Foundations of Organic Chemistry

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Advanced Chemistry Lectures This lecture series should be considered for students already having a good understanding of Organic Chemistry structures and nomenclature. Not for a student with just a basic education in chemistry. Lectures are well delivered by a very knowledgeable professor. The use of animation helps the student visualize the complex molecular structures. Although much of this material is over my head I am enjoying learning what I can of this complex subject.
Date published: 2020-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from organic chemistry great presentation good intro onto a broad topic.already own over 170 courses since 1999.
Date published: 2020-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great review for the retired scientist. Good speaker, organized presentations, great graphics.
Date published: 2020-06-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Instructor is down to earth and understandable I bought this because Orgo was a class I passed in college only because of scaiing. Little did I know my job actually required at least a rudimentary understanding of it. Now I am actually trying to actually learn that which I just wanted to get by years ago and I believe I am to a far greater extent than I did when my GPA was affected.
Date published: 2020-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging videos Really nice visuals and engaging stories for how theories have been developed
Date published: 2020-06-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Terrific teaching Love the subject and prof. Would have rated it higher if Ron hadn't introduced the series with the obligatory darwinistic religious dogma. Aside from that attempt at indoctrination it's terrific and enjoyable learning!
Date published: 2020-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I wish Prof Davis had taught me organic chemistry when I took my degree. I gravitated to inorganic because I understood it so much better. This course might have made a difference. So much that was new in my day (1964) is now well established fact. It has been a great refresher. Thank you Now I need to watch it all again.
Date published: 2020-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Foundations of Organic Chemistry I bought this course in early 2018 or late 2017. I've read it twice and just finished again today. I've seen the DVDs. I also have the Inorganic Chemistry book and DVD set. The binding is phenomenal. I've bent this thing, been through humidity, an enormous amount of page tags, written and scribbled in it, erased, and spilled beer. This thing won't fall apart unlike some other cheap books I've had where on day one the pages are falling out. This hasn't been just a reading book but a serious working book. I am most pleased!
Date published: 2020-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fluent Learning in Organic Chemistry It is very helpful to anyone in medical profession. Easy to follow.
Date published: 2019-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from good for updating ones chemistry knowledge. I would only recommend this course if one is reviewing/updating one knowledge. I might recommend the just "chemistry" first. Here we go with a prereq. If you are willing to go down the rabbit hole, good. It will awaken some new brain cells.
Date published: 2019-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from organic chemistry I am an older person. Bought this course to enhance my basic organic chemistry knowledge. Instructor is excellent and has many creative models to enhance the learning experience.
Date published: 2019-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well done Usually I am more of a book Learner than video because lectures move faster than I can think, but in this case especially we are learning 3-D structures and this presentation is a quantum leap beyond what is possible with a book. If only the scientists could leave out the teaching of evolution it would be nearly perfect ! So I recommend skipping the first 20 minutes, then enjoy! The idea of vitalism has not really been disproved as he states because life force can not be measured with instruments humans can build, and it is not as simple as synthesis of any carbon compound. In other words, we cannot have both the laws of thermodynamics and evolution, which is philosophy not science. Other than that I really love it!
Date published: 2019-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very nicely done. I like this course a lot. I've viewed many courses from this company and this is the first one that used virtual reality to illustrate the subject material. I'm not sure, but it looks like they used a Microsoft HoloLens to get these 3D animation shots. This is a state of the arts production matched up with a high quality professor. Hope to see many more virtual reality graphics in future courses.
Date published: 2019-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The title says it all. Organic chemistry is presented in a way a novice like myself can immerse themselves with a top level professor in a course with great graphics and stimulating instruction. Extremely glad for my purchase.
Date published: 2019-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific presentations! I received this purchase two weeks ago and I've watched 5 lectures so far. I love it! The professor is, obviously, brilliant in the subject matter and delivers it wonderfully. Though not by formal education, I am a Chemistry buff and truly enjoy how this professor runs his course. I am very impressed and highly recommend this for people that have some Chemistry background (high school or college class) and like the material. It may be difficult for some who haven't had much experience with the topic.
Date published: 2019-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Organic Chemistry We have had the article about Organic Chemistry for a while now. It is very interesting to me; this is my third attempt to understand Organic Chemistry. My first try was during my high school term. Second was during my Bachelors Degree preparation. Now I am retired and have even less time to listen. So I keep re-listening so I can learn it for the last time. The professor is such a knowledgeable man, it is clear what he is trying to get me to understand. If it weren’t for my stubborn brain!!
Date published: 2019-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Comprehensive I am still enjoying and absorbing the course material. Expect to roll up your sleeves and put on your thinking cap. The lectures are thorough and well organized.
Date published: 2019-01-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good course but with some viewing difficulty I studied organic chemistry in college decades ago and now that I'm retired I thought I would like to review this course and learn what is new. I think the professor does an outstanding job laying out and discussing the many subjects covered in a college course on organic chemistry. The course is very dense and I need to repeat sections to increase my grasp of the material, which is one of the many great benefits Great Courses provides. The main frustration I have with viewing these lectures is the use of what I will call screen framing from time to time. Essentially the viewing area is reduced in size and a frame is put around the video. This is used often when graphic displays of reactions are being discussed. Why on earth would you do this?? The result is that this older viewer/student has to walk closer to the TV set to read what is being put on the screen. There is no value added to this type of display that I can see or not see as it were.
Date published: 2019-01-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from VERY DETAILED The lecturer is very well informed with excellent graphics. I was not expecting to get into the weeds as much as this course does. I am well educated in engineering with only a casual contact with organic chemistry. I was expecting more of an overview than this detailed study.
Date published: 2018-11-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Nice catchy title I bought this for a person that is interested in Chemistry, I have not even given it to them yet.
Date published: 2018-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very accurate description I love it!! Although I have recently taken a chemistry course in college, this course actually help to put many of things I have already learned into perspective. I also subscribe to the "The Great Corses Sigature Subscription Channel," and I also love those. Michelle
Date published: 2018-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent teacher and course This probably is the best course in math and science that has been produced. The lessons review the basic chemistry so you are not left behind. Caution you must have had a good chemistry course to even begin this course. Evaluate your knowledge before trying the course.
Date published: 2018-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well organized I always wanted to learn more about organic chemistry. This course provides an excellent opportunity to learn the basics of organic chemistry.
Date published: 2018-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from good graphics and explainations As I chemist with formal training 40 years ago, it is a very nice refresher.
Date published: 2018-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from for gifted children, a must have Just ordered two more copies for each of my youngest kids, kids. This is the purpose of grandma's, get them ready to take the Merit Scholarship testing, etc.
Date published: 2017-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from right on! I bought this to learn more about bonding in DNA and related chemical bonds. I found what I was looking for.
Date published: 2017-06-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from General Suggestions 1. Provide full transcript of lectures not just course outline. 2. Choose more scholars of religious literature that allow for the possibility that what it teaches could validly be interpreted as true. 3. My wife buys me courses under her account, and I have course under my separate account. How can they be merged?
Date published: 2017-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Davis is excellent. I'm only up to lecture 9 but Professor Davis is well organized and his presentation is clear. The visuals are well done. It is clear from the presentation that the viewer is expected to have had basic college chemistry and ideally, organic chemist. That could be said for all of your university level academic courses. I personally benefit from the inclusion of history and persons in any science or mathematics course. It helps me retain the scientific or mathematical content.
Date published: 2017-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Difficult I admit that I watched only seven or eight of the lectures. They were over my head and I'm not really qualified to say how useful this course would be to someone with a chemistry background. I'm reviewing only to point out that this course, unlike the other science courses from The Great Courses, requires a background in chemistry. My 14-year old niece is interested in the sciences, and though this course is not good place to start, I'll pass it on to her if she really does pursue science.
Date published: 2017-05-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too Abstract for the Uninitiated I worked through this course four times. I also bought "Chemistry and Our Universe" same professor. I discovered that after working through Chemistry and Our Universe, the Organic Chemistry course made a lot of sense. However, the Organic Chemistry course devotes 18 lecture to foundation which are never placed into context with graphics and examples from the real world. Emphasis is on notation, atomic and molecular structure, both as abstractions with no or scant real real examples and lacking visual aids. This course is fantastic for anyone working in the industry, working for a chemist, or scientist in a capacity where knowledge of every scientific chemical notation would be required. To state this is for the so-called 'uninitiated student' is totally not true. I still believe it is a superior reference course, and having it to look up material is very valuable to me. I wish it had been presented in the same manner as his newer course Chemistry and Our Universe, with graphics, and real world examples of the various molecular substances presented.
Date published: 2017-05-14
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Foundations of Organic Chemistry
Course Trailer
Why Carbon?
1: Why Carbon?

Start exploring organic chemistry's foundations with a review of the basic science of chemistry (including atomic structure and the periodic table). Then, get an engaging introduction to organic chemistry: its origin, its evolution, its relationship to carbon, and its fascinating applications in everything from food to fuel to medicine.

34 min
Structure of the Atom and Chemical Bonding
2: Structure of the Atom and Chemical Bonding

Take a more detailed look at atomic structure and chemical bonding. What exactly drives an atom's desire to bond? What are the differences between ionic bonds, covalent bonds, and polar covalent bonds? How does the hybridization of atomic orbitals work, and how does it explain the complex geometries of carbon frameworks?

35 min
Drawing Chemical Structures
3: Drawing Chemical Structures

Investigate some of the key methods scientists employ to communicate the right structural information about molecular compounds, including their identity, the ratio of elements that comprise them, and their connectivity. Methods you'll explore include Fischer projections, Newman projections, and stereoimages-all of which help us overcome the challenges of conveying the three-dimensional positions ...

31 min
Drawing Chemical Reactions
4: Drawing Chemical Reactions

You've learned how to depict molecules as they exist at a single point in time. How about as time passes? The answer: much like a cartoonist. Here, learn about this scientific art form, including writing reaction schemes, expanding them into elementary steps, using curved arrows to chart molecular progress, and more.

31 min
Acid-Base Chemistry
5: Acid-Base Chemistry

Focus on the first of several fundamental classes of reactions you'll encounter throughout this course: the proton transfer reaction. You'll learn the three classifications of acids and bases; the Arrhenius, Bronsted-Lowry, and Lewis definitions; how chemists predict proton transfer reaction outcomes; two kinds of intramolecular proton transfer reactions; and more.

30 min
Stereochemistry-Molecular Handedness
6: Stereochemistry-Molecular Handedness

Make sense of a crucial concept in organic chemistry: the handedness of molecules, or, as chemists call it, "chirality." Topics include the definition of chiral tetrahedral centers; the creation of stereoisomer sets via inversion of handedness; and intriguing examples of stereoisomers (including enantiomers and double-bonded stereoisomers) and their unique chiral centers.

29 min
Alkanes-The Simplest Hydrocarbons
7: Alkanes-The Simplest Hydrocarbons

Start examining various classes of organic compounds with alkanes, whose hydrocarbons consist entirely of hydrogen and carbon. How can a few simple carbon atoms lead to millions of possible alkane structures? How does structure affect their physical properties? And what curious role did they play in 19th-century whaling?

34 min
Cyclic Alkanes
8: Cyclic Alkanes

Turn now to cyclic alkanes, in which the closing of a loop of carbons forms a whole new class of alkanes with properties all their own. As you learn more about this new class of hydrocarbons, you'll cover the phenomenon of ring strain, the equilibrium between chair conformers, and bicyclic hydrocarbons.

31 min
Alkenes and Alkynes
9: Alkenes and Alkynes

How can pi bonds change the chemistry of hydrocarbons? How did one of the greatest rivalries in chemistry lead to an understanding of trends in stability among regio- and stereoisomers with the same molecular formula? Why do terminal alkynes have such unusual acidity? Professor Davis has the answers to these and other questions.

35 min
Alkyl Halides
10: Alkyl Halides

Explore alkyl halides, hydrocarbons where one or more hydrogen atoms are replaced by a halogen atom. You'll examine how larger halogen atoms decrease the volatility of alkyl halides compared to their alkane counterparts (which radically changed the science of refrigeration). You'll also learn about the reactivity of alkyl halides and the phenomenon of carbocation rearrangements.

33 min
Substitution Reactions
11: Substitution Reactions

Investigate substitution reactions: one of the fundamental mechanisms by which one compound becomes another. The simple molecules you've encountered so far can be altered in targeted ways and once you understand how these reactions work, Professor Davis says you've reached "a palpable threshold in the study of organic chemistry."

32 min
Elimination Reactions
12: Elimination Reactions

Cover the second class of organic reaction: eliminations, the primary method for producing alkenes. As you'll learn, elimination reactions proceed with the production of a byproduct formed by the leaving group; in contrast to substitution reactions, they involve a significant increase in entropy because they make more molecules than they consume.

28 min
Addition Reactions
13: Addition Reactions

Complete your mastery of the trifecta of fundamental organic reactions with a lecture on addition, which adds new groups to unsaturated molecules by sacrificing pi bonds for more stable sigma bonds. You'll explore the basics of addition reactions; the hydrogenation of alkenes and alkines; the ways addition has helped create food additives; and much more.

32 min
Alcohols and Ethers
14: Alcohols and Ethers

In this lecture, consider the important role of oxygen in organic chemistry. Among the topics you'll learn about here: the oxygen atom in sp3 hybridization states; techniques for synthesizing alcohols and ethers; and methods for activating alcohols into more reactive leaving groups (specifically sulfonate esters, phosphinate esters, and tosylates).

34 min
Aldehydes and Ketones
15: Aldehydes and Ketones

Continue exploring oxygen's role in organic chemistry. Here, Professor Davis introduces you to the properties and reactivity of two simple carbonyl compounds: aldehydes and ketones. What do we know about these oxygen-containing compounds and their chemistry? And what's their curious connection with how you feel after a night of heavy drinking?

32 min
Organic Acids and Esters
16: Organic Acids and Esters

Carboxylic acids and esters are two oxygen-containing compounds that possess multiple oxygen atoms with different hybridization states. First, look at two ways to prepare carboxylic acids. Then, examine how Fischer esterification produces esters. Finally, learn about retrosynthetic analysis, a tool that helps organic chemists address synthetic challenges.

35 min
Amines, Imines, and Nitriles
17: Amines, Imines, and Nitriles

Turn now to nitrogen, which has played an important role in the chemistry of life since it began. Learn the chemistry of primary, secondary, and tertiary amines, the simplest of nitrogen-containing compounds. Also, consider imines (containing a pi-bond to nitrogen) and nitriles (where two pi bonds are present), including the simplest and most well-known nitrile: hydrogen cyanide.

30 min
Nitrates, Amino Acids, and Amides
18: Nitrates, Amino Acids, and Amides

Nitroglycerine, dynamite, TNT. What do these explosives have in common? They all contain highly reactive compounds that combine nitrogen and oxygen in organics. Look closely at these and other materials in this in-depth lecture on functional groups containing nitrogen and oxygen that covers everything from nitrate esters to trinitrotoluene to amino acids.

27 min
Conjugation and the Diels-Alder Reaction
19: Conjugation and the Diels-Alder Reaction

Start by examining the phenomenon of conjugation involving multiple, resonating pi bonds and the extra stability that they endow on organic compounds. Then, explore two reactions (including one that resulted in a Nobel Prize) involved in conjugated diene reactivity. Finally, spend some time investigating the relationship between frontier molecular orbits and thermally activated reactions.

31 min
Benzene and Aromatic Compounds
20: Benzene and Aromatic Compounds

Get better acquainted with benzene and a class of compounds known as aromatics, as well as the role aromaticity plays in dictating the acid-base properties of organics. Also, learn about polynuclear aromatics, buckminsterfullerenes, carbon nanotubes, and carbon fibers-all at the forefront of cutting-edge research going on in labs around the world.

29 min
Modifying Benzene-Aromatic Substitution
21: Modifying Benzene-Aromatic Substitution

Build on your understanding of aromatics by investigating a very useful class of reactions: electrophilic aromatic substitution. What's the general mechanism by which these reactions occur? What are some of the many modifications chemists can make to benzene-and how can these already modified benzenes be further modified? What role did this reaction play in the synthesis of one of the most infamo...

30 min
Sugars and Carbohydrates
22: Sugars and Carbohydrates

Start taking a more biologically oriented look at the foundations of organic chemistry by investigating compounds known as carbohydrates. Examine Fischer projections of their two main classes, aldoses and ketoses; learn how cyclic sugars help create disaccharides and polysaccharides used in everything from fruit preserves to body armor; and more.

31 min
DNA and Nucleic Acids
23: DNA and Nucleic Acids

Professor Davis introduces you to ribose, the central component of both RNA and DNA. Starting from individual molecules and motifs, you'll progressively work your way up toward a full model for the structure of the sub-units involved in our genetic code. This lecture is proof of organic chemistry's powerful role in establishing who you are.

30 min
Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins
24: Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins

Proteins make up 20 percent of your body's mass. They mediate almost every chemical reaction in the human body, and they're found in everything from medicine to detergents. Here, make sense of the intricate, beautiful structures and interactions of proteins. Also, take a peek at how they're created in labs for further study.

29 min
Metals in Organic Chemistry
25: Metals in Organic Chemistry

Probe the connections between biology and metals with this lecture on some compounds and reactions in the field of organometallic chemistry. As you'll quickly learn, organometallics have a range of practical applications; one example you'll encounter is Dotarem, an organometallic compound used to help detect tumors in cancer patients.

27 min
Synthetic Polymers
26: Synthetic Polymers

Complete your survey of organic compounds with the largest organic molecules of all: polymers. To better understand this versatile class of compounds, you'll learn about the two general classes of polymers (addition and condensation), how they're designed, and how they've changed the world (one example: vulcanized rubber).

30 min
UV-Visible Spectroscopy
27: UV-Visible Spectroscopy

How do organic chemists actually prove the behavior of molecules and chemical structures you've learned about in the preceding lectures? The answer: spectroscopy, which entails the observation of the interaction between matter and light. In the first of several lectures on the topic, focus specifically on observations made with the UV-visible spectrum.

31 min
Infrared Spectroscopy
28: Infrared Spectroscopy

Transition to the other side of the visible spectrum and discover how infrared spectroscopy provides chemists with different information about structures. In doing so, you'll come to see molecular structures in a new light: not as rigid constructs but as dynamic, vibrating frameworks with bonds that can stretch and bend.

30 min
Measuring Handedness with Polarimetry
29: Measuring Handedness with Polarimetry

Continue your in-depth look at spectroscopy with a focus on the plane polarization of light, and the ability of chiral molecules to rotate plane-polarized light. Who discovered this scientific phenomenon? How is it observed, and with what specific tools? Find out in this lecture that deftly blends science and history.

27 min
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
30: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

Visit the radio portion of the electromagnetic spectrum for insights into how tiny, atom-sized magnets in organic molecules interact with radio waves (and each other) to produce a complex set of magnetic resonances-which are one of the gold-standard identification tools used in modern organic chemistry. Topics include Zeeman splitting, magnetic spin-spin coupling, and multiplets.

29 min
Advanced Spectroscopic Techniques
31: Advanced Spectroscopic Techniques

In this final lecture on spectroscopic techniques, discover the importance of modern NMR spectrometers, which use superconducting magnets and radio receivers to collect spectra with more speed and precision (and in different ways) than other techniques. Also, get an intriguing lesson in the human element-and limitations-involved in spectroscopy.

35 min
Purifying by Recrystallization
32: Purifying by Recrystallization

How are organic materials purified for both study and practical use? One staple technique is recrystallization, which relies on the tendency of organic molecules to form highly ordered crystals. Topics here include the effect of impurities on organic crystalline solids; the phenomenon of incongruent melting; and more.

29 min
Purifying by Distillation
33: Purifying by Distillation

Another purification method is distillation, used for producing potable water, refining oil, and more. First, examine the fundamental laws governing this influential chemical technique. Then, get a closer look at distillation apparatuses commonly used for vaporization and condensation. Finally, learn about azeotropes-mixtures of liquids that are impossible to distill.

32 min
Purifying by Extraction
34: Purifying by Extraction

Discover how solubility makes for an extremely effective tool for isolating non-volatile organic compounds through liquid-liquid and solid-liquid extractions (part of a larger phenomenon known as partitioning). As you delve into these processes, you'll learn one way to better understand extractions: making a perfect cup of tea.

26 min
Purifying by Chromatography
35: Purifying by Chromatography

Chromatography-in which partitioning between stationary and mobile phases leads to predictable rates of movement for compounds-is one of the most powerful separation techniques ever developed. And, when done properly, it allows chemists to isolate almost anything they can imagine. Witness a technique at the core of Professor Davis's laboratory experience.

28 min
The Future of Organic Chemistry
36: The Future of Organic Chemistry

Finish the course by peering into the future of this fascinating field. How can groundbreaking chemical advancements help us stave off global famine-and even help us live on other planets? By exploring questions like these, you'll truly understand how organic chemistry can help us build a better world.

30 min
Ron B. Davis Jr.

I hope this will be a lifelong journey exploring and appreciating the rich and beautiful chemistry which breathes life into our planet, the chemistry of molecules based on carbon


Pennsylvania State University


Georgetown University

About Ron B. Davis Jr.

Dr. Ron B. Davis, Jr. is an Associate Teaching Professor of Chemistry at Georgetown University, where he has been teaching introductory organic chemistry laboratories since 2008. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from The Pennsylvania State University. Prior to teaching chemistry at the undergraduate level, Professor Davis spent several years as a pharmaceutical research and development chemist. Professor Davis's research focuses on the fundamental forces governing the interactions of proteins with small organic molecules. His research has been published in such scholarly journals as Proteins and Biochemistry and has been presented at the Annual Symposium of The Protein Society. He also maintains an educational YouTube channel and provides interviews and content to various media outlets, including The Discovery Channel. At The Pennsylvania State University, Professor Davis received a Dalalian Fellowship and the Dan Waugh Teaching Award. He is also a member of the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society.

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