Posted by Stuart

Part II year

The ‘Part II’ is a post-Finals year spent in a research group, producing a project which counts 25% towards the final Degree mark.

The Chemistry Course at Oxford is a 4-year one, with 3 years of lectures, tutorials and labs. The 4th year is then spent working in a research group, under the guidance of a Supervisor (normally a University Lecturer), on an 8 month project. This typically entails 6 months of research work, and 2 months of write-up, and is meant to reflect what life is like as a postgraduate student, which is where a significant number of Oxford chemists end up – like me (I subsequently did my DPhil in the same Group)!

I spent the 2001/2002 academic year working for Prof. P.J. Hore in the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory. My project was a theoretical one, writing computer code to calculate how small magnetic fields – up to 100x the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field – affected the yields of chemical reactions.

My program built on work done previously, but had a significant speed and power advantage over those written before. For the first time, it allowed chemically realistic systems (with many contributing atoms) to be investigated, and produced some results in very good agreement with previously obtained data. It also showed that a new model of radical recombination kinetics was required to fully explain the system.

You can learn more about the University of Oxford Chemistry Department here.