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CHEM1041 Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry I for non-chemists

Module Overview

Pre-requisite of A-Level Chemistry or the equivalent

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this course is to provide a core for future studies in chemistry and allied subjects, in aspects of Organic Chemistry as specified below Teaching in this course recognises the diversity of our intake in terms of A level syllabus followed and choice of non-Chemistry A level subjects (maths, physics, etc.). The aim of this organic chemistry course is to introduce students to many of the key concepts of structure and reactivity in organic chemistry: Structure – of molecules: functional groups, isomerism including stereochemistry and optical activity, nomenclature, introduction to infrared spectroscopy (functional groups); bonding (electronic structure, orbitals, hybridisation and shape); conformational analysis of linear and cyclic molecules. Reactivity – drawing and predicting resonance structures and reaction mechanisms by using curly arrows; understanding electron-rich and electron-deficient sites and species; acidity (alcohols, phenols, carboxylic acids, sulfonic acids, as well as halogen, nitrogen and carbon acids); basicity (conjugate bases of all classes of acids studied, and including such common bases as BuLi, LDA, NaH, hydroxide and alkoxides, amines); connections between electronic effects and acidity/basicity; aromaticity and introduction of the reactivity of aromatic compounds compared to alkenes; nucleophilic substitution at sp³ carbon (SN1 and SN2 mechanisms).

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Recognise and name a wide range of functional groups and interpret their IR spectra
  • Explain the connections between electronic effects and acidity/basicity
  • Explain the concept of aromaticity and identify both aromatic and non-aromatic molecules
  • Describe nucleophilic substitution reactions by both the SN1 and SN2 mechanisms
  • Explain the factors that influence SN1 and SN2 reaction rates, including the roles of steric effects, orbital effects and electronic effects.
  • Draw representations of the chemical structure of organic molecules using a concise notation.
  • Understand and use sawhorse and Newman projections, 3D structures of organic molecules including cyclic structures
  • Name a wide range of organic molecules, including stereochemistry
  • Describe the structure (including electronic configuration) of organic molecules in terms of orbitals, hybridisation and conformation, including stereoisomerism
  • Understand the relative stability of conformations of linear and cyclic organic molecules.
  • Identify electron-rich and electron-poor sites within molecules, by using the concepts of electronegativity, inductive effects and mesomeric (resonance) effects
  • Apply the curly arrow notation to describe both resonance and reaction mechanisms
  • Predict the relative acidity and basicity of organic molecules, and describe these properties with the concepts of pKa and pKaH


Structure – of molecules: functional groups, isomerism including optical activity, nomenclature, introduction to infrared spectroscopy (functional groups); bonding (orbitals, hybridisation and shape of organic species); conformational analysis. Reactivity – curly arrows, electron-rich and electron-deficient species, acidity (alcohols, phenols, carboxylic acids, and C—H acids); basicity (BuLi, LDA, hydroxide and alkoxides, amines); resonance; aromaticity and introduction of the reactivity of aromatic compounds compared to alkenes; nucleophilic substitution at sp³ carbon (SN1 and SN2 mechanisms).

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, problem-solving seminars with group working and tutor support Feedback is provided • In tutorials through assistance with the set work. • Through the marks achieved in the in online tests. • Through generic feedback following the examinations. • Upon request by viewing of marked examination scripts

Preparation for scheduled sessions24
Wider reading or practice17
Total study time75

Resources & Reading list

James Keeler and Peter Wothers (2008). Chemical Stucture and Reactivity. 

J Clayden, N Greeves and S Warren (2012). Organic Chemistry (2nd Edition). 

Andrew Burrows, John Holman, Andrew Parsons, Gwen Pilling, and Gareth Price (2009). Chemistry3: Introducing inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (1.5 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (1.5 hours) 100%
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