NKEK22003U Introduction to Physical Organic Chemistry

Volume 2023/2024

The Organic Chemistry course covers structure and mechanisms in organic chemistry with an emphasis on physical organic chemistry.

The major topics are:


-       Chemical bonding and structures (electronegativity, VSEPR, Lewis structures, hybridization, QMOT, orbital mixing);

-       Stereochemistry (configuration, conformation, chirality);

-       Conformationally, sterically and stereoelectronic effects (thermodynamic, kinetic);

-       Solutions and non-covalent binding forces (strong and weak interactions)

-       Acid-Base chemistry (definitions and implications of pH and pKa);

-       Energy surfaces and Kinetics (transition state theory, Hammond postulate, More O’Ferral-Jencks plots)

-       Isotope effects (theory and practice)

-       LFER (Hammett, Bronsted relationship, enthalpy-entropy compensation)

-       Catalysis (General and specific acid/base catalysis)

-       Organic Reaction Mechanisms (Nucleophilic substitution and elimination reactions)

And special topics related to the above topics.


The teaching will to a large extent follow the themes in the teaching book chapters, but additional literature will be used to support each topic. The additional literature will mainly be classic and contemporary articles and concepts in organic chemistry. When possible and appropriate, examples from the teachers own research will be used as examples of applied physical organic chemistry. Each topic will be introduces by the lecturer followed by discussions on the class. Exercises for each chapter will be handed out and discussed on the class based on the questions from the textbook or independently prepared quiz.

It is required that all students present at least one research paper during the course. 

Learning Outcome

After passing the course the student should be able to:


Describe chemical stability and strain using physical organic chemistry.

Justify a profile of simple organic reactions using principle of kinetic and thermodynamic 


Apply the theory to identify structure-property relationship in simple molecular systems.


Explain and discuss the above topics. Analyze stability and strain of compounds and chemical systems on the basis of physical organic chemistry.

Course material will be indicated on Absalon

Basic competencies in physical chemistry, quantum chemistry, inorganic chemistry are necessary and intermediate competencies in organic chemistry and organic synthesis are necessary (equivalent to KemiOrg and OrgSyn).

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
The teaching is divided into lectures by the teacher (and invited lecturers), student presentations of research papers and exercises (solved by the students at home – discussed on the class). Special topics and own experiences will be included when appropriate in the context
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 16
  • Preparation
  • 155
  • Theory exercises
  • 30
  • Exam
  • 5
  • Total
  • 206
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 4 hours under invigilation
Type of assessment details
Written examination.
Only certain aids allowed

Text book and molecular building models are allowed

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Same as ordinary exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

See Learning Outcome