Module Catalogue 2018/19

CHY1201 : Elements of Physical Chemistry

  • Offered for Year: 2018/19
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ben Horrocks
  • Lecturer: Dr Fabio Cucinotta, Dr Nick Walker
  • Practical Supervisor: Dr Cristina Navarro Reguero
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment

A-Level Chemistry and normally A Level Mathematics

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



To provide an essential understanding of basic thermodynamic principles, chemical kinetics and spectroscopy and, in conjunction with the stage 1 physical chemistry laboratory class, an introduction to some experimental techniques which can be employed in physical chemistry

Outline Of Syllabus

Dr BR Horrocks

1 Properties of gases, perfect and imperfect gases
2 1st Law of thermodynamics, temperature, heat, work, internal energy, enthalpy and temperature effects
3-4 Applications of the 1st law, physical change, molecular change and chemical change
5-6 2nd Law of thermodynamics, entropy and phase change
7 3rd Law of thermodynamics
8 Gibbs’ free energy
9-10 Thermodynamics of pure substances
11 Thermodynamics of mixtures

Dr F Cucinotta

1 Empirical chemical kinetics: relationship with equilibrium
2 Rate laws: first-order, second-order, and pseudo first-order reactions
3 Experimental techniques
4 Determination of the rate law I: isolation method
5 Determination of the rate law II: integrated rate laws, half lives
6 Temperature dependence: Arrhenius law
7 Collision theory and activated complexes
8 Accounting for the rate laws: mechanisms and steady-state approximation
9 Example mechanisms: Lindemann mechanism
10 Revision seminar I
11 Revision seminar II

Dr N Walker

1 General introduction to spectroscopy
2-4 Electronic spectroscopy
5-7 Vibrational and rotational spectroscopy
8 Spectroscopy and Temperature
9-11 Magnetic resonance spectroscopies

Laboratory Course
Course organiser: Dr C Navarro-Reguero

1 Electrochemical cells: Delta-G of a reaction and Nernst equation
2 Measurement of pH and pKa by titration
3 Measurement of solubility using conductance
4 Kinetics using spectrophotometry
5 Infrared spectroscopy - interpretation
6 Ultraviolet/visible spectroscopy
7 Calorimetry: heats of reaction and dissolution
8 Reaction kinetics using conductance
9 Ideal gas law and absolute zero
10 Investigation of the kinetics of the BZ reaction
11 Infrared spectroscopy – physical basis
12 UV/VIS and fluorescence spectroscopy - physical basis 13 Black Body Distribution

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

• Know some fundamental physical chemistry: spectroscopy, thermodynamics, kinetics
• be familiar with simple calculus notation
• be familiar with empirical chemical kinetics, simple dynamical theories of kinetics; collisions, Eyring equation.
• be familiar with the laws of thermodynamics and their application to chemical systems
• understand the basic principles of spectroscopy and quantization of energy
• be familiar with the common spectroscopies employed in chemistry, eg IR, UV, NMR

Intended Skill Outcomes

Subject-specific or professional skills, able to :
• demonstrate practical skills in physical chemistry

Cognitive or intellectual skills, able to:
• use mathematical models, solve numerical problems and handle quantitative data appropriately

Key skills, able to :
• use computers to analyse and present data

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Data Synthesis : Present
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Numeracy : Assessed
    • Literacy : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Present
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Assessed
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Initiative : Present
      • Independence : Present
      • Problem Solving : Assessed
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Relationship Building : Present
      • Peer Assessment Review : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion92:0018:00Writing practical reports
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion330:5027:30Revision for end of semester examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion13:003:00End of semester examination
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture331:0033:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical56:0030:002 x 3h practical sessions take place over 5 weeks
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops211:0021:00Calculation Classes
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery101:0010:001 x 1h drop-in sessions with lecturer for 10 weeks
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study157:3057:30N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge and understanding are acquired through lectures. The calculation classes will increase the ability of students to solve quantitative problems and carry out calculations in physical chemistry. Practicals are designed to reinforce the taught material and practice written, experimental, computer and problem solving skills. The drop in sessions allow discussion between module staff and students.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1802A60N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report2M40composed of several individual laboratory reports as specified in the practical course handbook
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination and assessment are designed to test knowledge, numerical and problem solving skills.

The coursework provides continual practice in calculation.

Practical reports assess written, experimental, computer and problem solving skills.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

Original Handbook text:

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2018/19 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2018/19 entry will be published here in early-April 2018. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.