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 CHEM231
Coordinator Dr RP Bonar-Law
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2018-19 Level 5 FHEQ First Semester 15

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

Completion of year 1 of either an MChem or a BSc (Hons) Chemistry programme.  


The aim of this module is to introduce important carbon-carbon bond forming reactions within a mechanistic and synthetic framework, together with exposure to a selection of stereochemical issues.

Learning Outcomes

Students should be able to solve problems featuring:

Scope and mechanisms of basic reactions (nucleophilic and electrophilic substitutions, addition and elimination reactions)

Basic carbonyl chemistry (alkylation, acylation, aldol, conjugate additions).

Structure, reactivity and synthesis of simple heterocycles (including pyridines, pyrroles, furans)

Functional group interconversions and stereochemistry.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Lecture -

Tutorial -




Chapter(s) in "Organic Chemistry" Clayden et al

Carbanion chemistry (10 lectures)


Acids, bases, enolate anions and other stabilised carbanions.

pKas of common acids. Choosing a base for carbon acids. Reversible and irreversible formation of enolates.

Ch 8,21

Alkylation of enolate ions and other carbanions.

Definition, alkylating agents. Direct alkylation with LDA. Alkylation of 1,3-dicarbonyls, hydrolysis and decarboxylation. Use of enamines and silyl enol ethers. 

Ch 26

Acylation of carbanions.

Definition, acylating agents. Acylation of ketones with formate and carbonate esters. Acylation of esters with esters, Claisen condensation and Dieckmann cyclisation. Acylation of enamines and possibly silyl enol ethers. Acylation using LDA.

Ch 28

Reactions of enolates with aldehydes and ketones: Aldol and related reactions.

Self-aldol reactions, equilibria with aldehydes and keto nes. Mixed aldols. Mixed aldols with 1,3-dicarbonyls, Knoevenagel reaction. Intramolecular aldol. Lithium and zinc enolates in aldol reactions, Reformatsky reaction.

Ch 27

Alkenes: the Wittig reaction and related methods

Wittig mechanism, stabilised and unstabilised ylids, stereochemistry. Horner-Wadsworth-Emmons reaction. Alkenes by dehydration of alcohols

Ch 31

Conjugate additions (3 lectures)


Conjugate addition reactions of activated alkenes. Selectivity of a ddition of organometallics and use of organocuprates.

Ch 10, 23

Sequential reactions (Robinson annelation and dimedone synthesis) as routes to 6-membered rings.

Ch 29

Chemoselectivity (2 lectures)

Synthetically useful reductions including metal hydride reagents, catalytic hydrogenation, and deoxygenation of carbonyl groups.

Ch 24 

Synthetical ly useful oxidations including chromium (VI) based reagents, Swern and other DMSO systems, Baeyer-Villiger and other per-acid oxidations.

Ch 24 

Introduction to aromatic heterocyclic chemistry (9 lectures)


Introduction to aromatic heterocyclic chemistry. Electrophilic aromatic substitution of hydrogen. Nucleophilic aromatic substitution of hydrogen, Chichibabin reaction. Nucleophilic additions.

Ch 43

Substituted pyridines

Nucleophilic aromatic substitution of halopyridines. Reactivity of methylpyridines. Hydroxypyridines and aminopyridines. Pyridine N-oxides. Diazines; nucleophilic and electrophilic substitutions.

Ch 43 

Quinolines, isoquinolines and diazines

Quinoline and isoquinoline as benzopyridines, electrophilic and addition reactions. 2. Diazines; nucleophilic and electrophilic substitutions.

Ch 43

Pyrrole and Indole 

Introduction to five-membered aromatic rings. pKas of pyrrole, electrophilic substitution, regiochemistry, Vilsmeier-Haack and other reactions. Indole as benzopyrrole, electrophilic substitution, regiochemistry, Mannich reaction.

Ch 43

Furans and thiophenes

Furans; electrophilic and addition reactions, lithiation, other reactions. Thiophenes, reactions, desulfurisation.

Ch 43

Synthesis of five and six membered aromatic heterocycles

Introduction 1. Pyridines; summary of approaches, mechanism of Hantzsch synthesis, modifications, other methods. 2. Pyrimidines; common reagent combinations and mechanisms. 3. Pyrroles, furans, thiophenes; from 1,4-diketones, mechanism of Knorr pyrrole synthesis. 4. Imidazoles, pyrazoles and isoxazoles; from 1,3-dicarbonyls and hydrazine or hydroxylamine, 1,3-dipolar cycloadditions.

Ch 43

Stereochemistry and reactions (9 lectures)


Stereochemistry of compounds containing one stereogenic carbon centre including R and S. Stereochemistry of compounds containing more than one stereogenic carbon centre (enantiomers and diastereoisomers). Stereochemistry of chiral compounds not possessing a stereogenic centre (allenes, biphenyls).

Ch 16

Nucleophilic substitution at saturated carbon, SN2 - mechanism, kinetics (includin g revision of basic concepts), stereochemistry, nucleophile, leaving group, structure of substrate, solvent. Synthetic applications.


Nucleophilic substitution at saturated carbon, SN1- mechanism, kinetics, structure of substrate, solvent, nucleophile, leaving group, stereochemistry and ion pairs. Synthetic applications.


Elimination reactions - mechanism and stereoselectivity. E1, E2, E1cB Stereospecific and regioselective E2 elininations

Ch 19

Electrophilic addition to alkenes - stereo- a nd regioselectivity. Bromination, epoxidation, iodolactonisation. Synthetic applications.

Ch 20

Nucleophilic Substitution at Carbonyls.  Tetrahedral intermediates. Common mechanisms of ester hydrolysis, BAc2, AAc2.

Ch 12,13

Stereochemistry and face selectivity concerning reactions at sp2 hybridized carbon centres.

Ch 33, 34

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 33


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 112


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Written Exam  3 hours  first  80  August    Assessment 2 Notes (applying to all assessments) Continuous Assessment This work is not marked anonymously Written Examination  
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Coursework  11 weeks  first  20  no  Standard University Policy applies - see Department/School handbook for details.  Assessment 1