Module code: CHEM039

Module Overview

The module is designed to build upon knowledge from Inorganic modules at level 4, 5 and 6. This is achieved by introducing areas of inorganic chemistry that have not been addressed previously and by expanding towards the applications of topics that were previously introduced. The aim is to develop an advanced understanding of Organometallic chemistry and its applications in homogeneous catalysis, involving both d-block transition metals and main group elements.

Module provider

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Module Leader

TURNER Scott (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: 75

Lecture Hours: 30

Tutorial Hours: 5

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 30

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Introduction to bonding models relevant to organometallic chemistry including the basis and consequences of back-bonding, hapticity, 18 electron rule and its exceptions. Discussion in the context of a molecular orbital approach to bonding. Relating the bonding to the reactivity and compound stability.

Occurrence, reactivity, preparation and structures of transition metal carbonyls and clusters. Modes of coordination. Phosphine ligands and electronic and steric variability. The consequences and evidence for back-bonding in carbonyls, phosphines, alkenes, alkynes and other ligands with synergistic bonding.

Synthesis and structure of complexes containing alkene and alkyne, allyl and butadiene ligands. Carbene complexes. Metathesis reactions.

Structure, synthesis, reactivity and bonding in complexes of cyclopentadienyl and related Cn cyclic ligands. Discussion of fluxionality and NMR spectra.

Metal complexes as homogenous catalysts. Overview of basics, review of what catalysts are, separation of homo- and heterogeneous, selectivity (chemo, regio, stereo), activity, elementary steps in mechanisms, homolytic and heterolytic bond activation, catalytic cycles, ligand cooperation.


Metal complexes as homogeneous catalysts. Discussion of processes such as alkene isomerism, hydrogenation and hydroboration, oxidative addition, reductive elimination, hydroformylation, Tennesee-Eastmen acetic anhydride process, Fischer-Tropsch, Monsanto and Cativa process, coupling reactions.

Main group organometallics (group 1, 2, 13, 14), preparation and reactivity, low oxidation state chemistry of the p-block.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 20
Examination Online ONLINE OPEN BOOK 4 hour EXAM 80

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

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

  • A detailed understanding of the synthesis, structure, and bonding in organometallic compounds of both transition metals and main group elements.

  • A general understanding of the application of organometallic compounds to problems in homogeneous catalysis.

  • An understanding of modern approaches to homogeneous catalysis

This is achieved through a coursework question set / research paper analysis and open book examination that pose advanced problem-based questions, often stemming from issues in the research literature. This provides an opportunity to use fundamental and advanced knowledge to critically address problems in a authentic way.

  Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Coursework, 20%, problems & research analysis (addresses learning outcomes 1 to 5)

Examination, 80%, online open book 4 hours (addresses learning outcomes 1 to 4)


  Formative assessment

The teaching methods include tutorials that are spaced throughout the semester and appear at the end of each major topic: introduction to organometallic chemistry, heterogeneous catalysis, carbonyl clusters, main group organometallics. These sessions are used to give the students practice at solving problems relating to the taught topics, of a similar nature to those found in the coursework and examination.  



The tutorial and revision sessions will be used to verbally feedback to the students on their approach to the problems discussed in these sessions. 

Module aims

  • To introduce the fundamental theory of structure and bonding in d-block and main group organometallic chemistry, including Hoffman¿s Nobel prize winning work on isolobal theory.
  • To illustrate the synthesis and reactivity of selected d-block and main group organometallic compounds
  • To investigate advanced topics in the application of organometallic d-block and main group compounds with a focus on homogeneous catalysis.
  • To outline specialized topics in homogenous catalysis such as metal-ligand cooperativity in main group complexes.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Be able to discuss the theory of metal-ligand bonding in transition metal and main group organometallic compounds for a variety of typical ligands. KC
002 Be able to discuss the synthesis and reactivity of a range of organometallic compounds KC
003 Have a detailed understanding of the use and mechanism of organometallic compounds as heterogeneous catalysts, and the construction of catalytic cycles. KCP
004 Be able to solve unseen problems related to the structure, bonding, synthesis and application of Organometallic compounds. KCPT
005 Be able to critically assess research literature in homogenous catalysis or organometallic research. KCPT

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:


  • Allow each student to expand on their knowledge from level 4,5 and 6 Inorganic modules to understand the connection between inorganic and organic chemistry through the topic of organometallic chemistry.

  • Provide the student with an insight into the application of organometallic chemistry in the industrially relevant area of homogeneous catalysis.

  • Improve a student’s understanding of the bonding, structure and reactivity of s, p and d-block compounds and to apply this knowledge to solve problems in synthesis and structure elucidation.

  • Allow student’s to show a critical approach to interpretive data

    The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures

  • Tutorials and directed learning

  • Revision classes

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: CHEM039

Other information

The School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:

One of the major topics in this module is the chemistry and mechanism of action of heterogeneous catalysts based on organometallic compounds. Understanding this topic will allow the student to see how the efficiency and energy consumption of chemical reactions can be improved: a major factor in approaches to Sustainability. This subject is a major area of Industrial research and activity, thus providing knowledge and skills directly relevant to Employability. Student’s will need to use specialist software, introduced at level 4, to construct answers to problems, which will maintain each student’s Digital Capabilities. Students will also be directed to use specialized web-pages that provide 3D views of molecules and focus on symmetry.

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.