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Unit information: Intermediate Physical and Theoretical Chemistry in 2016/17

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Unit name Intermediate Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
Unit code CHEM20190
Credit points 30
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Chris Russell
Open unit status Not open

CHEM10600, CHEM10700*, CHEM10800, CHEM10900* (or equivalent mathematics unit as approved by the School). *Not required for F320, F322, F323



School/department School of Chemistry
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit develops the introduction to physical chemistry given in CHEM 10600/700/800 to provide the essential base of physical chemistry required for advanced study at Levels 6 and 7 (Years 3 and 4). It covers the main areas of the subject e.g. molecular energy, thermodynamics, chemical energy, equilibria, states of matter, properties of solutions (including electrolytes) and interfaces. Workshops are integral to the unit.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Understanding of the simple harmonic oscillator and vibrational modes;
  • Knowledge that confinement leads to quantisation of energy;
  • Be able to compare molecular pictures of energy flow.
  • An understanding of partition functions and density of states.
  • Ability to calculate internal energy from the partition function and entropy;
  • An understanding Gibbs and Helmholtz energies;
  • Be able to predict a stable phase as a function of temperature;
  • Have an appreciation of the factors that influence equilibria in complex reactions;
  • An appreciation of photochemistry as a way of breaking bonds;
  • Be able to explain how the rate equations related to collision theory and elementary steps;
  • Understand vapour pressures for ideal and real mixtures;
  • Appreciate the stress dynamic nature of a surface;
  • Be able to explain fundamental properties of a curved surface;
  • Be able to apply the Nernst equation to unseen situations;
  • An appreciation of the mobility of ions in solution.

Teaching details

Lectures, workshops (classes of 20 students with two staff members) and masterclasses (interactive seminar sessions of the whole class) and independent study. The Dynamic Laboratory Manual provides important e-learning resource in advance of workshop/masterclass sessions. Pre-workshop online material will be provided to assist students with the contact workshop.

Assessment Details

Exam: 2 x 2 hours 30 mins

Reading and References

Essential reading will be from the following books:

Atkins’ Physical Chemistry, 10th Edition, P W Atkins and J de Paula, Oxford University Press 2014.

Further reading from: Dill and Bromberg Molecular Driving Forces, Garland Science, London, 2011.