5 ECTS credits
128 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 1021449ANR for all students in the 2nd semester at a (A) Bachelor - preliminary level.

2nd semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method
Grading (scale from 0 to 20)
Can retake in second session
Enrollment Requirements
Om een inschrijving te kunnen nemen voor 'Organische chemie-theorie en practicum' moet men ingeschreven of geslaagd zijn voor 'Algemene en anorganische chemie', 'Algemene en anorganische chemie practicum' en 'Gevorderde chemie'.
Taught in
Faculteit Geneeskunde en Farmacie
Basis (bio-) medische wetensch
Educational team
Anna Boyen
Hendrika Jaspers (course titular)
Kenno Vanommeslaeghe
Anissa El Arfani
Linus Donvil
Jeremy De Plecker
Jordy Peeters
Julie Vandewalle
Activities and contact hours

24 contact hours Lecture
28 contact hours Seminar, Exercises or Practicals
Course Content


The 1st year Ba curriculum in Pharmaceutical Sciences (PS) contains 4 basic chemistry courses:

  • General and Inorganic Chemistry (1st semester)
  • General and Inorganic Chemistry - Practicals (1st semester)
  • Organic Chemistry - Theory and Practicals (2nd semester)
  • Advanced Chemistry (2nd semester)

The encompassing goal of these 4 courses is to learn/train the necessary chemical background, analytical skills and scientific attitude to (1) be prepared for the further curriculum PS and (2) be able to function successfully in the PS major's diverse prospective jobs and lines of research. Therefore, the course is more focused on developing a deep intuitive understanding of a number of core chemistry concepts than on enumerating at length all possible applications of those concepts and the special points of attention that play a role in these applications. Nevertheless, applications that are of great pharmaceutical importance are mentioned as illustrations where possible. More generally, links to other disciplines are accentuated so that Chemistry can function as a bridge between Physics and Biology, among others. Special attention is also paid to the limits of the applicability of the relevant mathematical relationships as well as the limits of current scientific knowledge. This way, the student is encouraged to question the correctness of scientific results at all times, and more generally to approach given "facts" with a critical mind.

Organic Chemistry - Theory and Practicals

This course focuses on the rich chemistry of the carbon compounds. These compounds play a central role in the pharmaceutical chemistry and biochemistry later in the curriculum. To throw a bridge to these disciplines, a select number of structures and reactions of pharmaceutical molecules as well as life's building blocks (DNA, fatty acids,...) are mentioned briefly as examples.



  • Structure of organic compounds and functional groups
  • Nomenclature of organic compounds
  • Stereochemistry and absolute configuration
  • Reactivity in organic chemistry
  • Types of organic reactions
  • Properties and reactivity of alkanes, alkenes and alkynes
  • Properties and reactivity of aromatic compounds
  • Properties and reactivity of haloalkanes
  • Properties and reactivity of alcohols, ethers and thiols
  • Properties and reactivity of aldehydes and ketones
  • Properties and reactivity of carboxylic acids and derivatives
  • Properties and reactivity of organic amines

Guided exercises

The guided exercises are held in groups of roughly 25 students. Here, the concepts from the lectures are applied to more concrete chemical questions. The main aim of the guided exercises is to train problem solving skills in the context of the theory outlined above. Indeed, the ability to "think chemically" determines success in applying the knowledge from this course to later courses and professional outcomes (and accordingly, it plays an important role in the exam). Moreover, performing exercises with chemical concepts gives the student the opportunity to verify whether he/she has correctly processed the subject matter from the lectures.


In the practicals, the phenomena that were described earlier in the lectures are observed on simple systems. Aside from the necessary illustration of the theory, the practicals have a goal in and of themselves: to familiarize the student with a number of basic methods for qualitative analysis, synthesis and purification, and above all to learn to handle laboratory equipment and organic compounds in the context of safety, precision and yield.


  • Study of the properties of functional groups:
    • Hydrocarbons
    • Haloalkanes
    • Carboxylic acids and their derivatives
    • Aldehydes en ketones
  • Simple organic syntheses:
    • Nucleophilic substitution of a tertiary alcohol
    • Grignard reaction
    • Fischer esterification
Course material
Course text (Required) : Organische Chemie voor de Gezondheidswetenschappen, A. Boyen, H. Jaspers, VUB, 2220170002576
Practical course material (Required) : Labojas XL, VUB, 2220170002583
Practical course material (Required) : Pipetpeer, VUB, 2220170005935
Practical course material (Required) : Veiligheidsbril Overzetmodel duikbril, VUB, 2220170005928
Practical course material (Recommended) : Bouwdoosje voor de constructie van molecuulmodellen, Product: Z119660: cochranes molecular models, VUB en Medische BIB (ter beschikking voor plaatselijk gebruik), 9781090173843
Handbook (Recommended) : Organic Chemistry, J. McMurry, 9de, Medische BIB, 9781305671218, 2016
Practical course material (Required) : Veiligheidsbril Standaard Budapest, VUB, 2220170005911
Practical course material (Required) : Labojas XS, VUB, 2220170002620
Practical course material (Required) : Labojas S, VUB, 2220170002613
Practical course material (Required) : Labojas M, VUB, 2220170002606
Practical course material (Required) : Labojas L, VUB, 2220170002590
Additional info

The aforementioned volumes include all relevant tables and representative series of exercises from which the problems treated during the seminars are chosen. They also contain the numerical solutions to the problems and detailed solutions, along with hints for solving select problems.

The recommended volumes can be viewed or loaned at the Medical Library. Molecular Model Building Sets (for the study of molecular geometry, stereochemistry,...) can be used locally at the Medical Library.

It is mandatory to bring an own lab coat and safety goggles starting from the first practical.

Learning Outcomes

General Competences

  • The student has a deep intuitive understanding of core concepts in chemistry (further elaborated below).
  • The student approaches given facts and scientific results with a critical mind.
  • The student understands how the same laws and relationships that govern the behaviour of dead matter also lie at the foundation of structures and processes in living organisms.
  • The student can easily give/write down the name/formula of compounds. She/he can compose chemical equations and use these in stoichiometric calculations.
  • The student is familiar with the Lewis theory of bonding and with skeleton formulas. She or he understands the concepts of resonance and resonance energy, and can write resonance structures and estimate their relative weights qualitatively where applicable.
  • The student understands the factors that determine which conformations a molecule can assume and how energetically favorable these conformations are.
  • The student can use their understanding of non-covalent interactions and the electron withdrawing effect of functional groups to explain the chemical and physical properties of organic compounds.
  • The student understands the interplay between thermodynamic and kinetic arguments that determines whether a reaction will fully, partially or not at all proceed within a relevant time frame.
  • The student understands the reasons for reactivity of different classes of compounds and can explain these using reaction mechanisms.
  • The student can predict the final products of a reaction including possible side reactions, and can recognise different classes of reactions.
  • The student has acquired insight into the necessary control of reaction conditions and methods for purification.
  • The student can draw the stereo-isomers of compounds and establish their relationships.
  • The student has acquired a number of experimental skills such as the usage of a separatory funnel, Büchnerfilter, reflux and distillation apparatus.
  • The student can write down experimental conditions for problems that are analogous to those encountered during the practicals.
  • The student has a correct lab attitude in terms of execution, group- and individual work and safety hazards in the organic lab.
  • The student is able to compute experimental data and can communicate his/her results as a written scientific report.
  • The student understands the practical aspects of qualitative analyses in organic chemistry.


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:
Written Exam determines 85% of the final mark.
PRAC Lab Work determines 15% of the final mark.

Within the Written Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • Examen schriftelijk with a relative weight of 70 which comprises 70% of the final mark.
  • Examen schriftelijk labo with a relative weight of 15 which comprises 15% of the final mark.

Within the PRAC Lab Work category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • Pract LAB with a relative weight of 15 which comprises 15% of the final mark.

Additional info regarding evaluation
  • Partial grades in first session:
    • Day-to-day performance in the practicals is scored during the academic year based on preparation, lab-attitude, teamwork, execution and reporting. Non-legitimate absence lowers this score proportionally to the number of missed practicals. A student who effectively participated in only half or less of the practicals (regardless of whether the absence was legitimate or not) is not allowed to take the exam and consequently does not pass.
    • In the exam period, a written exam takes place about the theory/exercises on the one hand and the practicals on the other hand. This written exam consists largely of open questions (knowledge, insight and exercises). A limited number of multiple choice questions may be included, following the same principles.
  • The final grade is the weighted average of the written exam of the theory and exercises (70%), the written exam of the practicals (15%) and the day-to-day performance in the practicals (15%). Warning! If a partial grade was lower than 7/20, the final grade cannot be higher than 7/20!
  • Second session: partial grades for written exams are transferred to the 2nd session if they were ≥ 9.50/20; the partial grade for day-to-day performance is always transferred to the 2nd session.
  • Next academic year: partial grades for written exams are transferred to the next academic year if they were ≥ 9.50/20; the partial grade for day-to-day performance is transferred to the next academic year session if it was ≥ 12.00/20. In the latter case, the student is exempt from participation in the practicals.
Allowed unsatisfactory mark
The supplementary Teaching and Examination Regulations of your faculty stipulate whether an allowed unsatisfactory mark for this programme unit is permitted.

Academic context

This offer is part of the following study plans:
Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences: default (only offered in Dutch)
Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences: Initial track (only offered in Dutch)