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NES2404 : Physical Chemistry

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ben Horrocks
  • Lecturer: Professor Thomas Penfold, Dr Toni Carruthers
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


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
Complex Reaction Mechanisms

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 ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00Lectures or equivalent synchronous online materials if required.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion122:0024:00Revision for module examination - semester 2
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Module Examination - Semester 2
Guided Independent StudySkills practice301:0030:00Online questions (Canvas or NUMBAS) following workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops441:0044:00Calculation classes including some computational classes
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study163:0063:00Background reading, calculation practice and practice at past papers
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 Questions
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Digital Examination1MFormative Examination - Canvas Quizzes
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative digital 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 online computer assessment tests students ability to perform calculations and solve unseen problems in the absence of the time pressure of a conventional written examination.

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