Don't just imagine your future at University, experience it first-hand!

Step into the shoes of an undergraduate student and join us for our upcoming on-campus Discover Days in Science, Engineering and Fashion. These days are tailored exclusively for Year 12s who are interested in taking their academic journey to the next level. Find your favourite subject now!

Find out more about our Discover Days in Science, Engineering and Fashion

MChem Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Core Chemistry 2

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHEM30311
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Chemistry
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 21/22 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  

A 1-semester unit of 24 lectures split into 3 sub-units of 8, supported by 3 individual workshops and one joint examination workshop.

1. Polymer Chemistry                   Prof. M. Turner

2. Heterogeneous Catalysis         Dr. F. Mair (Unit Co-ordinator)

3. F-block Chemistry                    Prof. S. Liddle


The unit is a mix of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, a reflection of the nature of our subject as it becomes more applied to real-world situations. Workshop in weeks  4, 7 and 10, at or near the conclusion of each of section.

As this is a new course, a mock paper will be issued, and a further slot at the conclusion of the course will be used to talk through the exam paper and answer any queries; all three teaching staff should be present.



The unit aims to:

Equip students with the ability to do all of the things listed under Intended learning outcomes for each of the three sections, on Polymer Chemistry, Homogeneous Catalysis, and F-block chemistry.


Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students should be able to:

Part 1

  • Describe types of polymers by structure, composition, names and sources
  • Explain the step growth polymerisation of polyesters, polyamides and high performance polymers.
  • Explain the chain growth polymerisation of monomers by ionic, radical, and ring-opening  mechanisms
  • Discuss the control in polymer form, molecular weight and architecture afforded by these polymerisation processes.
  • Differentiate between step-growth and chain-growth polymerisation processes and predict the expected degree of polymerisation given the appropriate information.
  • Understand how to prepare many common types of polymers and how the polymerisation conditions influence the microstructure of the polymer backbone.
  • Propose suitable polymerisation processes given a starting monomer or desired polymer structure.

Part 2

  • Apply knowledge of fundamental chemistry and fundamental reaction steps to the analysis of homogeneously catalysed reactions.
  • Select appropriate combinations of ligands, metals and conditions to perform a given reaction.
  • Interpret experimental data to inform hypotheses on mechanism of catalysed reactions.
  • Appraise advantages and disadvantages of homogeneous catalysis in comparison with heterogeneous catalysis.

Part 3

  • Describe the history, occurrence, synthesis, periodicity, and physicochemical properties of the f-block elements.
  • Understand the electronic structure, oxidation states, radii, ionisation energies, redox potentials, and chemical bonding of the f-block elements
  • Contextualise the f-block with respect to the rest of the Periodic Table.
  • Understand relativistic effects and spin orbit coupling and the role they play in determining the chemistry of the f-block elements.
  • Work out term symbols for the f-block elements and use this information to calculate free-ion magnetic moments.
  • Rationalise optical spectroscopic data and compare and contrast to transition metal analogues.
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the general coordination and organometallic chemistry of the f-block elements and be able to compare this to transition metal analogues.
  • Describe applications of the f-block elements in technology, catalysis, the nuclear industry, and radiochemistry more widely.

Teaching and learning methods

Unseen Examination

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.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Problem solving. Evaluation of data.


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Feedback through workshops and blackboard quizzes


Recommended reading

Part 1:

  • R. J. Young and P. A. Lovell, Introduction to Polymers, 3rd Ed. 2011, CRC press, Main Library Blue Floor 3, 541. 7Y4, and Joule Library 547.84YOU or as e-book.
  • M. P. Stevens, Polymer Chemistry: An Introduction, 3rd Ed. 1999, OUP, Main Library Blue Floor 3, 541.7, S78, and Joule Library 541.7STE.
  • For more depth: G. Odian, Principles of Polymerization, 4th Ed. 2004, Wiley, Main Library 541.7O7 or as e-book

Part 2:

  • R. H. Crabtree, The Organometallic Chemistry of the Transition Metals, 5th Ed. Wiley, 2009. Main Library Blue Floor 3, 547.056 C1, or as e-book.
  • Ch. Elschenbroich. Organometallics, 3rd Ed. Wiley-VCH, Main Library Blue Floor 3, 547.9 E2, or as e-book
  • S. Bhaduri and D. Mukesh, Homogeneous Catalysis: Mechanisms and Industrial Applications. Wiley, 2000, Joule Library 660.097BHA.
  • S. P. Nolan (Ed.), N-Heterocyclic Carbenes in Synthesis, Wiley, 2006, , Main Library Blue Floor 3, 547.1N22, or as e-book.

Part 3:

  • S. Cotton, Lanthanide and Actinide Chemistry, 2006, Wiley, DOI:10.1002/0470010088
  • N. Kaltsoyannis and P. Scott, The f-elements, Oxford Chemistry Primers, No. 76
  • H. C. Aspinall, Chemistry of the f-block elements, CRC Press.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 4
Independent study hours
Independent study 74

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Francis Mair Unit coordinator

Return to course details