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NES2404 : Physical Chemistry

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ben Horrocks
  • Lecturer: Dr Toni Carruthers
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module builds on the foundation of stage 1 physical chemistry and gives a deeper understanding of the principles that govern chemical processes. The module covers microscopic theories of chemistry based on quantum mechanics, the macroscopic point of view of thermodynamics, the molecular view of reactive collisions, and the statistical concepts that link these three branches of the subject. The principles of chemical energetics, kinetics and spectroscopy will be illustrated throughout with examples of the modern applications of physical chemistry.

Outline Of Syllabus

Foundations and Applications in Quantum Mechanics

Fundamentals in Quantum Mechanics (e.g. Particle-in-a-box model)
Time-dependent and Time-independent Quantum Mechanics
Applying Quantum Mechanics: Quantum Chemistry
Quantum Chemistry in Materials Discovery
Understanding and Computing Excited State Properties of Molecules

Energetics and Interfacial Phenomena

Statistical Concepts, Chemical Potential and Thermodynamics of Solutions
Standard States, Activities and Electrode Potentials
Fundamentals in Interfaces: Adsorption, Isotherms and Electrical Double Layer
Colloids and Polymers
Applications of Thermodynamics in Energy Materials and Sustainability

Molecules in Motion

Kinetic theory, Molecular Mobility and Collisions in Gases
Electrolyte Conductivity and Ion Mobility in Solution
Diffusion-Controlled Reactions and Transition State Theory
Excited State Kinetics
Application of Excited State Kinetics in Energy and Biology

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion121:0012:00Revision for formative examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:001:00Formative examination - Semester 1
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00Revision for module examination - semester 2
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00Lectures or equivalent synchronous online materials if required.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Module Examination - Semester 2
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops441:0044:00Calculation classes including some computational classes
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery661:0066:00Lecturer drop-in sessions for individual queries
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study119:0019:00Background reading, online questions, and practice of past papers
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time221:0022:00Online questions (Canvas or NUMBAS) following workshops
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

A variety of methods will be used for delivery of the material and to ensure that students actively engage with the subject matter. Traditional lecture delivery is accompanied by calculation classes.

Each lecturer will be available for drop-in sessions where students can have queries clarified.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A75Module Examination - Semester 2
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Computer assessment1A25Online Workshop Questions
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Digital Examination1MFormative Examination - Semester 1
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative exam will assess the level of knowledge and understanding from topics studied in semester 1. This will allow the module team to review and feedback on any topic which may have been problematic.

The summative written examination will assess the level of knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the module. The examination will present students with questions from a selection of topics learnt throughout semester 1 and 2 module content.

Reading Lists