CHEM40360 Synthesis of Pharmaceutical Compounds

Academic Year 2022/2023

The module is directed towards postgraduate students that are carrying out research in synthetic chemistry, or have a firm interest in this area. Students taking this course will learn about the structures of pharmaceutical compounds, and the methods and technologies used to make them, and about the challenges of developing methods suitable for large-scale synthesis. Students will develop an understanding of the construction of complex molecules using the principles of retrosynthetic analysis, and a wide variety of important synthetic methods. Modern developments, such as the use of flow technologies, and the principles of green and sustainable synthesis, will be included. An emphasis will be placed on teamwork and on problem-based learning, and students will be asked to propose synthetic routes for a series of increasingly complex pharmaceutical compounds during the classes. This will culminate in an assignment in which students will analyse a recent synthesis of a complex pharmaceutical drug, and propose improvements to that synthesis.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
- take a rational approach to devising synthetic routes to drug-like molecules, possessing multiple functional groups, using the concepts of retrosynthetic analysis;
- take issues of chemo-, regio- and stereo-selectivity into account, and propose appropriate protecting group strategies as required;
- analyse synthetic routes for feasibility for large scale synthesis;
- understand the scope and benefits of modern process technologies, such as flow chemistry techniques.

Course graded as Pass (60%) or Honours (76%)

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Small Group


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module will be presented in five or six three-hour workshops, followed by a session for presentation of the assignments.
Most of the learning material will be made available in advance and students will be required to review it before classes. Portions of this material will be presented in lectures, but the majority of class time will be devoted to problem solving. Students will form teams and will work on authentic problems, devising possible synthetic routes to a series of increasingly complex drugs and drug-like targets, and proposing possible applications of modern technologies such as flow technologies.
The teams of students will present their solutions to the problems, and will also present their final assignment (a critical analysis of a published synthesis) to the class. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Presentation: Analysis of a drug synthesis Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be provided on the students' work during the workshops, and feedback will be provided on drafts of the assessed presentation.

Name Role
Dr Marcus Baumann Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Michael Casey Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.

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