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:
Advanced Organic Synthesis

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHEM40411
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 4
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. 

Organometallics in synthesis (Prof Igor Larrosa, 8 lectures)

  • Applications of main group metal complexes to organic synthesis
  • Directed C-H metallation of organic substrates using organolithiums.
  • Organocuprate chemistry
  • Organogold catalysis for alkene and alkyne functionalisation
  • Catalytic C-H activation using transition metals

Transition metal catalysis (Prof M Greaney, 8 lectures)

  • Palladium-catalysed cross coupling using  Stille, Suzuki, and related methods
  • The Heck reaction
  • Palladium-catalysed C-N and C-O bond formation
  • C-H activation in synthesis
  • Alkene and alkyne metathesis in synthesis

Total Synthesis (Dr G Crisenza, 8 lectures)

  • The importance and value of total synthesis
  • Planning synthesis by recognising key disconnections based on the functional groups present
  • Strategic application of named and common organic reactions in complex settings
  • Rationalising substrate controlled stereoselectivity
  • Reagents used to interconvert common functional groups
  • The power of ring forming reactionsMulticomponent and cascade reactions



  • To provide an up-to-date account of modern methods in synthetic organic chemistry, with an emphasis on transition metal catalysis
  • To cover key transformations in depth and to put them in context in synthesis
  • To cover the strategies employed in the total synthesis of complex natural products


Learning outcomes

Students should be able to:

  • Appreciate how modern synthetic organic chemistry is conducted
  • Propose plausible organometallic synthetic strategies or routes to complex organic structures
  • Propose suitable reagents for given transformations
  • Be able to suggest mechanistic or strategic rationales for given synthetic routes
  • Understand the principle mechanisms of transition metal catalysed cross coupling, C-H activation, and metathesis reactions
  • Have an appreciation of the importance and value of total synthesis


Teaching and learning methods

Unseen Examination 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Problem-solving skills that involve applying the information learned to unseen organic transformations and syntheses
  • Time management and organisational skills (ability to work independently and to work efficiently and effectively)



Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

  • Members of staff will provide written or verbal feedback on specific questions that students may have on any aspect of the course.
  • In addition, a detailed set of answers will be available for all questions set by the staff members. The answer sheets will be made available in lectures and will be able to be downloaded from Blackboard.
  • Staff will also give feedback on attempts made on past exam papers and will be able to provide an approximate classification.
  • Students are encouraged to work through the problem sheets supplied on Blackboard and submit answers to the lecturers for feedback.


Recommended reading

  • J. Clayden, N. Greeves, S. Warren, P. Wothers "Organic Chemistry" Oxford University Press


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 21
Practical classes & workshops 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 74

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Michael Greaney Unit coordinator

Return to course details