Structure Visualisation for All and Anywhere: an e-learning resource

Posted in: Case Studies


Understanding the structure of a compound or material is central to the learning goals in many areas of science and engineering including chemistry, pharmacology, materials and chemical engineering, and biochemistry. But structures are three dimensional and conceptually difficult to understand through the normal two-dimensional learning formats of lectures, lecture notes, textbooks and whiteboards. This 2013-14 project provided access to software and extensive database resources to all undergraduate and postgraduate students, undertaking Chemistry and Natural Science degrees, to allow them to view and manipulate structures in three dimensions using departmental computer resources and their own laptops, computers, tablets and smartphones. The project will leverage the existing resources and skills of the applicants, derived from current published educational material, extending these significantly and placing the University of Bath learning provision at the international forefront. The eventual goal is to have the manipulation of structures by the student as a routine learning element wherever relevant within the University of Bath course structure - considerable aiding their understanding of the subject.

Project Team

Prof Mark Weller, Department of Chemistry:

Prof Andy Burrows, Department of Chemistry

3 x undergraduate students

Outcomes / Outputs

  1. The visualisation software are available to all staff students ( post graduate and undergraduate ) in Chemistry and some allied departments who share courses;
  2. An enormous library of around 2500 structures has been developed and is downloadable by students. This resource has been developed by current undergraduates to parallel current course content in collaboration with teaching staff in Chemistry;
  3. A number of undergraduate courses now the embedded the visualisation software and resources into (including two of the PI’s).

During the development of the visualization resource library all staff in Chemistry were fully consulted on their requirements and requests/needs; this process will continue and should ensure increasing uptake as new courses and course material are developed.

The project leader is currently in discussions with Oxford University Press and the software manufacturer regarding using some of the material as future web resources for textbooks

All resources are currently available from the Moodle site for the courses for which they were developed. Visualisations could easily be made available to all and any staff students in Bath or at any other University – or indeed anyone-  as they can be viewed using the free software Crystalviewer Some discussions have been had with the Library regarding this and also developing courses that link chemical and biochemical structure databases to the visualisation software.

Posted in: Case Studies