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Unit of study_

CHEM3115: Synthetic Medicinal Chemistry

Semester 2, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The development of new pharmaceuticals fundamentally relies on the ability to design and synthesize new compounds. Synthesis is an enabling discipline for medicinal chemistry - without it, the development of new drugs cannot progress from design to implementation, and ultimately to a cure. This unit will tackle important factors in drug design, and will highlight the current arsenal of methods used in the discovery of new drugs, including rational drug design, high throughput screening and combinatorial chemistry. We will develop a logical approach to planning a synthesis of a particular target structure. The synthesis and chemistry of heterocycles, which comprise some 40% of all known organic compounds and are particularly common in pharmaceuticals, will be outlined. Examples will include important ring systems present in biological systems, such as pyrimidines and purines (DNA and RNA), imidazole and thiazole (amino acids and vitamins) and porphyrins (natural colouring substances and oxygen carrying component of blood). Throughout the course, the utility of synthesis in medicinal chemistry will be illustrated with case studies such as anti-influenza (Relenza), anaesthetic (benzocaine), anti-inflammatory (Vioxx), antihypertensive (pinacidil) and cholesterol-lowering (Lovastatin) drugs.

Unit details and rules

Unit code CHEM3115
Academic unit Chemistry Academic Operations
Credit points 6
[(CHEM2401 or CHEM2911 or CHEM2915) AND (CHEM2402 or CHEM2912 or CHEM2916)] OR (CHEM2521 or CHEM2921 or CHEM2991)
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Girish Lakhwani,
Lecturer(s) Ronald Clarke,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Examination
Canvas examination made up of short answer questions.
38% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO8
Small test In-semester tests
2x in-semester tests: see canvas for details
10% Multiple weeks See canvas for details
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO8 LO2
Assignment hurdle task Investigative lab report and presentation
Lab report submitted on Canvas and Presentation done online.
40% Multiple weeks See canvas for details
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assignment Written Assignment
See canvas for details
12% Week 08 See canvas for details
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4 LO7 LO8
hurdle task = hurdle task ?
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Theory: The theory course represents 60% of the unit mark. You must pass the theory component to pass the unit. Theory assessment comprise of final examination, two in-semester tests and written assignments. Final examination covers the whole of the lecture course and is made up of short answer questions. Past exam papers are available on the Canvas site for this unit. 
  • Laboratory: The laboratory course represents 40% of the unit mark. It is assessed through a variety of in-class and online activities. You must pass the laboratory component to pass the unit. In addition, you must attend 90% of allocated experimental sessions to pass the laboratory course.


NOTE: Due to the current circumstances, we are offering students with a reduced number of lab exercises.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

At HD level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject as well as a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original solutions for nov highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.


75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well-developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging pro and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.


65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad general understanding of the unit material and can solve routine problems and/or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.


50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Multiple weeks Medicinal chemistry & retrosynthetic analysis Lecture (9 hr) LO1 LO2 LO7 LO8
Heterocyclic chemistry Lecture (9 hr) LO1 LO2 LO7 LO8
Selectivity in synthesis at sp2 centres Lecture (6 hr) LO2 LO7 LO8
lab exercises Practical (40 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: All students are expected to attend all lectures, practical classes and tutorials. A variety of notes, handouts, data sheets, and information provided throughout the Unit of Study are intended to supplement the lectures not to substitute for them. Absences from any scheduled practical sessions and tutorials must be explained and supported b appropriate documentation. Even if special consideration has been granted, it is the student’s responsibility to know and understand the material covered in the missed sessions. Please note that the Faculty of Science has a minimum 80% attendance requirement for a student to pass any unit of study (see Faculty of Science Resolutions at

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate an understanding of the language of synthetic medicinal chemistry and the strategies employed to generate biologically relevant molecules.
  • LO2. to explain the outcome of reactions including chemo-, regio-, and stereoselectivity, and apply this knowledge to the synthesis (and retrosynthesis) of medicinally relevant targets.
  • LO3. demonstrate the ability to perform safe laboratory manipulations and to handle glassware
  • LO4. demonstrate the ability to find and analyse information and judge its reliability and significance
  • LO5. demonstrate the ability to communicate scientific information appropriately both orally and through written work
  • LO6. demonstrate the ability to engage in team and group work for scientific investigations and for the process of learning
  • LO7. demonstrate a sense of responsibility and independence as a learner and as a scientist
  • LO8. demonstrate basic skills in computing, numeracy and data handling.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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