Study Unit:    Units of Measurement in Science

Produced by Graham Currell, University of the West of England, Bristol and Rossana Wright, University of Nottingham, in association with:
Royal Society of Chemistry, 'Discover Maths for Chemists' website
, and

Essential Mathematics and Statistics for Science, 2nd Edition
   Graham Currell and Antony Dowman, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009

This is a draft version of a new Study Guide - any comments, corrections or suggestions welcome -


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This study unit aims to develop the skills for handling the units of measurement used in science.

This is achieved by a series of video tips and associated QVAs - questions with video worked answers.



Video Introduction
Download: ‘Units in Science’ (pdf file)


1. Using SI prefixes:  

QVAs - questions + video answers

Video Tip: If you need to end up with the power, 10x, as the required prefix, then multiply the 'unit' expression by 10-x×10x (which just equals 1)


2. Basic unit conversion:

QVAs - questions + video answers

Video Tip: Rearrange the conversion equation to get a value of 1.0 for the starting unit on the LHS of the conversion.


3. Handling ‘power’ units:

QVAs - questions + video answers

Video Tip: It is important to include the appropriate power of ten in the unit conversion.

Video Tip: Units with negative powers can be evaluated by putting the unit in the denominator of the expression.


4. Conversion of combined units:

QVAs - questions + video answers

Video Tip: Perform combined conversions one step at a time.


5. Using ‘units’ to understand equations: 

QVAs - questions + video answers

Video Tip: Use the fact that the units on both sides of an equation must have the same base units.


6. Examples of using units in science: 

QVAs - questions + video answers - pV = nRT




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