional skills and their appropriate application - The learning and teaching activities in this subject will enable you to gain a number of generic professional skills that are essential in your future workplace. They include a superior level of comprehension and analysis, data analysis and handling, time management skills, an ability to work effectively in a group and various practical skills. You will be evaluated on effective and consistent contribution to these over the course of the semester in the workshops, laboratory reports and major assignment. As scientists mostly work in groups, you will undertaken collaborative group work in workshops and practicals, as well as private work in the online component. Plagiarism is unacceptable at any level of science communication and it must not be committed by an ethical scientist – the ethical attitude in your professional roles is strongly emphasized in this subject. You will learn how to paraphrase and summarize texts without committing inadvertent plagiarism, and correctly reference materials used.

Graduate Attribute 4 - Ability and motivation for continued intellectual development – The feedback you receive on your work is typical of professional scientific practice and aims to motivate you to continuously improve your communication skills. You will be provided numerous opportunities to engage in reflection and develop the ability to make effective judgments about your own work and the work of others. You will be encouraged to undertake self-directed, curiosity motivated learning beyond the formal classroom environment.

Graduate Attributes 5 – Engagement with the needs of society – you will develop an understanding of how science underpins society and its application in the professional context. Critical discussions during workshops around complex, topical issues in science will be explored and assessed. This will involve you researching, identifying and engaging with current and future challenges affecting you as a professional.

Graduate Attribute 6 – Communication skills – Extensive development of written and oral communication is presented through a series of workshops, lectures and practicals. You will be offered numerous opportunities for feedback on communication skills. The specific aspects of written communication developed are the ability to write a risk and hazard report using appropriate language and format. Oral communication skills are also developed to you the confidence to deliver a formal group presentation and to facilitate effective interpersonal communication in group related tasks.

Teaching and learning strategies

This subjects involves a series of lecures, workshops and practical classes aimed at developing discipline specific professional skills, collaboration and critical thinking.

You will be introduced to key professional skills required as a practicing chemist; including data handling and analysis, practical laboratory skills, communication and laboratory safety and legislation. You will reflect on these key concepts and skills in the context of the industry in which they will operate through laboratory reports and a major group assignment.

In preparation for selected workshops, you will complete a series of activities which will prepare you for the in-class discussions, and revise material presented in the lectures. Post-workshop activities will consolidate your understanding of the workshop topic.

Feedback will be provided on your laboratory reports to help you develop and will be provided in time for its inclusion in subsequent reports. Feedback from academics and peers will also be available for your oral communication skills throughout the semester, and should be included in the planning and delivery of your major assignment presentation in the final workshop. Self and peer assessment will also be undertaken using the software program SPARKplus.

Content (topics)

Specific topics and skills to be presented and developed throughout the semester will include:

  1. Data handling and analysis
    1. Using Microsoft Excel
    2. Relevant statistical reporting
  2. Practical skills
    1. Quantitative chemistry
    2. Proficiency testing
    3. Making standard solutions and calibration
  3. Communication skills
    1. Scientific writing and referencing
    2. Oral presentation
  4. Chemical safety and legislation
    1. Health and safety in the laboratory
    2. Risk and hazard assessment


Assessment task 1: Laboratory


This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1. Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application

3. Professional skills and their appropriate application

4. An ability to be a lifelong learner

6. Communication skills


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0

Type: Laboratory/practical
Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 30%

For the laboratory reports, an assessment rubric is available on UTSOnline. The assessed criteria are:

Clarity and structure of report in the specified style

Quality and relevancy of the methods and materials used (when requested)

Accuracy of calculations and reporting of results

Accuracy of interpretation of experimental data

Correctness of answering questions related to the practical work

Logical and correctness of conclusion

Appropriate referencing

Performance in the laboratory: Some of the graduate attributes such as time management and teamwork skills are not specifically assessed as these attributes are required to complete the whole assessment tasks effectively. Students will also need to keep a laboratory manual documenting all aspects of their practical work.

Assessment task 2: Workshops


This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1. Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application

3. Professional skills and their application

5. Engagement with the needs of society

6. Communication skills


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0 and 7.0

Type: Exercises
Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 40%

Evaluation of your performance will include, among others: active contribution to class discussion and submission of class exercises; attendance; accessing additional teaching resources; completing online exercises and quizzes; participation in writing and speaking tasks in class; peer marking.

Assessment task 3: Major Assignment


This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1. Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application

2. An equiry oriented approach

3. Professional skills and their application

6. Communication skills


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 5, 6 and 7

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.0, 2.0, 5.0, 6.0 and 7.0

Type: Report
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 30%

Assessment will be based on:

  • Relevant selection, description and discussion of chemical and physical risks and hazards in the assigned experimental procedure
  • Appropriate reporting of relevant SDS information of hazardous chemicals
  • Appropriate formatting of report as specified in the assignment guidelines
  • Use of correct referencing convention, and supplying references as required
  • Demonstrating the capacity for independent and collaborative research
  • Completion of group member peer review on performance and contribution to the task
  • Clear delivery of a collaborative presentation on risk and hazard minimisation for safe execution in the assigned experimental procedure

Minimum requirements

Students are expected to attend all workshops.

Any assessment task worth 40% or more requires the student to gain at least 40% of the mark for that task. If 40% is not reached, an X grade fail may be awarded for the subject, irrespective of an overall mark greater than 50.

You must obtain an overall mark of 50 or greater to pass the subject.

Required texts

All readings and materials will be made available to students. There is no specific textbook.