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.
Code CHEM130
Coordinator Prof N Greeves
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2016-17 Level 4 FHEQ Whole Session 30

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

A2 level Chemistry or equivalent.  


The aim of this module is to ensure that students are aware of fundamental principles of organic chemistry, including nomenclature, structure and bonding, and the basic principles of static and dynamic stereochemistry. The major reactions associated with the common functional groups will be covered with emphasis on reaction mechanisms. In addition, this module will provide an introduction to the basic techniques associated with practical synthetic chemistry.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module students will know:

  • Structures and shapes of major classes of organic compounds
  • Principles of bonding in major classes of organic compounds
  • Basic principles of stereochemistry
  • Important reactions of a range of functional groups
  • An understanding of the major classes of reaction mechanisms
  • The basic techniques of synthetic chemistry (isolation, purification, identification, and design and work-up of reactions) and will have experience of characterisation using spectroscopic techniques and chemical methods.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Lecture -

Workshop -

Laboratory Work -



Organic structures

  • Why we use these particular diagrams
  • How organic chemists name molecules in writing and in speech
  • What is the skeleton of an organic molecule
  • What is a functional group
  • Some abbreviations used by all organic chemists
  • Drawing organic molecules realistically in an easily understood style

Structure of molecules ( to include simple sulfur and phosphorus compounds )

  • How we know that electrons have different energies
  • How electrons fit into atomic orbitals
  • How atomic orbitals combine to make molecular orbitals
  • Why organic molecules have linear, planar, or tetrahedral structures
  • Connection between shape and electronic structure
  • A true system of molecular orbital energies for simple molecules
  • Why such rigour is not possible for typical organic molecule
  • Predicting the locations of lone pairs and empty orbitals
  • Interaction between theory and experiment

Organic reactions

  • Why molecules generally don''t react with each other!
  • Why sometimes molecules do react with each other
  • In chemical reactions electrons move from full to empty orbitals
  • Molecular shape and structure determine reactivity
  • Representing the movement of electrons in reactions by curly arrows

Nucleophilic addition to the carbonyl group

  • How and why the C=O group reacts with nuclephiles
  • Explaining the reactivity of t he C=O group using molecular orbitals and curly arrows
  • What sorts of molecules can be made by reactions of C=O groups
  • How acid or base catalysts improve the reactivity of the C=O group

Declocalization and conjugation

  • Interaction between orbitals over many bonds
  • Stabilization by the sharing of electrons over molecules
  • Where colour comes from
  • Molecular shape and structure determine reactivity
  • Representing one aspect of structure by curly arrows
  • Structure of aromatic compounds

Acidity, basicity, and pKa

  • Why some molecules are acidic and others basic
  • Why some acids are strong and others weak
  • Why some bases a re strong and others weak
  • Estimating acidity and basicity using pH and pKa
  • Structure and equilibria in proton transfer reactions
  • Which protons in more complex molecules are more acidic
  • Which lone pairs in more complex molecules are more basis

Using organometallic reagents to make C-C bonds

  • Organometallics: nucleophilic and often strongly basic
  • Making organometallics from halocompounds
  • Making organometallics by deprotonating carbon atoms
  • Using organometallics to make new C-C bonds from C=O groups

Nucleophilic substitution at the carbonyl (C=O) group

  • Nucleophilic attack followed by loss of leaving group
  • What makes a good nucleophile
  • What make s a good leaving group
  • This is always a tetrahedral intermediate
  • How to make acid derivatives
  • Reactivity of acid derivatives
  • How to make ketones from acids
  • How to reduce acids to alcohols

Nucleophilic substitution at C=O with loss of carbonyl oxygen

  • Replacement of carbonyl oxygen
  • Acetal formation
  • Imine formation
  • Stable and unstable imines
  • Reductive amination


  • Three-dimensional shape of molecules
  • Molecules with mirror images
  • Molecules with symmetry
  • How to separate mirror-image molecules
  • Diastereoisomers
  • Shape and biological activity
  • How to draw stereochemistry

Nucleophilic substitution at saturated carbon

  • Nucleophilic attack on saturated carbon atoms, leading to substitution reactions
  • How substitution at a saturated carbon atom differs from substitution at C=O
  • Two mechanisms of nucleophilic substitution
  • Intermediates and transition states in substitution reactions
  • How substitution reactions affect stereochemistry
  • What sort of nucleophiles can substitute, and what sort of leaving groups can be substituted
  • The sorts of molecules that can be made by substitution


Conformational analysis

  • If I could see a molecule, what would its three-dimensional shape (conformation) be?
  • What effect does a molecule''s shape have on its reactions?
  • How single bonds are free to rotate, but spend most of their time in just two or three well-defined arrangements
  • How rings of atoms are usually not planar, but "puckered"
  • How "puckered" six-membered rings have the most well-defined arrangements of atoms
  • How to use the known arrangements of the atoms in a six-membered ring to predict and explain their reactions

Elimination reactions

  • Elimination reactions
  • What factors favour elimination over substitution
  • The two important mechanisms of elimination reactions
  • The importance of conformation in elimination reactions
  • How to use eliminations to make alkenes (and alkynes)

Electrophilic addition to alkenes

  • Reactions of simple, unconjugated alkenes with electrophiles
  • Converting C=C double bonds to other functional groups by electrophilic addition
  • How to predict which end of an unsymmetrical alkene reacts with the electrophile
  • Stereoselective and stereospecific reactions of alkenes
  • How to make alkyl halides, epoxides, alcohols, and ethers through electrophilic addition

Electrophilic aromatic substitution

  • Phenols as aromatic enols
  • Benzene and alkenes compared
  • Activation and deactivation
  • Position of substitution
  • Competition and co-operation
  • Problems with some reactions

Formation and reactions of enols and enolates

  • How carbonyl compounds exist in equilibrium with isomers called enols
  • How acid or base promotes the formation of enols and their conjugate bases, enolates
  • How enols and enolates have inherent mucleophilic reactivity
  • How this reactivity can be exploited to allow the introduction of functional groups next to carbonyl groups


The laboratory course will cover the basic techniques of preparative chemistry including:-

  • Recrystallisation from single and mixed solvents, filtration
  • Determination of m.p.,m.m.p. and use of I.R. for identification
  • Separation of acid/base/neutral compounds using eithe r extraction etc., use of rotary evaporator
  • TLC and GC for measure of purity and for following a reaction
  • Cheromatography
  • Distillation at atmospheric pressure
  • Chemoselective reductions of 3-nitroacetophenone
  • A simple oxidation reaction analysed by GC

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.
Explanation of Reading List:

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 50



Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 194


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Unseen Written Exam  3 hours  2nd  60  Yes    Written Examination Notes (applying to all assessments) Written Examination The written examination is a must-pass component, meaning students must achieve 40% in the written exam. If a student does not achieve 40%, then the module is failed, regardless of other component marks. 
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Coursework  20  both semesters  10  No reassessment opportunity  Standard UoL penalty applies  Workshops There is no reassessment opportunity,  
Coursework  both semesters  10  Yes    Class Tests 
Coursework  36  2nd  20  No reassessment opportunity  Standard UoL penalty applies  Laboratory Work There is no reassessment opportunity,