• University of York

Exploring Everyday Chemistry

Explore the organic chemistry behind perfume, medicine, brewing and sport from one of the UK's leading universities

26,422 enrolled on this course

a picture of lab equipment and chemical solutions, overlaid with chemical compound structures

Exploring Everyday Chemistry

26,422 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 5 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

This free online course explores a range of chemistry-based topics relating to our everyday lives, with an emphasis on the important role of organic chemistry – the study of carbon-containing organic compounds. Activities include experimenting ‘in the kitchen’ with hands-on projects ranging from extracting a plant fragrance, to testing the activity of spices against microbes. The course will be particularly useful for sixth formers who are interested in developing independent learning skills to help the transition to university.

Use real-life examples to study organic compounds

During each week of the course, we will use real-life examples to show you how an understanding of the structure and shape of organic compounds can be used to explain their reactivity and properties.

Week 1: The chemical attraction of perfumes and pheromones

We’ll identify a range of natural and synthetic attractants; understand current theories that help to explain how chemical structure is related to smell; and make a molecular model.

Week 2: The race for new antibiotics

We’ll describe the mode of action of antibiotics; understand bacterial resistance; identify promising new areas of research to design smarter drugs; and explore pattern recognition in structure-activity relationships.

Week 3: The chemistry of brewing

We’ll describe the process of brewing; identify key flavouring compounds in beer, tea and coffee; understand the role of modern analytical methods; and analyse spectroscopic data.

Week 4: The chemistry of sport

We’ll explore innovations that are changing the game; identify modern materials that improve performance and aid protection; and model the structures of polymers.

Learn with organic chemistry experts from the University of York

The University of York is a centre of excellence in chemical education, being the home of Salters' Advanced Chemistry (Science Education Department), the A-level magazine Chemistry Review, and it has a notable history and track record in outreach, principally by our CIEC group, including The Essential Chemical Industry website.

Download video: standard or HD

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Chemical attraction

    • Welcome and overview

      An introduction to the course: the aim of the course, what we will do and how we will do it.

    • Understanding chemical structures, naming and fragrance composition

      In this section we cover some of the essential chemical concepts needed to understand fragrances and pheromones, from drawing chemical compounds to recognising functional groups and naming carbon-chains.

    • Mechanisms and shape theory

      An introduction to acid-base reactions, nucleophilic substitution mechanisms and the concept of resonance.

    • Fragrant organic compounds from roses and oranges

      In this activity we will have a look at the organic compounds responsible for the highly recognisable smells from roses and oranges.

    • Organic compounds in pheromones

      In this section we will look at the organic compounds responsible for trail pheromones, alarm pheromones and sex pheromones in animals and question whether humans exhibit pheromones too.

    • End of week test and concluding thoughts

      The final test for the content from week 1 - chemical attraction

  • Week 2

    The race for new antibiotics

    • Welcome and overview: an introduction to antibiotics

      An introduction and overview of the history of antibiotics.

    • Understanding penicillin

      An introduction to the chemistry of penicillin: looking at its biosynthesis, the mode of action and resistance.

    • Broadening the horizons of antibiotics

      An introduction to the synthesis of penicillin analogues and SARs.

    • An overview of other antibiotics

      An introduction to other beta-lactam antibiotics and non-beta-lactam antibiotics.

    • Understanding the economics, morality and new directions of antibiotics

      An introduction to the economics and morality of antibiotic discovery and new directions for antibiotics.

    • End of week test and concluding thoughts

      The final week 2 test

  • Week 3

    Understanding brewing

    • Welcome and overview

      An introduction and overview of the world of brewing.

    • The chemistry of flavour

      In this activity we introduce the chemistry of flavour.

    • The chemistry of tea

      An introduction to the brewing process of tea, looking at the chemistry of taste and the flavour components that go into making the final brew.

    • Brewing beer

      An introduction to the stages of brewing beer, organic flavour compounds and the stability of the final brew.

    • Understanding the role of antioxidants

      An introduction to the chemistry of antioxidants, looking at the role of the phenolic antioxidants present in tea that help to promote a healthy body.

    • The chemistry of coffee

      An introduction to the chemistry of coffee, looking at the key reactions that take place in the coffee roasting process and the decaffeination processes.

    • End of week test and concluding thoughts

      The final test summing up the content from week three.

  • Week 4

    Chemistry in sport

    • Welcome and overview: an introduction to chemistry in sport

      An introduction and overview of chemistry in sport

    • Understanding polymers

      An introduction to polmers.

    • The role of polymers in sport

      In this section, we begin to understand the importance of polymers in the manufacture of sports equipment and how advances in polymer development moulded the equipment seen on modern sports fields.

    • Sports medicine and nutrition

      An introduction to sports medicine and nutrition

    • End of week test and concluding thoughts

      The week four test

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify a range of natural and synthetic attractants
  • Discuss current theories that help to explain how chemical structure is related to smell
  • Describe the mode of action of antibiotics and understand bacterial resistance
  • Describe promising new areas of research to design smarter drugs
  • Engage with the process of brewing, and identify key flavouring compounds
  • Discuss the role of modern analytical methods

Who is the course for?

The course is designed for anyone with an interest in chemistry (a GCSE level of science is recommended), but will be particularly useful for sixth formers to aid the transition to study science at university.

You can use the course to support your UCAS personal statement and prepare for university study by broadening your chemistry knowledge and developing your independent learning skills.

Who will you learn with?

Andy Parsons is a Professor of Organic Chemistry at York. His teaching has been recognised by a Royal Society of Chemistry Teaching Award; he is a Senior Fellow of the HEA & a National Teaching Fellow

Who developed the course?

University of York

The University of York combines the pursuit of academic excellence with a culture of inclusion, which encourages everyone – from a variety of backgrounds – to achieve their best.

Ways to learn

Buy this course

Subscribe & save

Limited access

Choose the best way to learn for you!

$69/one-off payment

$27.99

/month

Automatically renews

Free

Fulfill your current learning needDevelop skills to further your careerSample the course materials
Access to this courseticktick

Access expires 6 Jan 2023

Access to 1,000+ coursescrosstickcross
Learn at your own paceticktickcross
Discuss your learning in commentstickticktick
Tests to check your learningticktickcross
Certificate when you're eligiblePrinted and digitalDigital onlycross
Continue & Upgrade

Cancel for free anytime

Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save

$27.99 /month

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$69/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access

Free

Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 6 Jan 2023

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLchemistry to talk about this course on social media.