Module code: CHEM036

Module Overview

Organic chemistry research is dominated by synthesis and this is very much the underlying concept of this module, although the indispensable mechanistic aspects that underpin synthesis are prominent. 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. 

Module provider

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Module Leader

MULHOLLAND Dulcie (Chst Chm Eng)

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: 98

Lecture Hours: 23

Practical/Performance Hours: 3

Guided Learning: 3

Captured Content: 23

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


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¿ α,β-unsaturated and 1,3-dihydroxy compounds; retrosynthetic analysis: carbocyclic and heterocyclic compounds

• Modern reactions: 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

• Multicomponent reactions: Solid-phase synthesis and combinatorial chemistry

• Asymmetric Synthesis: enantioselectivity: definitions and overview, chiral induction, chiral reagents and auxiliaries in organic synthesis, chiral catalysts in organic synthesis, the Sharpless asymmetric dihydroxylation reaction

Literature report and presentation. Students are given an important synthesis paper and are required to write a short article explaining the underlying chemistry and the strategic aspects; they also present a short lecture on the topic, AND are required to attend and participate in all presentations

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation COURSEWORK Presentation (13%) and Presentation (7%) on provided publication 20
Examination Online ONLINE OPEN BOOK EXAM 4 hour on-line 80

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate assimilation of knowledge and its application to problems in modern organic chemistry (addresses learning outcomes LOs 1-6) 

 Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of: 

• Coursework: 20%, Students are provided with a publication from Current Advances in Organic Chemistry and submit a Report (13%) (addresses learning outcomes LOs 4, 6) and a Presentation (7%,)  on the paper (assesses learning outcomes LOs 4, 6.) 
• Examination: 80%, 4 hour, On-line (addresses learning outcomes LOs 1, 2, 3, 5) 

 Formative assessment 

Formative assessment is in the form of in-class exercises, practice problems, on-line (SurreyLearn) tutorials, worked examples and worked problems. 


Feedback is provided optionally on the formative practice problems, exercises and tutorials. Coursework is marked and returned with feedback in time for the revision period. Limited formative feedback is provided on request for the report.

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
  • To equip the student to undertake a programme of research in organic chemistry.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of modern advanced organic reactions (including their scope), especially the more abstracts aspects (chirality, combinatorial) K L01
002 Predict chemo-, regio- and stereo-selectivity in given reactions KC L02
003 Be able to critique and select from several viable synthetic approaches to target compounds KC L03
004 To have the skills to discuss with critical analysis and report on literature advances in organic chemistry KCT L04
005 To be able to show originality in the approach to solving specific problems in synthesis KCPT L05
006 To review, assess and demonstrate critical thinking, and develop report writing and presentation skills T L06

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 weeks). Lectures 20, plus two revision lectures = 22 L 

• Investigative self-study (assessed report and preparation for presentation) (18 h over 8 weeks)

• General independent self-study

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: CHEM036

Other information

This module builds on fundamental concepts introduced to students in Level 4 (CHE1041 Organic Structure, Reactivity and Functional Groups) and Level 5 (CHE 2044 Organic carbon-carbon bond formation and Heterocyclic Chemistry) organic chemistry courses. 


Each student will gain an awareness of Sustainability concepts through discussions on toxicity and environmental responsibility in organic synthesis (green synthesis) and atom efficient synthesis. Digital Capabilities are covered by finding synthetic routes on-line. The chemical industry is global, affected by supply of raw materials and world prices, hence the course encompasses Global and Cultural Capabilities. Resourcefulness and Resilience which is built up by the problem solving approach in the course. 

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

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 2023/4 academic year.