Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Catalysis
Code CHEM368
Coordinator Dr JA Iggo
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2021-22 Level 6 FHEQ Second Semester 15

Pre-requisites before taking this module (or general academic requirements):

CHEM214 Coordination and Organometallic Chemistry of the d-Block Metals 


The aim of this module is to give students a broad, interdisciplinary, background in catalysis across the traditional divides within chemistry.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) By the end of the module, students should:
* be able to speculate about possible reaction mechanisms given experimental observations.
* be able to recognize mechanistic parallels between chemical and biocatalytic processes.
* be aware of the most significant applications of organometallic catalysis be able to propose a likely mechanism for a new catalytic reaction and to propose experiments designed to confirm or refute their proposal.
* be able to evaluate the experimental evidence for and against a proposed mechanism for reaction that uses an organometallic catalyst.
* possess a realistic integrated understanding and knowledge of the basic principles of heterogeneous catalysis.
* be able to derive appropriate kinetic equations and models for catalytic reactions that may involve complicated reaction sequences.
* be aware of special effects which may influence selectivity when microporous solids are used as catalysts.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

New material in this module will be delivered in 30 asynchronous 50-minute lectures, with additional 6 formative tutorial workshops (synchronous online or F2F) used for feedback and revision.

Lectures in the three sections will be given in parallel so as to allow students adequate time to absorb new concepts. Each section will be supported by three problem sets. The problem sets will be based on material covered in the lectures and detailed solutions of the problems will be discussed in the feedback/revision slots. Students should expect to spend at least six hours per week in private study related to this module.



The module is divided into three components, as follows:

Organometallic Catalysis (Dr J A Iggo)
The Inorganic Chemistry section of the module will introduce students to the application of organometallic complexes of transition metals in catalysis. Particular emphasis is placed on the mechanistic aspects of the subject. The approach is via worked examples chosen both for the commercial significance of the reaction and to illustrate how the catalytic mechanism can be studied.

Organic and Bio-organic Catalysis (Dr R Bonar-Law)
This section introduces the principles of chemical and biological catalysis: transition state and intermediate; the Hammond postulate, rate-determining step, simple kinetic analysis. Types of catalysis: General and specific acid/base catalysis, electrophilic and nucleophilic catalysis, intra molecular catalysis and effective molarity. Isotope effects as a probe of mechanism.
These principles will provide the basis and understanding for a discussion of important enzyme-catalysed reactions in a series of case studies. The role of specific active site amino-acids and co-factors in catalytic mechanisms will be stressed; detailed knowledge of protein structure will not be required. Enzyme kinetics (Michaelis-Menten); types of enzyme inhibition. Hydrolytic enzymes: catalytic mechanism of a protease - chymotrypsin; synthetic applications of hydrolases. Catalysis by metal ions. Carbon-carbon bond forming enzymes, especially Class I aldolases; thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP). Functional group-transforming enzymes: pyridoxalphosphate (PLP)-case study. This section of the module provides a link between "conventional" chemistry and the chemistry of enzyme catalysis and shows students how the fundamental chemical mechanisms and principles are the same.
A 50:50 split between chemical and biological catalysis will be aimed for.

Heterogeneous Catalysis (Prof I Kozhevnikov)
This set of lectures aims to give an integrated description of the basic principles of heterogeneous catalysis, including the role of active sites on the solid surface and importance of adsorption phenomena in the determination of reaction kinetics, and uses different classes of catalysts and well-known catalytic processes as examples to apply these notions. Also examined are the importance of transport limitations (heat and mass transfer) in porous solid catalysts and molecular shape selectivity in zeolite catalysts. A general view is thus provided of major factors which determine the behaviour of heterogeneous catalysts, and their importance is illustrated through the discussion of case examples selected from important catalytic applications.

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours     3



Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 108


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
online time-controlled open book exam  3 hrs + 1hr for uplo    55       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
3 assessed extended problem sets Standard UoL penalties apply for late submission. There is no re-submission opportunity. These assignments are not marked anonymously.  3x1 hrs    45