CHY1203 : Introductory Physical Chemistry

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


This module serves as an introduction to the field of physical chemistry, especially in terms of making scientific calculations. It has to be recognised that the nature of calculations used in support of formal physical chemistry teaching differ substantially from conventional mathematical operations. The aim of this particular module is to help students develop the necessary skills by which to undertake such calculations and to examine the consequences of their answers. The basic mathematical tools will be introduced and exemplified by way of making a range of calculations of increasing complexity. The module will link with General Chemistry so that the student sees the relevance of the calculation. At the end of the course, the student should be familiar with all aspects of scientific calculations.

Outline Of Syllabus

Students will be given typical data and requested to work through the problem, addressing units and likely error ranges. Graphs will be drawn and used to extract more chemical information. Emphasis will be placed on teaching how errors are carried through scientific calculations and on the limitations of extrapolation. Specialist training will be given in the use of Excel, Equation Editor, and Maxima. A range of mathematical operations will be covered, including:

•       Re-arranging equations
•       Quadratics and higher-orders
•       Logarithms and exponentials
•       Graphs, interpolation and extrapolation
•       Integration and differentiation
•       Complex numbers
•       Simultaneous equations
•       Series expansion
•       Reciprocals, approximations, simplifications and rounding up.

These operations will be built around a particular scientific principle – mostly thermodynamic or kinetic – such that realistic numbers result from the calculation.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice65:0030:00Calculation class revision
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops61:006:00Calculation class
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study152:0052:00To work through problems, addressing units and likely error ranges
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students acquire knowledge and understanding through lectures. They practice calculations, the manipulation of scientific equations and the use of units in the calculation classes.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Computer assessment1M1006 x computer assessments
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

They practise calculations, the manipulation of equations and the use of units in the calculation classes.

Reading Lists