General Organic Chemistry I (with Virtual Laboratory)

CHEM 281/3.0

An introduction to the basic principles of organic chemistry with emphasis on bonding, stereochemistry, reaction intermediates and reaction mechanisms, and structure-reactivity correlations. Intended for students in biological and life sciences. Students in chemistry or biochemistry programs should not enrol in this course.

Download a visual infographic for CHEM 281/3.0

Learning Outcomes

Textbook sections covered (Organic Chemistry, Solomons and Fryhle, 11th ed.)

A. What is an Organic Molecule?
1.1-1.8Lewis Structures (review)
1.17Structural Formulas
1.9-1.15Molecular Geometry: Quantum Mechanical Model (review)
2.1-2.2Hydrocarbons ("the skeleton")
2.3-2.4Polar and Non-Polar Compounds
2.5-2.12Functional Groups ("the organs") 
2.13-2.15Physical Properties and Intermolecular Forces
B. Organic Reactions: General Principles
3.1Organic Reaction Mechanisms
3.2-3.15Acid-Base Reactions
C. Stereochemistry I: Conformational Analysis
4.1-4.2, 4.7-4.9Conformational Analysis of Alkanes
4.10-4.15Conformational Analysis of Cycloalkanes
D. Stereochemistry II: Chirality
5.2-5.6Chirality and Enantiomers
5.7, 7.2Nomenclature: R/S and E/Z systems
5.8-5.9Optical Activity
5.11-5.14More than One Stereocenter: Enantiomers and Diastereomers
5.15-5.18More and Chirality: Separation of Enantiomers
E. How to Make Organic Molecules? Nucleophilic Substitution and Elimination Reactions
6.1-6.4Nucleophilic Substitution Reactions
6.5-6.8The Mechanism of SN2 Reactions
6.9-6.12The Mechanism of SN1 Reactions
6.13SN1 vs. SN2
6.14, 7.10-7.12Functional Group Transformations via Substitution
E. How to Make Organic Molecules? Nucleophilic Substitution and Elimination Reactions (continued)
6.15-6.17Elimination Reactions: E1 & E2
6.18-6.19Substitution vs. Elimination
7.3-7.8Making Alkenes via Elimination Reactions
7.9Making Alkynes via Elimination Reactions
11.14SN1 and SN2 Reactions with Epoxides
F. Addition to Alkenes and Alkynes; Alcohols and Ethers
7.13-7.14Addition to Alkenes: Hydrogenation
8.1-8.6Addition to Alkenes: Markonikov's Rule
8.7-8.11Hydroboration-Oxidation: Anti-Markovnikov syn Hydration
8.12-8.14, 8.18-8.19Electrophilic Addition of Halogens to Alkenes and Alkynes
8.16-8.18, 8.20, 11.13Oxidation of Alkenes and Alkynes, Alkene Epoxidation
11.4-11.12Alcohols and Ethers: Reactivity and Synthesis


CHEM 281/3.0 introduces students to the basic principles of organic chemistry with emphasis on bonding, stereochemistry, reaction intermediates and reaction mechanisms, and structure-reactivity correlations. The virtual laboratory introduces basic experimental techniques and illustrates properties of organic compounds in a virtual laboratory setting.

CHEM 281/3.0 has a significant level of interaction with the instructor and TAs to help students master the course material.

This course is intended primarily for students in biological and life sciences, and for those considering pursuing careers in the health sciences/medical sector.

This course may be used by Queen's students towards the degree requirements of programs in the biological and life sciences. Queen's students taking programs in chemistry, biochemistry or chemical engineering/engineering chemistry should not enroll in this course. Students from other institutions pursuing chemistry, biochemistry or similar programs should check with their home institution regarding the suitability of this course towards their degree programs.



Summer 17: May - June
Course Dates: 
May 1 - June 12, 2017
Exam Dates: 
June 15 & 16, 2017


Proctored Exam


Virtual Labs

Virtual Lab Report



WileyPlus Online Assignments


**Evaluation Subject to Change **

Course Activities

Virtual Labs (15%)


Virtual Lab Report (5%)

The four interactive, web-based labs introduce basic techniques and illustrate properties of organic compounds. The labs are a series of online tutorials and videos explaining an experiment or an experimental technique for which small reading and practice problem assignments are also incorporated. Assessments of the labs will examine concepts related to experiment design and the practical aspects of a science course.

The virtual lab report will be a report to be submitted for an experiment from the online tutorials.  Several practical questions will need to be answered by the student.  A practice lab report will be posted so students know what to expect.  This report will be delivered by the onQ system as an electronic file partway through the course (deadline TBA).

WileyPLUS Online Mastery Assignments (15%)

WileyPLUS online materials are designed to help you expand your knowledge in the concepts discussed and act as a supplementary virtual tutor. The assignments provide an opportunity for you to apply your knowledge to a mastery level before moving onto another topic. Practice questions are also available to help you to check your understanding of the material and increase your skill at completing organic calculations.

Final Examination (65%)

The final exam will be made up of a multiple choice section of 30-40 questions, long answer questions, and lab questions.

Web-based Tutorials

Regular, recorded interactive web-based tutorials (with screen sharing and virtual whiteboard) will be held between student groups and tutors/instructor to keep students to milestone syllabus achievements. The tutorials will be both topic-based and free-form in order for questions to be asked and solved. Tutorials will be held at least once every two weeks.

Virtual Office Hours and onQ Discussion Board

Vitual office hours with the instructor/TA's will be available at least once a week using web-based video chat functionality. The onQ discussion board will be available every day. A response to questions posted in the onQ discussion board is guaranteed within 24 hours.

Students must pass the exam to pass the course.

Live Sessions

This course has optional live sessions (e.g. webinars, synchronous activities).

Final Examination

Students must write their exam on the day and time scheduled by the University. The start time may vary slightly depending on the off-campus exam centre. Do not schedule vacations, appointments, etc., during the exam period.

Exam Preparation

A trial midterm exam with answers will be posted after Week 3 along with solutions so students can monitor their progress. The exams will not be marked but there will be online tutorials devoted to them. The online mastery assignments in WileyPLUS will also allow students to identify their strong and weak areas as the course progresses.


John Carran (

Time Commitment

Students are advised to allow at least 16.5 hours per week (108 hours total) to complete all components of the course (online assignments, virtual labs, online tutorials, reading, and practice problems). This is the minimum suggested time.

Course notes and readings6.5 hours/week (approx 2.2 units/week @ 3 hours/unit
WileyPLUS, assignments and other activities6.5 hours/week (approx 2.2 units/week @ 3 hours/unit)
Virtual Tutorials3 hours/week for each of the 6 weekly tutorials
Virtual Labs2 hours/week (4 labs @ 3 hours/lab over 6 weeks)
Total:16.5-18 hours/week

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.

About OnQ

onQ is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into onQ to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the onQ site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA or BSc requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a high speed internet connection as well as a microphone and speakers to be able to watch videos, hear sounds, and participate in interactive online activities. A webcam is recommended but not necessary.

System Requirements:

  • Laptop or Desktop computer purchased within the last 5 years. (mobile devices are not supported)
  • Windows Vista SP2/Mac OSX 10.9 or higher
  • Up to date versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari. Please note that Google Chrome is not recommended for use in our courses.
  • Most recent version of Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash

 See also Getting Started.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Upcoming Application Dates section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for Summer term 2017, Fall tern 2017 and Winter term 2018 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Domestic students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $666.91; for a 6.0-unit course, $1333.82. See also Tuition and Fees.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.