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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CHEM3136 Energy, Molecules and Chemical Change

10 creditsClass Size: 150

Module manager: Dr Stefan Auer

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Level 2 in a Chemistry programme or equivalent

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module aims to provide students with an understanding of the fundamental aspects of physical chemistry through the study of classical thermodynamics, statistical thermodynamics and kinetics.


To provide students with an understanding of the fundamental aspects of physical chemistry through the study of classical thermodynamics, statistical thermodynamics and kinetics.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1) Demonstrate an understanding of the thermodynamic concepts and properties that are most relevant for chemists;
2) Understand the use of chemical potential as a general criterion for phase and chemical equilibrium and be able to calculate the composition of equilibrium mixtures under ideal and non-ideal thermodynamic conditions.
3) describe the distribution of population amongst energy levels and calculate partition functions for translational, rotational and vibrational motion;
4) apply statistical mechanics to the calculation of thermodynamic properties of gases (heat capacities, equilibrium constants);
5) describe theoretical approaches to reaction kinetics, understand the links between thermodynamics and kinetics, and calculate rate coefficients using transition state theory (TST)
6) describe the link between thermal and microscopic rate coefficients, the partitioning of reaction enthalpy into the products of exothermic reactions (and how this is measured), and features of the potential energy surface that control energy disposal (reaction dynamics);
7) describe other applications of kinetics.


Classical Thermodynamics
The chemical potential. Ideal and non-ideal systems, activity coefficients, solutes and solvent conventions. Phase equilibrium, Clausius-Clapeyron. Colligative properties, osmotic pressure.
Statistical Mechanics
The statistical approach; Thermodynamic properties and the system partition function; The molecular partition function; Contributions to the partition function; Internal energy and heat capacity; Entropy; Chemical equilibrium
Reaction Kinetics
Potential energy surfaces and evidence for the transition state, Transition state theory and formulation using statistical mechanics, Calculation of rate coefficients using TST; State-selective kinetics, energy disposal and its measurement, chemical lasers; Examples of energy disposal, reaction trajectories containing early and late barriers; Reaction dynamics.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours75.00
Total Contact hours25.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

89 hours – watching screencasts, reading, creating and revising notes, preparation for workshops and examination

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Workshops will be interactive with constant feedback available, model solutions will be provided. Online quizzes will provide further formative feedback.

Methods of assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Open Book exam2 hr 00 mins100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)100.00

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

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 07/07/2022 11:10:17


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