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CH30068: Physical organic chemistry

[Page last updated: 05 August 2021]

Academic Year: 2021/2
Owning Department/School: Department of Chemistry
Credits: 3 [equivalent to 6 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 60
Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Semester 2
Assessment Summary: EX 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Examination (EX 100%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Requisites: Before taking this module you must take CH20149 OR take CH20150
In taking this module you cannot take CH40068
Aims: To revise some basic concepts in physical organic chemistry and develop a number of ideas used to correlate reactivity and mechanism in a range of organic reactions.

Learning Outcomes: After studying the Unit, students should be able to:
* Describe some experimental tools for investigating reaction mechanisms and the use of some theoretical models for their correlation and interpretation
* Solve a range of problems involving numerical and mechanistic information

Skills: N/A

Content: Energy changes in equilibria and reactivity. Transition states and saddle points. Activation parameters. Analysis of reaction coordinates. Principle of Least Nuclear Motion. Hammond Postulate. More O'Ferrall - Jencks diagrams. Rate - equilibrium correlations. Hammett equation as an example of a linear free-energy relationship. Signficance of s and r for reactivity and mechanism. Complex Hammett plots : change in mechanism vs. change in rate-determining step. Equilibrium and kinetic isotope effects. Primary and secondary effects and their significance. Heavy-atom effects. Solvent isotope effects.

Programme availability:

CH30068 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Chemistry
  • USCH-AFB01 : BSc(Hons) Chemistry (Year 3)
  • USCH-AAB02 : BSc(Hons) Chemistry with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • USCH-AFB07 : BSc(Hons) Chemistry for Drug Discovery (Year 3)
  • USCH-AAB08 : BSc(Hons) Chemistry for Drug Discovery with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • USCH-AKB08 : BSc(Hons) Chemistry for Drug Discovery with Industrial Placement (Year 4)
  • USCH-AKB02 : BSc(Hons) Chemistry with Industrial Placement (Year 4)
  • USCH-AFM02 : MChem(Hons) Chemistry (Year 3)
  • USCH-AFM05 : MChem(Hons) Chemistry for Drug Discovery (Year 3)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2021/22 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2022/23 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2021/22.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
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