Coordination Chemistry

Unit code: CHEM30311
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 3
Teaching period(s): Semester 1
Offered by School of Chemistry
Available as a free choice unit?: N





  • To show how ligand design and synthesis is vital in modern coordination chemistry
  • To introduce students to advanced concepts of structure, bonding and reaction mechanism in organometallic chemistry.
  • To provide an introduction to, and a general overview of, the chemistry and physical properties of the f-block elements.


Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry

(Dr. Heath wks 1-4)

Chelate and Macrocyclic ligands, classification and synthesis, metal template methods. Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Metal-Ligand Complex formation, the macrocyclic effect. Molecular recognition: cation, anion and neutral molecule binding; H-bonding, pi-pi stacking and hydrophobic effects. Supramolecular Chemistry. Metal-directed self-assembly, molecular grids, ladders and helices. Topological connectivity, Catenanes and Rotaxanes. Applications of Macrocyclic and Supramolecular chemistry.

Organometallic Chemistry

(Dr. Mills wks 5-8)

Revision of electron counting and the 18-electron rule and formal metal oxidation states; survey of organometallic ligands; metal-carbon multiple bonds; organometallic co-ligands (eg phosphines, hydride, dihydrogen); elementary reactions steps and simple mechanisms; overview of homogeneous catalysis; selection of catalytic cycles (eg hydrogenation, hydroformylation; alkene oligomerization and polymerization); alkene metathesis.

f-Block Chemistry

(Prof. Layfield wks 9-12)

Part 1, the lanthanides: context of lanthanide chemistry, overview of applications; atomic and electronic structure, 4f orbitals; oxidation states and chemical bonding, comparison with the s-block; selected chemistry; spectroscopy and magnetism.. Part 2, the actinides: occurrence of the actinides in Nature, man-made actinides; electronic structure, comparison of 5f and 4f orbitals; oxidation states, chemical bonding; selected chemistry, spectroscopy and magnetism.

Knowledge and understanding

Students should be able to:

  • Formulate synthetic strategies to target specific ligand types, and predict the properties of resultant coordination complexes and supramolecular species.
  • Understand the principles of organometallic chemistry which lead to applications in organic synthesis and catalysis.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental chemistry and physical properties of the 4f and 5f elements.

Intellectual skills

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of core topics in Inorganic Chemistry

Transferable skills and personal qualities


  • Problem-solving skills using qualitative and quantitative information
  • Analytical skills (understanding complex concepts and data interpretation)
  • Time management and organisational skills (ability to work independently and to work efficiently and effectively)

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 100%

Recommended reading


  • PD Beer, P.A. Gale, D.K. Smith, 'Supramolecular Chemistry', Oxford Chemistry Primers, No. 74.
  • M Bochmann, 'Organometallics 1', Oxford Chemistry Primers, No. 12.
  • M Bochmann, 'Organometallics 2', Oxford Chemistry Primers, No. 13.
  • C. Elschenbroich, 'Organometallics', 2nd or 3rd eds, VCH.
  • R. Crabtree, 'The Organometallic Chemistry of the Transition Metals', 3rd or 4th eds.
  • N. Kaltsoyannis and P. Scott, The f-elements, Oxford Chemistry Primers, No. 76
  • H. C. Aspinall, Chemistry of the f-block elements, CRC Press.

Feedback methods

  • There are three tutorials covering all aspects of the course: students receive feedback from their Inorganic Tutors.
  • Course workshops where students can attempt questions and receive instant feedback.
  • The three academics delivering the material are also available to see students.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam - 2 hours
  • Lectures - 20 hours
  • Practical classes & workshops - 4 hours
  • Tutorials - 3 hours
  • Independent study hours - 71 hours

Teaching staff

David Mills - Unit coordinator

▲ Up to the top