Skip to content The Open University

Student and tutor module reviews

Molecules, medicines and drugs: a chemical story

see module description

  • Points: 10
  • Code: SK185
  • Level: 1
On this page

Student reviews

This is an interesting but rather full-on chemistry module. The workload is about right for a 10-credit course.
If you have completed Chemistry A Level or similar this course won't be a problem. The chapters on drug development are interesting and well written.
All the course materials are online there are no books.
I enjoyed this course and have gained more understanding of medicines and their development.

Course starting: April 2015

Review posted: March 2016

Parts of this course were amazing and so interesting. All of the materials are on the course website and it was very easy to follow them. There was a LOT more molecules and chemistry on this course than expected and that was complicated! The sections on drug development and how different medicines work, were brilliant!
Do this course if you like chemistry or think you can bare that for the really good bits.

Nicolette Hughes

Course starting: April 2014

Review posted: November 2014

I loved this course from start to finish. I found it was well written and engaging and the TMA was suitably challenging. I think it did help that I do have a chemistry background but the chemistry in it isn't too hard so don't be put off!

Liana Kohli

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: July 2013

This was a thoroughly worthwhile investment of time. I'm doing a Natural Sciences degree and this module covered a lot of basic organic chemistry that has popped up time and time again in my other modules. I am so glad that I did it. I love my stick and ball kit which makes the chemistry so much more real and accessible. I wish there was a Level 2 module that followed straight on from it.

Sheilagh Margaret Rawlins

Course starting: November 2011

Review posted: December 2012

Faculty response

PLEASE NOTE: This review and all previous reviews relate to the first edition of this module.

The second edition, which started in April 2013, has very similar content and level but the material is all presented online and there is no book or model kit.

Science Faculty

I found the content of the material very enjoyable and interesting. I was able to use it immediately in my job and that was fantastic. Sometimes the materials jump from one topic to another a little bit but this encourages you to read some external content or ask the other students to understand the jump. The molecular module kit was really fun and helped a lot to understand the structure of the molecules!

Unfortunately you easily feel alone in the course, because you have no tutor and no tutor group forum. All questions asked to the Study Advisers are secrets and can be seen by the original author and the advisers only. In that way you cannot see were the others have problems. Naturally most of the people don't post their problem also in the student forum, so this was rather quiet and only a little group of students was active there.

This effect was intensified because you can really study at your own pace. All students were at different points in the book at the same time. I had the impression that was a barrier for lively discussions. But the positive thing is exactly this - that you can study at your own pace. You can do the short track or the long track or something in the middle - it's totally up to you. That was great as I needed a 3 week study break during the course and had no reason to be afraid of getting behind.

Claudia Lenk

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: December 2012

Enjoyed this course very much even though I have never studied chemistry and I passed!
This was my first module of six for C70.
This gave me some understanding of what must be achieved in the scientific world when searching for cures in medicines. Definitely opened my eyes.

Jill Coldrick Chappell

Course starting: July 2012

Review posted: November 2012

I thought this was a superb course and thoroughly enjoyed it. I like organic chemistry and its applications to the design and action of drugs and medicines, and I was fascinated by all of the material on this and the introduction to bacteria and viruses and how they can be chemically attacked or controlled. Great stuff for chemists, biologists and health professionals alike.

Thomas John Davies

Course starting: February 2011

Review posted: June 2012

I really enjoyed this course. The material is fantastic, although, having no base of chemistry at all (as I come from a humanities background) I struggled a bit understanding some of the chapters. I wish it would have been more comprehensive, specially explaining basic concepts that somehow the books assume you already have.

I would recommend this course if you have a background in science, or remember a lot from your school days. But definitely not for a first course.

However, don't be put off by this. The course itself is fascinating, and even though I struggled with certain bits of it, I was still captured by its contents and enjoyed very much reading and working through it.

Carolina Del Mar Uribe Reverte

Course starting: November 2011

Review posted: May 2012

I loved this fascinating course. I am a chemistry novice having failed to understand it when I studied at school so I was delighted to pass, and with better feedback than I expected. Initially, I found the course very tough and despaired of ever understanding the concepts being introduced in the course book. But I stuck with it and it all made sense in the end. I have done a few OU courses of differing subjects and levels but this has been my favourite so far.

Jill Elizabeth Logan

Course starting: January 2012

Review posted: March 2012

This was an enjoyable but definitely not an easy Level 1 course. Highly beneficial to complete before starting S205.

Course starting: September 2011

Review posted: January 2012

I found this course a massive challenge, as it was my first OU module and I wasn't properly prepared for the amount of chemistry. I did, however, manage a pass after giving it a bit of extra work! I didn't much like the coursebook and found myself doing a bit of independent research in order to fully comprehend some of the concepts.

I got there in the end though, and I do think this was an intersting module. It has certainly served me well when it comes to the concepts in later courses I have undertaken.

Keira Blewett

Course starting: February 2011

Review posted: November 2011

I really enjoyed this unit. The model kit they send you is excellent and really helps with visualising the drugs you're learning about, it's still useful now as a visual aid, long after the course has finished. It's quite challenging if you remember almost nothing from chemistry lessons at school (I speak from personal experience), but it made the subject much more interesting than it had ever been at school, and has made me more interested in science now - I'm more inclined to pick units with a science element as a result. The work load was just right. I definitely recommend this course for anyone with an interest in the subject and a beginner's knowledge of chemistry.

Course starting: September 2010

Review posted: October 2011

I actually studied this course because it was recommended for anyone wanting to do S187 who wasn't quite up to speed with the science, but having studied the two alongside each other this was by far and away my favourite of the two.

The molecule kit really helped me visualise what happens when you get a double instead of a single bond within a molecule, and the example where you place a model of a molecule over a pattern of bonding sites made it clear how and why some drugs act better than others to inhibit processes in the body.

Most of the basic principles are taught using the example of aspirin, and this provided an insight into the way drugs are generally developed, starting with something that people have known for thousands of years (boiling willow bark gives a drink which can ease the pain of childbirth), through extracting, refining and examining the components, to coming up with something with similar effects but without the side-effects.

All in all, I thought the course had been designed very thoughtfully to provide just the right level of information for an L1 course - I felt stretched, but when I did a Google search to find out a bit more about areas that interested me, I backed off fairly hastily as I realised how complicated things could quickly become. It did however inspire me to take my studies in this area further.

Course starting: May 2011

Review posted: October 2011

I loved studying this module; it was perhaps my favourite out of all the five short courses I've done so far. The course is fast paced and I found the subject matter fascinating. The molecular modelling set is also well used (when I first signed up for the course I thought it was probably a bit of a gimmick, but in reality I found it invaluable when covering topics like chirality), although the models are extremely stiff at first and may be difficult for those with a lack of strength or dexterity.

It is, however, much more challenging than all the other short courses I've completed and many on the same presentation as me found it quite a struggle. So one should bear this in mind when considering taking this module. In my opinion, those who are aiming only to gain an easy 10 credits towards their qualification would be better placed choosing a different short course. Also, although a scientific background is not essential, it is helpful to have some background in chemistry at least to a GCSE level, since the basics are covered only quite briefly. I have a GCSE in chemistry from a few years back, and was already familiar with the basic core principles of chemistry, but if you're a complete newcomer to the subject you'll need to be quick learner.

As for myself, I loved the challenge. I feel I made a lot of progress on this course. When I first had a flick through the materials I couldn't believe I'd ever manage to understand them, but as I methodically worked my way through things became clearer and clearer. As for the EMA, when I first looked at it, I couldn't even understand the questions, but when I'd finished the course I confidently completed it and managed to gain a really good result.

Course starting: May 2011

Review posted: September 2011

Having not studied science for nearly 20 years I wanted a short module to see whether I was interested in studying chemistry again.

This course perfectly met my requirements. It was by far the most challenging short module I've studied so far but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The level of chemistry was perfect for easing me back into the swing of things and the model kit really helped to visualise the structures in 3D.

The course book was well laid out and covered some quite topical subjects like the effects of Tamiflu on influenza.

In all I would recommend this course to anyone thinking of taking the chemistry route through the Natural Sciences degree.

Simon Millard

Course starting: September 2010

Review posted: July 2011

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

Enter a module code to find a review

To send us reviews on modules you have studied with us, please click the sign in button below.