* Bristol ChemLabS Schools' Laboratory Programme

Y12/13 Drugs Synthesis Chemistry


Bristol ChemLabS is making available its recently refurbished undergraduate teaching laboratories to groups of school students to support regional Chemistry teachers. The laboratories are the best of their type in the UK and amongst the very best teaching laboratories in the world.

This means opportunities for your students to study at a world-class university with world class facilities outside of undergraduate term time as well as on Wednesdays throughout the year.

The Y12/13 Drugs Synthesis Chemistry is one of several workshop days involving practical work designed by the Bristol ChemLabS School Teacher Fellow to meet current GCSE level specifications and with practical scripts written in appropriate language.

Target Students

A maximum of 50 AS /A-Level chemistry students. The group may be made up of more than one school. We would also consider having groups of top ability Y11 students attend this workshop.


The number of teaching staff accompanying the student groups from each school should be what is considered appropriate by the local school rules, but there should be at least one teacher per group of up to 15 - 20 students.

It may be worth noting that several schools have reported that ‘A’ level chemistry uptake more than doubled where schools interacted with Bristol ChemLabS on a regular basis.

Outline of Visit





Arrival + Safety Briefing + introduction to practicals

Teaching Lab 5 or 6


Practical 1: Benzocaine Synthesis + Analysis (with 15 min break at 11:20 in West Foyer)

Teaching Lab 5 or 6


Lunch. Students to provide their own lunch



Practical 2: Aspirin Synthesis + Analysis





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Health and Safety

Extremely Important! Students and accompanying staff will be expected to follow the School of Chemistry's rules for visiting school scientists on health and safety in the laboratories as well as the specific health and safety requirements of the experiments.

This information MUST be made available to all pupils and accompanying adults.

This information MUST be made available to all pupils and accompanying adults.
Failure to observe these rules will result in no admittance to the laboratories for students or accompanying staff.

Click for full Bristol ChemLabS Health and Safety Rules

safety sign - no ballet shoes!

photo by riot_jane

The general rules include

Failure to observe safety rules including inappropriate clothing will result in no admission to the laboratories either for students or accompanying teachers.

Bristol ChemLabS has a more than sufficient supply of lab coats and safety glasses available for students and accompanying staff.  However, if students or staff wish to bring their own that is fine. Lab coats and safety glasses must be worn at all times in the laboratory. Failure to do so will result in no admittance to the laboratory or removal from it.

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Practical 1: Benzocaine Synthesis and Analysis

Techniques that may be met

Weighing to a tared round-bottomed flask, reflux, drying with anhydrous magnesium sulphate, distillation, wet analysis of functional group(s), TLC and melting points.

Practical 2: Aspirin Synthesis and Analysis

Techniques that may be met

Weighing to a tared round bottomed flask, use of a heating mantle, suction (Buchner) filtration, separating funnels and solvent extraction, vacuum distillation, melting point apparatus and infrared spectroscopy.


  1. Some techniques learnt in the morning session are used in the afternoon session thus reinforcing learning and building confidence.
  2. Infrared spectroscopy will be introduced to those students who have yet to meet this analytical method.

Experiment Details

Groups of 12 to 15 students will each have a postgraduate chemist as a demonstrator. All postgraduates (and technicians) are CRB checked through the Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAs) Programme. It is not often that school students will have the opportunity to work with young professional scientists at such close quarters.

The experiments use equipment and techniques that are not normally used at GCSE.

Tour of the School of Chemistry

This is not available on this occasion.


Drinks and biscuits are provided.

Students must provide their own lunch (to avoid complications due to dietary requirements).

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Please contact Sue Williams for details.

Careers Advice

We will endeavour to make chemistry careers literature available to every student who would like some. We obtain literature about careers in the chemical sciences from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

Students with Special Needs

The teacher in charge of the visit is expected to notify the School of Chemistry in sufficient time if there are students with special needs so that appropriate risk assessments can be carried out.


Photography of the day's activities is welcomed. Teaching staff have found that images taken in the laboratory make good copy for school websites and newsletters. Images may be taken by School of Chemistry staff for our own websites, articles and other publications. Each school is requested to complete the consent form found at: http://www.chemlabs.bris.ac.uk/Documents/PhotoConsentForm.pdf and return it to Steve Croker by post or fax.


Please contact chem-net@bristol.ac.uk for bookings and The School Teacher Fellow for any queries at t.g.harrison@bristol.ac.uk

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