CHEM2103: Inorganic Chemistry for Physical Science

Course Organizer: Dr C Blackman

Lecturers:  Prof I P Parkin, 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.
  • describe and place in context the chemistry of main group and transition elements.

Course Structure

  • Lectures:30
  • Tutorials:16
  • 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. 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 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