Module code: CHEM025

Module Overview

This advanced module builds on level 4-6 undergraduate material to introduce the up-to-date organic chemistry that is typically carried out at research level (both industrial and academic).  Organic chemistry research is dominated by synthesis and this is very much the leitmotif of this module, although the indispensible mechanistic aspects that underpin synthesis are as usual covered.  There is much emphasis on strategy and critical analysis of work that is at the forefront of the topic and the application of the knowledge to real-world examples.

On completion of the module the student will be equipped to begin a programme of research in organic chemistry.

Module provider


Module Leader

CUNNINGHAM Ian (Chemistry)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 116

Lecture Hours: 26

Tutorial Hours: 6

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

A knowledge of Organic Chemistry to FHEQ Level 5 and 6 

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Revision of organic reactions

  • Revision of mechanisms

  • Retrosynthetic Analysis: Terms, definitions and basic concepts.

  • Retrosynthetic Analysis: Aromatic compounds

  • Retrosynthetic Analysis: Alcohols and carbonyl compounds

  • Retrosynthetic Analysis: 1,2-, 1,3-, 1,4- and 1,5-dicarbonyl compounds; a,b-unsaturated and 1,3-dihydroxy compounds

  • Retrosynthetic Analysis: Carbocyclic and heterocyclic compounds

  • Polar reactions in synthesis

  • Radical reactions in synthesis

  • Pericyclic reactions in synthesis

  • Asymmetric synthesis – an introduction

  • Catalytic reactions in organic chemistry. Concept of catalysis. Mechanistic implications: creating a catalytic cycle.

  • Reactions using metal catalysis. Palladium-catalysed cross-coupling reactions: Heck, Sonogashira, Stille and Suzuki reactions.

  • Pauson-Khand reaction. Small organic molecules as catalysts. Baylis-Hillman reaction.

  • Olefin metathesis

  • Multi-component reactions

  • Solid-phase synthesis and combinatorial chemistry

  • Asymmetric Synthesis: Enantioselectivity: definitions and overview

  • Chiral reagents and auxiliaries in organic synthesis

  • Chiral catalysts in organic synthesis

The Sharpless asymmetric dihydroxylation reaction

  • Mini-project literature report and presentation (2 x 3 h). Students are given an important topic/synthesis and are required to write a short article on the importance of the topic to the field of organic chemistry, to present a lecture on the topic, AND to attend and participate in all presentations

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Report and Presentation 30
Examination EXAM 2 HOURS 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

·         Examination: Application of knowledge to problems in advanced organic chemistry [LOs 1, 2, 3]

·         Report and Presentation: Ability to critically analyse the latest discoveries (report and presentation CW) [LOs 4, 5]


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


·     Report and presentation (coursework): Current advances in Organic Chemistry (30%, 36 h over 8 weeks) [LOs 4, 5]

·     Examination: 2 hours, closed book (Week 14, 70%) [LOs assessed 1, 2, 3]


Formative assessment and feedback

Formative assessment and feedback are provided throughout the module in the form of in-class exercises, examples and worked problems as appropriate. Feedback is instant as model answers (full worked solutions) are given in class. Formative assessment is also evident through the provision of ‘checklists’ at the end of each section of the module that detail the areas covered in that part of the course.

Detailed and individualised feedback is given on the marked assignments within the time allowed for marking coursework.


Module aims

  • To provide students with the appropriate advanced material in organic chemistry in a way that allows them to solve unfamiliar problems in synthesis, and to apply critical analysis to new and existing knowledge

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of modern advanced organic reactions (including their scope), especially the more abstracts ones (chirality, combinatorial) K
2 Predict chemo-, regio- and stereo-selectivity in given reactions K
3 Critique and select from several viable synthetic approaches to target compounds KC
4 Discuss with critical analysis and report on current advances in organic chemistry KCT
5 Show originality in the approach to solving specific problems in synthesis KCPT
6 Reviewing, assessing, and critical thinking T
7 Report writing T
8 Presentation skills T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

give the student not just an advanced knowledge base, but the analytical and problem-solving skills appropriate to independent research in modern organic chemistry.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures (~2-3 per week x 11)

  • Problem-solving CW based on the lectures (18 h over 8 weeks)

  • Investigative self-study (assessed report) (18 h over 8 weeks)

  • General explanative, contemplative and summative self-study

  • Presentation (of report) and class discussion (6 h in 1 week)

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: CHEM025

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Chemistry MChem 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation MChem 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Medicinal Chemistry MChem 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.