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Introduction to Molecular Spectroscopy

University of Manchester via Coursera


The course introduces the three key spectroscopic methods used by chemists and biochemists to analyse the molecular and electronic structure of atoms and molecules. These are UV/Visible , Infra-red (IR) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopies. The content is presented using short focussed and interactive screencast presentations accompanied by formative quizzes to probe understanding of the key concepts presented. Numerous exercises are provided to facilitate mastery of each topic. A unique virtual spectroscopic laboratory is made available to enable students to measure and analyse spectra online. Assessment is via summative quizzes completed during the course period.


  • Ultraviolet and Visible Spectroscopy
    • In this first week we introduce the electromagnetic spectrum and the origin of transitions giving rise to ultraviolet and visible (UV/Vis) spectra. You will learn that electronic transitions are caused by absorption of radiation in the UV/Vis region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The reason for the wavelength and intensity of bands will be described and the colour origin of certain compounds will be discussed. You will also be shown how UV/Vis spectroscopy is performed and you will be able to run and analyse your own spectra. As the final activity in this module you are given a link to view how to obtain a UV/Visible spectrum in the laboratory. Good luck, try and participate in the discussion forums to enhance your learning and don't forget to complete the end of week laboratory quiz which contributes to your final mark.
  • Infrared Spectroscopy
    • In this module we introduce the theory underpinning infrared (IR) spectroscopy and show examples of analysis using the technique. Transitions between the vibrational energy levels of molecules occurs in the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. We start with the theory underlying vibration using the simple harmonic oscillator model. Analysis of more complex molecules is introduced using group frequencies and number of vibrational modes. You will also be shown how to obtain an infrared spectrum and will have an opportunity to run your own spectrum. At the end of this module you are given a link to view how to obtain an infra red spectrum in the laboratory. Don't forget to complete the end of week laboratory quiz which contributes to your final mark for this course.
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy
    • This week we concentrate on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Here a magnetic field is used to create energy levels for magnetic nuclei present in a molecule. Transition between these energy levels occurs in the radiofrequency region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The positions of the bands in the observed spectrum is dependent on the shielding of the nuclei by the local electronic structure, giving rise to a parameter known as chemical shift. Bands also display fine structure caused by spin-spin coupling with neighbouring nuclei. Examples on the analysis of NMR spectra for structure determination will be given. As the final activity in this module you are given a link to view how to obtain an NMR spectrum in the laboratory. Don't forget to compete this end of week laboratory quiz which contributes to your final mark.
  • Final Assessment

Taught by

Patrick J O'Malley, D.Sc


4.2 rating, based on 6 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 2417 ratings

Start your review of Introduction to Molecular Spectroscopy

  • Anonymous
    I'm not sure why this course gets top ratings by some reviewers, except perhaps out of inexperience. Aside from the fact this is one Coursera course you can audit and still get graded on assessments, it is mediocre at best and badly supported at wor…
  • It's an interesting topic, although a lot of previous knowledge is required, especially in chemistry (came here because of cosmology, and had a rough time). There are three main units dealing with UV and visible-light spectroscopy, infrared spectros…
  • Anonymous
    The essentials of spectroscopy presented in a succinct and clear form. Great notes and interesting accompanying short video presentations. Spectral simulations are great and quizzes tough.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent basic introduction to molecular spectroscopy. Ideal for a student like me who is taking chemistry at first year university level. In my opinion is perfect for a first year university level student without any heavy maths.
  • Anonymous
    Superb course introducing molecular spectroscopy for chemistry and biochemistry students. Good background theory plus superb laboratory simulations giving a thorough and engaging course.
  • great course for anyone who wants to understand the basics of spectroscopy, the sound quality is a bit bad, but other than that the videos are good and I give the professor a 8/10.

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