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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CHEM1211 Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry

10 creditsClass Size: 200

Module manager: Professor J M C Plane

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

Pre-requisite qualifications

A Level in Chemistry or equivalent

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module


On completion of this module, students should be able to ...
- To consider the factors which govern the rates of chemical reactions and the link between kinetics and mechanism of a reaction, with applications to industrial and atmospheric chemistry.
- To consider the states of matter, the nature of gases, liquids, solids and supercritical fluids, and phase change.
- To show how thermodynamics allow us to understand and predict physical and chemical equilibria, their response to composition, temperature and pressure, with applications to biology, industrial chemistry and electrochemistry.

Learning outcomes
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
1. Experimentally determine the kinetics of simple reactions
2. Write down kinetic (differential) rate equations for simple reactions and understand how to solve kinetic equations
3. Use kinetic data to determine activation energies and the mechanism of simple reactions
4. Describe the motion of molecules in gases, liquids and solids and the intermolecular forces between molecules
5. Use phase diagrams to predict phase changes
6. Use thermodynamic data to determine the values of equilibrium constants Kθ, Kc and Kp and Gibbs energies of reactions
7. Use Gibbs energy to predict the direction of spontaneous change of reactions
8. Predict the response of equilibria to temperature and pressure
9. Construct electrochemical cells and use standard potentials to determine equilibrium constants and Gibbs energies


Part 1. Chemical Kinetics
- Definition of rate and rate equation; elementary vs complex reactions. Mechanisms. Integrated rate equations.
- Empirical chemical kinetics and experimental methods.
- Reversible reactions and dynamic equilibria (link to K)
- Rate determining step, steady state approximation and pre-equilibria
- The temperature dependence of reactions: Arrhenius equation, collision theory. Potential energy profiles, transition states and intermediates. Catalysis.
Part 2. States of Matter, Phase Change and Chemical Equilbrium
- The ideal gas law and kinetic theory
- Non-ideal behaviour in gases.
- Phase changes
- Gibbs Energy, Enthalpy and Entropy
- Thermodynamic origins of equilibrium constants. Kθ, Kc and Kp
- Response of equilibria to temperature and pressure
- Redox reactions. Electrochemical cells. The Nernst equation.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Example Class91.009.00
Private study hours67.00
Total Contact hours33.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Reading for lectures, preparation for examples classes and tutorials.
Preparation for examination.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Progress is monitored through participation in tutorials and exercise classes.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
In-course AssessmentTutorial Work handed in previous week12.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)12.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins88.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)88.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 27/10/2014


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