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Nathan Owston


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Personal profile


Nathan Owston completed his undergraduate studies (including a year at GlaxoSmithKline) at Cardiff University before moving to the University of Bath to undertake a PhD with Professor Jonathan M. J. Williams. He then moved to the United States as a Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT in the group of Professor Gregory C. Fu working on the development of asymmetric cross-coupling reactions of alkyl electrophiles, before returning to the UK to take up a position as a Research Associate at the University of Oxford.

He was appointed Lecturer in Chemistry at Newcastle University in 2012, prior to moving to the University of Bristol to complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Science). Subsequently, he relocated to the Netherlands to take up a position as Lecturer in Chemistry at Maastricht University before returning to the UK as Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of Manchester in 2015. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2020.

Nathan’s research interests include curriculum design and development (primarily focussing on peer learning, small group learning environments and assessment) and problem solving in mechanistic organic chemistry (at school, undergraduate and postgraduate taught level). As time permits, he also maintains a modest research interest in the development of selective oxidation and carbon-carbon bond forming reactions as applied to terpene natural products. 


Nathan is the Assessment Lead and the ACD Lead for the Department of Chemistry, responsible for overseeing all aspects of assessment, progression and awards in the department for both the undergraduate and postgraduate taught programs.

Research interests

Current and past research projects have included work in the following thematic areas:

  • Peer-assisted study schemes in the physical sciences
  • Problem-solving approaches in organic chemistry and common misconceptions
  • Approaches to the teaching of reaction mechanisms at A Level in England
  • Provision of tutorial support in organic chemistry for international postgraduate students
  • Selective oxidation of terpene natural products (undergraduate research projects)

Units taught

Year 1

CHEM10101 Introductory Chemistry (Module Convener)

Year 2

CHEM22600 Practical Chemistry (Module Convener)

CHEM20412 Structure and Reactivity of Organic Molecules (Module Convener)

Year 3

CHEM30411/31411 Core Chemistry 1: i) Stereoselective Synthesis; ii) Pericyclic Reactions (Module Convener)

CHEM30620 Advanced Practical Training

Year 4

CHEM41600 Chemistry Project (Educational Research)

MSc Chemistry (PGT)

CHEM60101 Core 1 (Module Convener)

CHEM61022 Dissertation


Nathan is the department curriculum lead for organic chemistry and for small group teaching and learning. His teaching responsibilities include delivery of core courses in organic chemistry (years 1-3 & PG), convenership of the synthetic teaching laboratories and supervison of research projects in both the UG and PG programmes.


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