CHEM2103: Inorganic Chemistry for Physical Science

Course Organizer: Dr C Blackman

Lecturers:  Dr J K Cockroft, Dr F Cora and Dr C Blackman

Normal prerequisite: CHEM1101

Units: 0.5 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.


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.

Course Structure

  • Lectures:30
  • Tutorials:12
  • Labs: 0


  • Exam: 80 % (2 hours)
  • Lab: 0 %
  • Coursework: 20%

Recommended Texts

  • M Weller, T Overton, J Rourke and F Armstrong, "Inorganic Chemistry", OUP, 6th ed, 2014.
  • C. Housecroft, A G Sharpe "Inorganic Chemistry", Pearson, 4th ed, 2012.

Electronic Resources for UCL Students:

Course Outline
Section 1. Structural Inorganic Chemistry. JKK, 10 lectures
  • Types of Solids

    • Crystalline to Nano to Amorphous (plus Liquid Crystal) (1st year reminder)
  • Bonding in Solids

    • Ionic, Covalent, Hydrogen-Bonding, van der Waals (1st year reminder)
  • Description of Crystalline Solids in Terms of Atoms/Ions

    • Unit Cells and Crystal Systems (1st year reminder)
    • Fractional Atomic Coordinates
    • Space Groups (in brief)
    • Atomic Vibrations
  • Diffraction to Measure Long-Range Order

    • X-ray (Laboratory & Synchrotron) Scattering
    • Neutron Scattering
    • Electron Scattering
    • Reciprocal Space
  • Crystal Structure Determination

    • Bragg Equation and d-Spacings (1st year reminder)
    • Structure Factor Equation and Peak Intensities
  • Diffraction Experiments

    • Single-Crystal
    • Powder

      • 1D versus 3D and Rietveld
  • Description of Crystalline Solids in Terms of Structure Types

    • Ionic Sphere Packing with Hole Filling (1st year reminder)

      • Simple Oxides and Halides (1st year reminder)
      • Layered Structures CdCl2 and CdI2
    • Effect of Covalency – Polyhedral Structures

      • Titanium Oxides and Silicates
      • Perovskites and Spinels
      • Glasses
    • Network Structures

      • Zeolites
      • MOFs
    • Solid State Molecular Structures (in brief)

      • e.g. Organometallic
  • Structure-Property Relationships

    • e.g. as exhibited by Perovskites, Zeolites, MOFs etc.
  • Short-Range Structure Determination

    • HREM
    • Spectroscopic
Section 2. Introduction to the Principles and Applications of Group Theory. CB 10 lectures.

Part 1: Symmetry Operations, Symmetry Elements and Point Groups

Part 2: Group Theory: Character Tables

Part 3: 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.

Part 4: 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 BH3, CH4, NH3 and OH2
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, N2 , PR3 , H2 , R2C=CR2
  • Electronic Instabilities and Jahn-Teller effect
  • Reactions of transition metal complexes - ligand substitutions