CHEM2102: Inorganic Chemistry

Course Organizer: Dr C Blackman

Lecturers:  Prof I P Parkin, Prof C R A Catlow, Dr F Cora and Dr C Blackman

Normal prerequisite: CHEM1101

Units: 1 unit

Moodle page:


  • To expand upon the concepts and supporting factual material introduced in first year inorganic chemistry (courses CHEM1004 and CHEM1101) and to explore the varied aspects of main group and transition metal chemistry.
  • To develop both the theoretical and descriptive aspects of inorganic chemistry in order to provide a sound foundation for a wide range of third and fourth year courses.
  • To provide (via the laboratory course) in-depth training and experience in practical aspects of inorganic chemistry, including synthesis, UV/Vis and IR spectroscopy, and magnetochemistry.
  • To emphasise the synergy between the theoretical and practical aspects of inorganic chemistry via the close relationship of the laboratory work to the other components of the course.


At the end of the course students will be able to:

  • explain key theoretical concepts in inorganic chemistry (e.g. group theory, electrochemistry, magnetism) and to use these concepts in problem solving,
  • describe and place in context the chemistry of main group and transition elements,
  • use the skills developed in the laboratory course to synthesise inorganic compounds and to characterise them by a range of physical techniques.

Course Structure

  • Lectures:40
  • Tutorials:18
  • Labs:15 afternoons


  • Exam: 70 % (3 hours)
  • Lab: 20 %
  • Coursework: 10 %

Practical course organizer:

Dr C Blackman

Recommended Texts

  • P Atkins, T Overton, J Rourke, M Weller and F Armstrong, "Inorganic Chemistry", OUP, 4th ed, 2006.
  • B Douglas, D McDaniel & J Alexander, "Concepts and Models of Inorganic Chemistry", Wiley, 4th ed, 1995.

Further Reading

  • A F Wells, "Structural Inorganic Chemistry", OUP, 5th ed, 1984.
  • E A V Ebsworth, D W H Rankin and S Cradock, "Structural Methods in Inorganic Chemistry", Blackwell, 1987.
  • A W Parkins and R C Poller, "An Introduction to Organometallic Chemistry", Macmillan, 1986.
  • C Elschenbroich and A Salzer, "Organometallics", 2nd ed, VCH, 1991
  • A Vincent, "Molecular Symmetry and Group Theory", Wiley, 1977.
  • F A Cotton, "Chemical Applications of Group Theory", 3rd ed, Wiley, 1990.
  • J E Huheey, R L Keiter and E A Keiter, "Inorganic Chemistry", Harper Collins, 4th ed, 1993.
  • W W Porterfield, "Inorganic Chemistry", Academic Press, 1993.
  • P H Walton, "Beginning Group Theory for Chemistry", OUP, 1998.
  • W Henderson, "Main Group Chemistry", Royal Society of Chemistry, 2000.

Additional General Inorganic Chemistry Texts:

  • N N Greenwood and A Earnshaw, "Chemistry of the Elements", 2nd ed, Pergamon, 1996.
  • F A Cotton and G Wilkinson, C A Murillo, & M Bochmann, "Advanced Inorganic Chemistry", Wiley Interscience, 6th ed, 1999.
  • K F Purcell and J C Kotz, "Inorganic Chemistry", Holt-Saunders, 1977.
  • W L Jolly, "Modern Inorganic Chemistry", McGraw-Hill, 1984.

Course Outline

Section 1. Introduction to the Principles and Applications of Group Theory. CB, 10 lectures.

Part 1: Revision of Symmetry Operations, Symmetry Elements and Point Groups

Part 2: Group Theory: Some Definitions

  • Matrix representations of groups, including matrix multiplication
  • Characters of matrix representations
  • Irreducible representations
  • Character tables

Part 3: Group Theory and Chemical Bonding

  • Construction of a qualitative molecular orbital energy level diagram for water, including use of the reducing formula and the projection operator for the construction of Symmetry Adapted Linear Combinations (SALCs)
  • Construction of qualitative molecular orbital energy level diagrams for ammonia and MH6

Part 4: Group Theory and Molecular Vibrations

  • Determination of the symmetries of the vibrations of the water molecule, including separation of the bending from the stretching vibrations
  • Determination and visualisation of the stretching vibrations of [PtCl4]2–
  • The "allowedness" of molecular vibrations; group theory and the prediction of infra-red and Raman spectra.
Section 2. The Chemistry of the Pre- and Post-Transition Metals IPP, 10 lectures

Part 1: Definition of pre- and post-transition metals

Part 2: Trends in properties of pre- and post-transition metals

  • Ionisation energies
  • Hydration energies
  • pKa's

Part 3: Complex formation

  • Hard/soft acids/bases
  • Stepwise and overall stability constants
  • Chelate and macrocyclic effects

Part 4: Redox Potentials

  • Latimer and Frost diagrams
  • Disproportionation and comproportionation
  • Influence of stability constants on redox chemistry
Section 3. Structure, Electronics, and Bonding in the d-Block Transition Metals, FC 10 lectures

This 10-lecture module considers bonding and properties of transition metal compounds (complexes and crystalline solids)

Part 1: Revision and Basic Definitions

  • Counting valence electrons in transition metal compounds
  • Revision on Crystal Field Theory and Spectroscopic Series
  • Classification of ligands
  • Nomenclature of transition metal complexes
  • Isomerism in transition metal complexes

Part 2: Bonding in Transition Metal Complexes - Ligand Field Theory

  • Bonding schemes for Oh complexes
  • Symmetry of metal and ligand orbitals
  • Sigma and pi M-L bonding
  • pi-donor ligands
  • pi-acceptor ligands
  • Synergic bonding and back bonding
  • 18-electron rule and case study using metal carbonyls
  • Survey of key ligands - synergic bonding in CO, N 2 , PR 3 , H 2 , R 2C=CR 2
  • Electronic Instabilities and Jahn-Teller effect
  • Reactions of transition metal complexes - ligand substitutions

Part 3: Magnetism and Basic Solid-State Properties

  • Magnetic moment in atoms and complexes
  • Diamagnetism and Lenz's Law
  • Paramagnetism and Curie's Law
  • Cooperative effects in magnetic solids

    • Antiferromagnetism
    • Ferromagnetism
    • Ferrimagnetism
Section 4. Chemistry of Complex Solids. CRAC, 10 lectures
  • Approaches to the atomic architecture of complex solids, including both crystalline and non-crystalline (amorphous) structures.
  • Experimental methods of structure determination.
  • Structure-property relationships in solid state chemistry.
  • Case studies:

    • microporous solids,
    • perovskite structured oxides,
    • spinel structured oxides.
  • Introductory concepts in the science of amorphous solids