Core Organic B (Distance Learning)

Unit code: CHEM31411
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 3
Teaching period(s): Semester 1
Offered by School of Chemistry
Available as a free choice unit?: N




The expansion and exercise of the student’s knowledge of the fundamentals of organic chemistry


Designing Organic Syntheses: The Chemistry of Bifunctional Organic Compounds: (Dr A C Regan, 8 lectures)

  • Enolate formation, alkylation and aldol reactions
  • Synthesis of 1,3-dicarbonyl compounds (Claisen and Dieckmann condensations) - enolization, alkylation, decarboxylation
  • Use of malonate and acetoacetate in organic synthesis – comparison with the chemistry of simple enolates
  • Preparation, properties and use of α,β-unsaturated carbonyl compounds in synthesis (Michael and Robinson reactions)
  • Disconnections of target molecules containing two functional groups – 1,3-difunctionals, α,β -unsaturated carbonyl and 1,5-difunctional compounds. These will be discussed throughout the above topics, where appropriate
  • Disconnections of 1,2- 1,4- and 1,6-difunctional compounds

Modern Physical Organic Chemistry: (Dr S J Webb, 8 lectures)

  • The relationship between free energy change, equilibrium constant and reactivity
  • The physical concepts necessary for the design of experiments to test or establish a reaction mechanism, and the application of physical methods to mechanistic problems
  • The effects of structural variation and change of reaction conditions on organic reactivity
  • Types of supramolecular interactions and their relative strengths
  • Some applications of supramolecular chemistry

Heterocycle Synthesis: (Dr J M Gardiner, 8 lectures)

  • Main classes of heterocyclic compounds
  • Retrosynthetic analysis of heterocyclic targets
  • Synthetic methods for synthesis of 5-membered and 6-membered ring aromatic heterocycles (pyrroles, furans, indoles), illustrating classical applications using condensation reactions, (amine-carbonyl, 1,3-,1,4 and 1.5-dicarbonyls, other active methylenes) and Michael reactions (using a range of different nucleophile types).
  • Illustrative examples using Diels-Alder and sigmatropic rearrangements (e.g. Fischer indole synthesis)


Teaching and learning methods

 This distance learning version of CHEM30412 is supported by online materials which students are invited to work through in their own time. Tutorial problem sheets will be made available for each section of the course, to aid learning and understanding.

Learning outcomes

 Students successfully completing this unit should:

  • Main classes of 5- and 6-membered heterocyclic compounds containing one heteratom
  • Importance of heterocycles (eg drugs, natural products, materials) will be highlighted throughout.
  • Retrosynthetic analysis of heterocyclic targets – each class and reaction type
  • Have an understanding of the chemistry of bifunctional organic compounds, and how they can be used in synthesis
  • Have an appreciation of how the mechanisms of organic reactions are described and determined
  • Have an appreciation of how mechanism are used in other branches of organic chemistry
  • Understand classical strategies for heterocyclic synthesis and devise and explain syntheses of aromatic heterocycles
  • Have an appreciation of mechanisms of heterocyclic syntheses

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Numeracy and mathematical skills
  • Investigative skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Time management and organisational skills

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 100%

Recommended reading


  1. Organic Chemistry J Clayden, N Greeves, S Warren and P Wothers (Oxford University Press, 2001) ISBN 0198503466
  2. Organic Synthesis: the Disconnection Approach, S Warren and P Wyatt, 2nd edition, Wiley, 2008. ISBN 9780470712368
  3. The Physical Basis of Organic Chemistry. H. Maskill, OUP, 1985. ISBN 9780198551997
  4. Modern Physical Organic Chemistry E V Anslyn and D A Dougherty (University Science Books, 2006) ISBN 9781891389319
  5. Supramolecular Chemistry J W Steed and J L Atwood (Wiley, 2000) ISBN 0471987918
  6. Supramolecular Chemistry, P Beer, P Gale and D K Smith, OUP, 1999. ISBN 9780198504474
  7. Heterocyclic Chemistry, J A Joule, K Mills, Blackwell, 2010. ISBN 978-0632054534
  8. Aromatic Heterocyclic Chemistry, S G Davies, OUP, 1992. ISBN 978-0198556602

Feedback methods

 Each student will be assigned an organic tutor and are invited to submit tutorial work for feedback.  In addition individual lecturing staff are available to answer queries.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam - 2 hours
  • Independent study hours - 98 hours

Teaching staff

Jorge Bures Amat - Unit coordinator

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