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Department of Chemistry, Physics, and Geology

CHEM495: Senior Seminar in Chemistry

Instructor:       Dr. Jason C. Hurlbert
                          Office:  Sims 301B
                          Office hours:  MWF 11-12 and by appointment
                          Phone:  323-4928

Course Goals:

The scientific skills discussed in the course will be employed in the primary grading instrument for the course:  a review article discussing an area of chemistry selected by the student. Participating students will select an area of chemistry that they are interested in and then carefully research it. Students will also prepare a 7 page review article summarizing state of the science in their chosen area. The grading rubric for the paper is on the course website.

In order to help you as you research your topic, students should contact a faculty member that will serve as their “mentor” during the semester.  You should feel free to make appointments with your mentor and ask them questions about your topic.  You should not burden the faculty member with excessive questions, nor should you ask them to review your work. 

Finally, this class is also an opportunity for the Department to see how much you have learned and how far you have come as students since you initially began pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree.  Please do not be afraid to show how much you have learned and do not hesitate to point out things that you wish you had spent more time on during your undergraduate studies in chemistry.

Course Specifics:

The course meets Mondays in Sims 209 from 3:30 to 4:20PM.
There is no textbook for the class.

Grading for the Course

A) Chemical Topic Summary

Each student will identify a subject area of chemistry that they find interesting.  They will then thoroughly research that subject area during the semester.  This topic will be the basis for 4 graded assignments due throughout the course.

  1. During the final weeks of the semester, students will give a 10 minute oral presentation on their chosen subject area. This presentation will include a clear description of the background of the area, identification of a key journal article or articles in the area from the scientific literature, and explanation of key experiments. Grading rubrics for the presentation will be available on the course website. Each oral presentation will be recorded for analysis by departmental faculty.
  2. At the end of the semester, students will write a 7 page review article about their subject area. This article will be due on the last scheduled class meeting of the semester. Grading rubrics for the paper will be available on the course website.

Final Grade

Chemical Topic Assignment, Oral Presentation: 50 points
Chemical Topic Assignment, Written: 50 points

Your grade is not determined by your performance on each individual assignment, but on completion of each individual assignment.

Grading Scale:

A: >93% of the total points
A-: 90.0 - 92.9% of the total points
B+: 87 - 89.9% of the total points
B: 83 - 86% of the total points
B-: 80 - 82.9% of the total points
C+: 77 - 79.9% of the total points
C: 70 - 76.9% of the total points
D: 60 - 69.9% of the total points
F: <60% of the total points

No Late Assignments will be accepted without complete documentation from a physician, judge or member of law enforcement.  There are no excuses for late assignments, so please do not even try to make them.  If you do not manage your time properly and fail to complete an assignment by the time it is due, you will not receive any points for that assignment.  This policy will be strictly enforced.  The only acceptable excuses are illness, incarceration or judicial subpoena.  You have assignment schedules for all of your courses and it is up to you to determine how to prioritize your efforts.

Technology in the Classroom
No cellular phones may be used when class is meeting. Once class starts, all cellular telephones must be turned to silent mode for the duration of class. Should your cellular telephone ring while the class is meeting, you will be asked only once to silence it. A second violation of this policy will result in immediate removal from that class session. Anyone caught using these devices during class without prior permission will immediately be asked to leave the class. Anyone caught texting, using Facebook or other forms of social media during class will be immediately ejected from class. This policy is non-negotiable and will be enforced without exception.

Drop Policy:  As described in the Winthrop University Undergraduate catalog

Student code of conduct
As noted in the Student Conduct Code:  “Responsibility for good conduct rests with students as adult individuals.” The policy on student academic misconduct is outlined in the “Student Conduct Code Academic Misconduct Policy” in the online Student Handbook (

Students with Disabilities

Dr. Jason C. Hurlbert
301-B Sims Building
Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA
803/323-2246 (fax)