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Unit information: Advanced Organic & Biological Chemistry in 2020/21

Unit name Advanced Organic & Biological Chemistry
Unit code CHEM30011
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Chris Willis
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Chemistry
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit develops the organic chemistry given in CHEM20180 to expand that essential base into this more advanced level of study. The unit covers important areas of the subject e.g. using molecular orbitals to understand organic reactions, the value of main group elements in synthesis, selectivity in synthesis, medicinal chemistry and drug design and aspects of the synthesis and biosynthesis of natural products including saccharides. Workshops are integral to the unit.

This unit aims to provide a deepening understanding and widening knowledge of organic chemistry, which is appropriate for a BSc student and will enable progress to even more advanced aspects in a variety of areas of not only organic chemistry but also the interface with other disciplines (e.g. biology). The implications of these ideas are illustrated with real world examples to set them in context and highlight their relevance in the modern scientific world. The unit aims to explore key reactivity in new areas of chemistry including examples of biologically relevant compounds which build upon and broaden concepts introduced in the second year.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Understanding organic reactions using molecular orbitals.
  • An ability to predict selectivity in organic reactions and to suggest how it may be controlled.
  • Understanding of the principles of drug design and action.
  • An appreciation of approaches used to investigate how nature produces biologically active molecules (biosynthesis).
  • Understanding of carbonyl chemistry that underpins much of natural product biosynthesis.
  • Understand how conformation and the anomeric effect influences structure and reactivity.
  • Understand the roles of carbohydrates in nature, the challenges in the synthesis of oligosaccharides and the role of protecting group chemistry.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including lectures, workshops and independent study, supported by drop-in sessions, problem sheets and self-directed exercises. The Dynamic Laboratory Manual provides important e-learning resources in advance of workshop sessions. Pre-workshop online material will be provided to assist students with workshops.

Assessment Details

Assessment of learning/Summative assessmsent End-of-unit timed, open-book examination (100%)

Reading and References

Essential reading will be from the following books: Organic Chemistry, 2nd Edition, J Clayden, N. Greeves, S Warren, Oxford University Press, 2012.

Further reading from: Carbohydrate Chemistry, B. G. Davis and A. J. Fairbanks, Oxford Chemistry Primer, 2002; Chemical Aspects of Biosynthesis, John Mann Oxford Chemistry Primer 1994, Natural Products: The Secondary Metabolites, J. R. Hanson, Royal Society of Chemistry, Tutorial Chemistry Texts, 2003; Organic Stereochemistry, MJT Robinson, Oxford Chemistry Primer, 2000. S. E Thomas, Organic Synthesis: The Roles of Boron and Silicon, Oxford Chemistry Primer 1991 G.W. Whitham, Organosulfur Chemistry, Oxford University Primer 1995.