Kent State University at Stark
Blackboard Learn
Log In

CHEM 20481: Basic Organic Chemistry
Fall 2021



This course is being taught as a remote section. While the content should be the same as it would be if this course were offered as a traditional face-to-face class, the online nature of this class will make it much harder to ask questions and get feedback. Organic chemistry is considered to be a very difficult course by most students, and it is important to not fall behind. If you need help, please contact me and I will try to make arrangements answer your questions. While email will generally be the first point of contact, I am open to using other tools as necessary.





Students are expected to have successfully completed the equivalent of one year of college-level General Chemistry, which will typically be CHEM 10060 and 10061.



There is no attendance requirement for this remote course. My current plan is that we will have video sessions during the regularly scheduled class periods. These sessions will typically be recorded and stored in Microsoft Teams.


Course Website

The homework system that we will be using is located on the course website, and all of the content I create except for the lecture videos will be posted on this site.

The most important reason for creating the course website is to implement a homework and testing framework that will allow students to draw molecules and receive immediate feedback on whether or not these drawings are correct. This is crucial for understanding organic chemistry, and cannot be done in Instructure Canvas (or Blackboard Learn).


Course Description

This course is the first semester of a two semester sequence designed to provide a solid background in the fundamentals of organic chemistry, with an emphasis of topics of relevance to biochemistry. It should be noted that this course does NOT satisfy the requirements for B.S. Chemistry majors (who are required to take CHEM 30481), but is intended for students majoring in biology, nutrition, B.A. chemistry program, and other related disciplines.

Because many students are only required to take this first semester, we will not be progressing through the book in order, but will skip significant amounts of material so that we can cover more topics directly related to biochemistry. During this semester, several important organic functional groups are introduced, fundamental reaction chemistry of these groups is covered, basic chemical principles (such as stereochemistry) are covered, and the curved arrow formalism is developed to explain reaction mechanisms. Spectroscopy (IR, UV/Vis, and NMR) will NOT be covered in the lecture portion of this course, but instead will be covered in CHEM 30475 (Organic Chemistry I Laboratory).


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:



Grades for this course will be based on the results of the online homework/quizzes and examinations. Four regular lecture examinations worth 100 points each and one 100 point cumulative final will also be given. Tentative dates for these quizzes and examinations are given in the lecture outline below. You will be given as much advance notice as possible if any of these dates change. Grades will be based on the scale shown below, and will not be curved or arbitrarily adjusted in any manner. Extra credit will not be given.

Grading Scale
Homework and Quizzes 100 pts
Exams (4 x 100 pts) 400 pts
Cumulative Final 100 pts
Total 600 pts
Grade F D C- C C+ B- B B+ A
% 0-60% 60-70% 70-73% 73-77% 77-80% 80-83% 83-87% 87-90% 90-100%


Homework and Quizzes

Homework and quizzes will all be done on the course website.

Homework may be completed early, but must be finished before the deadlines for full credit. You will have unlimited attempts to complete each homework assignment. It is not necessary to answer all of the questions in a homework set at the same time. On subsequent attempts, correct answers will generally be automatically filled in. Even if this does not happen (which may be true for some question types), it is not necessary to answer these questions again.

Quizzes are meant to be a form of drill and practice. Each of the quiz questions are meant to be relatively straightforward  and should not require extensive calculations. You will need to answer a certain number of these questions correctly in a row without any mistakes. If you miss a question, your streak will reset and you will essentially start over (it will not be necessary to exit the quiz). Partial credit is available if you get a streak that is close to long enough. 

If you do not complete a homework set or quiz by the deadline, you are still allowed to work on these and I encourage you to do so. Your homework score will have a 10% deduction for each day late up to a maximum deduction of 50%. Even after five or more days, you can earn up to 50% for late homework.



The format of exams will be varying combinations of multiple choice, true/false, short answer, drawing of chemical structures, and drawing reaction mechanisms using the curved arrow formalism. Copies of old paper-and-pencil exams will be posted on the course website.

There will set days for each exam, and the exams should generally be taken during the scheduled class periods. If you need to  take your exam at another date or time, you need to get approval from me before the exam. The final examination is scheduled for x:xx on December xx.


University Policy/General Information

Information on various University policies (Academic honesty, Students with disabilities, etc.) and other general information (email accounts, posting of grades, etc.) is posted on the course website. This information should be considered as part of this syllabus and is available at:


Tentative Schedule

To emphasis the biological aspects of organic chemistry, we will be skipping over large sections of the textbook that are not critical to the course objectives. All dates listed below are tentative and are subject to change.

Exam #1 - Monday, September 20

Chapter 1: Lewis structures, formal and partial charges, geometry, intermolecular forces

Chapter 2: Line-bond and condensed structures, resonance, curved arrow formalism, delocalized lone pairs

Chapter 3: Acid/base chemistry, ARIO rules, equilibrium

Chapter 4: Alkane nomenclature, isomers, Newman Projections, conformations, cycloalkanes

Exam #2 - Monday, October 18

Chapter 5: Stereoisomers, R/S nomenclature, optical activity

Chapter 6: Thermodynamics, reaction energy diagrams, mechanisms

Chapter 7/7-8: Alkyl halides, SN2 , E2, SN1, and E1 reactions, regioselectivity, stereoselectivity

Exam #3 - Tuesday, November 9
(Numbers following "/" are for 1st and 2nd editions)

Chapter 8/8-9: Alkene nomenclature and addition reactions

Chapter 11/12: Synthesis and reaction sequences

Chapter 12/13: Alcohol nomenclature, synthesis, and reactions

Chapter 13/14: Ethers and epoxides. Introduction to thiols and sulfides

Exam #4 - Tuesday, December 7

Chapter 19/20: Aldehydes and Ketones - nomenclature, synthesis, and reactions

Chapter 21/22: Enolates, Aldol reaction, Claisen condensation, alkylation, conjugate addition

Chapter 20/21: Carboxylic acids - nomenclature, synthesis, and reactions

Additional Material before Final (December 13-15)

Chapter 22/23: Amines - properties and reductive amination