Online chemistry course takes over from day-release predecessor

Online chemistry course takes over from day-release predecessor

The first students have taken their places in a new part-time online chemistry course at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, UK, designed for technical staff working in industry allied to the chemical sciences.

The two-year course, which is taught through the university’s Virtual campus (, is well suited to technicians working in Scotland - notably in the oil and distillery industries, and the pharmaceutical and broader food industries. ’Really any industry which might have a laboratory and employ technical staff,’ says course leader Hazel Wilkins.

The course replaces a day-release higher national certificate in applied chemistry, which the institute, a former polytechnic, had been running for over 20 years. Day release was failing to attract students as employers prefer not to release employees for a full day. Distance learning on the Virtual campus means that students only have to make it to the university for one day in January, one day in May and one week in August, though face-to-face tutorials are available - ’Blended learning appears to be the new jargon!’ says Wilkins. Practical work in the new diploma in higher education in applied chemistry is divided between summer schools and the option of a project at the students’ place of work.

Although successful students are eligible to convert to relevant degrees, the aim of the course is to develop students’ understanding of chemistry and form part of a professional career structure. This is good news for those who fear a lack of capacity in the UK further education sector (see Chemistry World, December 2004, p12). The course, funded with support from the European Social Fund Objective 3 partnership, will include underpinning in inorganic, physical and organic chemistry for scientific analysis.

Bea Perks