Research-Led Learning in Action: Development of an Online Chemistry Course for Final-Year Undergraduates

Andrew F. Parsons*, Julia P. Sarju

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An online module for final-year master’s students has been developed over a 5-year period. The module allows equitable experiences for students studying in person at the University of York, at a university abroad, or undertaking an industrial placement. Distinctively, the module was designed around the use of modern research papers, published by Chemistry at York researchers, as vehicles of information. The approach allowed students to apply chemical principles learned in earlier years of their course to the solution of problems at the forefront of five chemistry specialisms, ranging from atmospheric and environmental, to physical chemistry. Learning objectives included an appreciation of the experimental and analytical techniques used in the research, as well as the development of scientific literacy and critical thinking skills. There was also an opportunity for students to develop communication skills through an optional competition. Staff collaborated with students as partners in the development of course content, as well as establishing student workload, and testing formative assessments. Student attitudes toward the module were monitored, which demonstrated an enthusiasm for the approach and coverage of material. The flexibility to work through the content at their own pace, at a time to suit them, was appreciated by students as a whole and highlighted in disabled students’ feedback. Challenges remain in engaging students to learn theoretical courses while wanting to focus on their individual capstone research projects. Assessment of students’ problem-solving skills by an in-person or online examination resulted in a consistent examination performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1877-1884
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc


  • Applications of Chemistry
  • Computer-Based Learning
  • Curriculum
  • Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary
  • Internet/Web-Based Learning
  • Multimedia-Based Learning
  • Problem Solving/Decision Making
  • Upper-Division Undergraduate

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