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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CHEM2131 Chemical Kinetics and Thermodynamics

10 creditsClass Size: 200

Module manager: Prof Dwayne Heard

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

Level 1 Chemistry or equivalent

Module replaces

CHEM2152 Chemical Kinetics and Thermodynamics

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This course will cover two fundamental parts of physical chemistry, namely chemical kinetics and thermodynamics. It builds on the concepts of energy storage, states of matter and chemical change introduced at level 1. The module is concerned with the measurement and understanding of the rates and energetics of chemical reactions, and illustrated using the context of societally important applications of chemical kinetics and thermodynamics, for example atmospheric chemistry and combustion.


To provide students with an underpinning understanding of the foundations of physical chemistry through a study of chemical kinetics and thermodynamics.

Learning outcomes
After completing the module, students should demonstrate:
1) an understanding of both the possibilities for and the rates of chemical and physical change, and of the thermodynamic and kinetic concepts that are most relevant for chemists;
2) an understanding of and ability to solve problems involving theories describing pressure and temperature dependence of reaction kinetics, including collision theory and a basic understanding of transition state theory;
3) an understanding of and ability to solve problems involving the mechanism of reactions occurring in solution, including diffusion and activation-controlled reactions, and the role of the solvent cage in facilitating reaction;
4) an understanding of and ability to solve problems involving the kinetics of complex processes, including parallel reactions, chain reactions, free-radical polymerisation, explosions;
5) an awareness of experimental techniques used to study fast reactions, including an introduction to laser-based techniques;
6) an understanding of and ability to solve problems involving chemical potential, ideal and non-ideal behaviour and the use of activity and activity coefficients, including thermodynamics of ideal/non-ideal liquid mixtures and solutions;
7) an understanding of and ability to solve problems involving relationships between p,V,T and different thermodynamic measures of energy/chemical potential;
8) an understanding of and ability to solve problems involving the extent of reaction chi, and its relation to the chemical potential, change in Gibbs free energy and position of equilibrium;
9) an understanding of and ability to solve problems involving the temperature dependence of the equilibrium constant using reaction isotherms, including application and understanding of the van't Hoff equation;
10) an understanding of and ability to solve problems involving solution equilibria including acid/base, precipitation and complexation equilibria.


The links between kinetics and equilibria. Experimental methods to study kinetics, in particular for fast reactions. Theories of bimolecular reactions: collision theory and transition state theory. Pressure dependence of unimolecular and recombination reactions. Kinetics of reactions in solution. Kinetics of complex reactions: Chain reactions, polymerisation and explosions.

The chemical potential and the criteria for chemical and phase equilibria. Ideal and non-ideal systems, activity coefficients, solutes and solvent conventions. Chemical equilibrium, calculation of yields. Phase equilibrium, Clausius-Clapeyron. Colligative properties, osmotic pressure.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours5.00
Private study hours70.00
Total Contact hours25.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

70h (including 5h online study, also quizzes, note-taking, additional reading, optional screencasts, preparation for seminars)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Online MCQ for one Seminar which is automatically marked and feedback given in-class. Feedback in-class for another Seminar. Workshops with in-class feedback.

Methods of assessment

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

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

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:52:16


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