Two-step synthesis of paracetamol (acetaminophen), a practical illustration of carbonyl reactivity for Year-One biosciences students

Ifat Parveen, Michael Rose, Helen Phillips, Steve Flower, Tim Woodman, Cameron Garty, Michael Threadgill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


An understanding of basic organic chemical reactivity is key for many biosciences students. The reactivities of different carbonyl groups affects their function in many biomolecules. A practical class, the two-step synthesis of paracetamol, has been devised to illustrate the electrophilic reactivities of carbonyls which was covered in the accompanying lecture program. Students also examine the UV, IR, NMR and mass spectra of the esters and amides, building further on the understanding gained in lectures. The practical work itself has been devised to be able to be run in biosciences laboratories with limited chemical facilities. The class has been enhanced during four academic years, with strong support from the students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3955 - 3959
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number10
Early online date15 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The students taking this module were in their first year of undergraduate study and had a wide range of previous experience in a laboratory setting. Thus, this experiment was designed with simple equipment and relatively simple manipulations. Each laboratory class of 40 students was supported by an academic class leader, a senior teaching technician, and a postgraduate demonstrator, who provided demonstrations of the use of equipment and of techniques.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.


  • Adaptation to Limited Laboratory Facilities
  • Amides
  • Esters
  • First-Year Undergraduate/General
  • Hands-On Learning/Manipulatives
  • Integration of Spectroscopy
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Paracetamol
  • Reinforcement of Chemical Reactivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Education


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