Structure and Reactivity of Organic Compounds I

Module titleStructure and Reactivity of Organic Compounds I
Module codeBIO1345
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Mark Wood (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Building on the principles of structure and reactivity of organic molecules studied at A-Level or equivalent, this module provides fundamental information on aspects of stereochemistry and the basics of addition, substitution and elimination reactions. Along with modules BIO1340 and BIO1346, this module provides the backbone of modern chemistry, enabling you to understand the chemical reactions that form the basis of synthetic routes to biologically important compounds such as pharmaceutical products and the chemistry of fundamental life processes. This module also enables you to progress to the study of pharmaceutical product development in the second and final years, the areas of highest potential employability for Biochemistry/Biological and Medicinal Chemistry graduates.

In order to study this module, you are required to have A-level Chemistry or equivalent.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module builds on the knowledge of the basic principles of organic chemistry gained at A-level (or equivalent). It aims initially to reinforce previous work and bridge between A-level and degree level, bringing all students to a common level of information and understanding. The module then will build on the principles of structure and reactivity of organic molecules, providing fundamental information on aspects of stereochemistry and the basics of addition, substitution and elimination reactions.

Graduate attributes. As part of this module you are expected to develop the following skills:

  • Laboratory and data handling skills – an understanding of how standard analytical and synthetic techniques are used in organic chemistry, and the ability to interpret and analyse experimental results
  • Application of knowledge – being able to understand core aspects of organic chemistry and apply these to solve problems and explain experimental observations
  • People skills – working with your peers during group working sessions/classes

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Recognise and draw simple organic structures
  • 2. Explain the connection between physical data and chemical structure
  • 3. Discuss basic aspects of chemical bonding in saturated and unsaturated molecules
  • 4. Outline basic addition and addition-elimination reactions of carbonyl compounds
  • 5. Describe substitution and elimination reactions of alkyl halides
  • 6. Describe addition reactions of alkenes and alkynes
  • 7. Rationalise mechanisms of the reaction types in sections 4, 5 and 6 using "curly arrow" nomenclature

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding in organic chemistry
  • 9. Evaluate the essential facts and theory in a sub-discipline of the biological and chemical sciences
  • 10. Solve problems and apply basic concepts in a sub-discipline of the biological and chemical sciences
  • 11. Describe and begin to evaluate aspects of the biological and chemical sciences with reference to textbooks and other forms of information retrieval
  • 12. Understand from bespoke video recordings and online "Learning Science" resources, how we deploy established analytical techniques in practical investigation and enquiry within the biological and chemical sciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 13. Communicate ideas effectively by written means
  • 14. With some guidance, study autonomously
  • 15. With some guidance, select and properly manage information drawn from books

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Introduction to Organic Molecules and Reactions:

  • Hybridisation of carbon and bonding in organic molecules
  • Drawing and the systematic naming of organic molecules
  • Brief overview of spectroscopic methods for structure analysis (mass spectrometry, infrared spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Electronic effects in organic molecules (inductive and resonance/mesomeric), delocalisation and aromaticity
  • "Curly arrow" representation of reaction mechanisms
  • The origins of acidity and basicity in organic molecules

Basic Reactions of Carbonyl Compounds:

  • Nucleophilic addition to the carbonyl group with common nucleophiles, including water, alcohols, hydride (from complex metal hydrides), cyanide and organometallic reagents
  • Nucleophilic addition/elimination reactions (amine nucleophiles with aldehydes and ketones and reactions of carboxylic acid derivatives


  • The concept of stereoisomerism and the classes of stereoismers (enantiomers and disatereoisomers)
  • Methods for assigning absolute configuration to chiral centres
  • Diastereoisomerism in alkenes
  • Dynamic stereochemistry/conformational analysis

Nucleophilic Substitution at sp3 Carbon and Elimination Reactions:

  • The SN1 and SN2 nucleophilic substitution mechanisms
  • Elimination reactions and the E1, E2 and E1cB mechanisms

Chemistry of Alkenes and Alkynes:

  • Basic reactions for the preparation of alkenes and alkynes
  • Reactions of alkenes and alkynes, particularly electrophilic addition reactions

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching28Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Workshops
Scheduled Learning and Teaching12Laboratory sessions (4 x 3 hours)
Guided Independent Study10Reviewing past exam papers
Guided Independent Study55Reading recommended text
Guided Independent Study43Reading background to laboratory experiments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Revision class at end of module1 hour1-12Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination802 hours1-15Written
Problem sheet 1102 hours1-4, 7, 12-15Written and oral
Problem sheet 2102 hours5-7, 13-15Written and oral


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination1-11, 13-15August Ref/Def
Problem sheet 1Not applicableNot applicableNot applicable
Problem sheet 2Not applicableNot applicableNot applicable

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • J. Clayden, N. Greeves and S. Warren, Organic Chemistry, 2nd edition, 2012, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-927029-3

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Organic chemistry, hybridisation and bonding, organic reaction mechanisms, stereochemistry

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date