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Module FXX-3510:
Core Organic Chemical Concepts

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Patrick Murphy

Overall aims and purpose

This module is comprised of two sections covering advanced aspects of organic chemistry and synthesis, biosynthesis and natural product synthesis.

The aims of the module are that students will develop an deeper understanding on the following topics:

Biosynthesis (Dr P Murphy, 12 Lectures) polyketides and fatty acids, terpenes, alkaloids, and shikimate metabolites. The use of Isotopic labelling in structure determination. Biomimetic synthesis. The mode of action of co-factors. Mixed metabolites.

Pericyclic reactions, cycloadditions will be discussed and some new oxidation and reduction reactions introduced and some old ones revised (Martina Lahmann 12 Lectures).

Course content

Organic chemistry inspired by Nature During this unit examples of natural product synthesis will be discussed and compared with the chemistry in biological systems. Some fundamental organic reactions will be revisited and related to the biological pathways.

Organic chemistry and synthesis This section details some principal organic aspects. The characteristics of reactions, with emphasis on cyclization reactions, will be discussed in terms of the Frontier Orbital Theory. Oxidation and reduction are also discussed in the context of synthesis

Course Team: Dr Martina Lahmann (12 lectures), Dr P Murphy (12 lectures)

RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS ESSENTIAL READING 1. Organic Chemistry, Jonathan Clayden, Nick Greeves, Stuart Warren and Peter Wothers (2nd Ed 2012)

RECOMMENDED READING 1. March's Advanced Organic Chemistry Reactions, Mechanisms and Structure, M B Smith and J. March (McGraw-Hill 2001) 2. Molecular Orbitals and Organic Chemical Reactions: by Ian Fleming. Student Edition Paperback 2009 Publisher Wiley-Blackwell 3. Chemical Aspects of Biosynthesis (Oxford Chemistry Primers) by John Mann (Author) 4. Secondary Metabolism Second Edition (OUP) J. Mann

Please refer to the Blackboard page and module overview provided during Dr M Lahmann's lecture course.

Assessment Criteria


Excellent (>70%). Knowledge base is extensive and extends well beyond the work covered in the programme. Conceptual understanding is outstanding. Problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature are solved with efficiency and accuracy; problem-solving procedures are adjusted to the nature of the problem. Performance in transferable skills is generally very good.


Threshold (40%). Knowledge and understanding of the content covered in the course is basic; Problems of a routine nature are generally adequately solved; Transferable skills are at a basic level.


Good (~60%). Knowledge base covers all essential aspects of subject matter dealt with in the programme and shows good evidence of enquiry beyond this. Conceptual understanding is good. Problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature are solved in a logical manner; solutions are generally correct and acceptable. Performance in transferable skills is sound and shows no significant deficiencies.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students should be able to recognise oxidising and reducing agents and understand their use in synthesis.

  2. On completion of the course student should be aware of the major metabolic pathways and how secondary metabolites arise from these routes

  3. Students should be able to analyse and understand complex organic reactions schemes.

  4. On completion of the course the student will have an understanding of biomimetic synthesis.

  5. On completion of the module, students will be able to: to know the principle primary and secondary metabolites and their relation to the major classes of natural products.

  6. Students should be able to analyse and understand pericyclic reactions.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Examination 100

Teaching and Learning Strategy


The module has 22 one hour lectures scheduled at 2 lectures per week.

Tutorial 4
Private study 76

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • CC4 The ability to recognise and analyse problems and plan strategies for their solution
  • PS3 Problem-solving skills, relating to qualitative and quantitative information
  • SK2 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of fundamental physicochemical principles with the ability to apply that knowledge to the solution of theoretical and practical problems
  • SK3 Gain knowledge of a range of inorganic and organic materials
  • PS16 The ability to work in multi-disciplinary and multi-skilled teams
  • SK4 Demonstrate, with supporting evidence, their understanding of synthesis, including related isolation, purification and characterisation techniques
  • SK9 Read and engage with scientific literature
  • SK21. Application of advancedstudies to thesolution ofproblems.
  • CC1 the ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of essential facts,concepts,principles and theories relating to theSubject areasCovered in theirProgramme
  • CC2 the ability to applysuch knowledge and understanding to thesolution of qualitative and quantitativeProblems that are mostly of a familiar nature

Courses including this module