The University of Southampton

CHEM1044 Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry II for non-chemists

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this course is to provide a core for future studies in chemistry and allied subjects, in aspects of Physical Chemistry as specified below, Teaching in this course recognises the diversity of our intake in terms of A level syllabus followed and choice of non-Chemistry A level subjects (maths, physics, etc.). Lecture component: The aims of the first half of the Physical Chemistry part of the module are to provide: • an understanding of simple chemical kinetics including zero, first, and second order rate laws. • an understanding of the concept of activation energy and its effects on the rates of chemical reactions. • the tools to derive the rate law for simple reaction mechanisms • an understanding of the concept of steady state, steady state approximation and its use in deriving the rate law for complex mechanisms such as that found in unimolecular reactions. After studying this part of the module, students should be able to: • determine rate constants and half-life for 0, 1st and 2nd order reactions from experimental datasets • write the rate of reaction taking into account the stoichiometry of all species, express a rate law for elementary processes • determine the order of reactions with respect to given species by applying the initial rate method and isolation method, express the rate law from the orders with respect to the species involved • draw an energy versus reaction coordinate diagram, predict the dependence of rate constants on temperature, calculate the activation energy and preexponential factors • apply the steady state approximation and derive the rate law of a complex mechanism such as that found in unimolecular reactions. The aims of the second half of the Physical Chemistry part of the module are to provide: • an introduction to quantisation of energy levels and degeneracy using the particle in a 1D and 2D box as examples. • an overview of the interaction of radiation with matter, and a basic understanding of absorption, emission and scattering processes. • coverage of the basic principles of the major spectroscopies, including ultraviolet & visible spectroscopy, infrared and microwave spectroscopies

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • explain the concept of a particle in a box and the solutions to the Schrödinger equation for particles in 1D, 2D and 3D boxes
  • explain the concept of degeneracy
  • sketch energy level diagrams corresponding to spectroscopic transitions for the various spectroscopic methods covered
  • calculate fundamental properties of molecules using spectroscopic data and similarly predict spectroscopic features given the fundamental properties
  • apply selection rules to predict observed spectroscopic transitions
  • understand and apply the Boltzman distribution and its effect on the observed spectra


• Kinetics: Rate expressions and rate laws for simple zero, first, and second order reactions; the concept of activation energy and its effect on the rates of chemical reactions • Introductory Quatum Mechanics: the Schrödinger equation; particle in a 1D and 2D box; degeneracy. • Radiation and Matter: The Electromagnetic Spectrum again; Absorption; Stimulated and spontaneous emission; Principle of the Laser; Raman and Rayleigh scattering; Types of spectroscopy. • Ultraviolet and visible spectroscopy: Beer-Lambert law; Absorption/emission processes; Jablonski diagrams; Fluorescence and Phosphorescence • Infrared and microwave spectroscopy: Vibrational quantum states; Selection rules for IR; Modes of oscillation; Rotation and moment of inertia; Linear rotor QM states; Rotational constant; Selection rules for microwave; PQR rotation vibration spectra; Rotational and vibrational Raman.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, problem-solving tutorials with group working and tutor support Feedback is provided • In tutorials through assistance with the set work. • Through the marks achieved in the in online tests. • Through generic feedback following the examinations. • Upon request by viewing of marked examination scripts.

Preparation for scheduled sessions32
Total study time75

Resources & Reading list

E. Steiner (2008). The Chemistry Maths Book. 

P W Atkins and J. de Paula (2013). Elements of Physical Chemistry. 

Andrew Burrows, John Holman, Andrew Parsons, Gwen Pilling, and Gareth Price (2009). Chemistry3: Introducing inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. 

C.N. Banwell and E. McCash (1994). Fundamentals of Molecular Spectroscopy. 

W G Richards and P R Scott. Energy Levels in Atoms and Molecules. 

P. Monk, L.J. Munro (2010). Maths for Chemists. 

C. Lawrence, A. Rodger, R. Compton. Foundations of Physical Chemistry. 

S. Duckett, B. Gilbert. Foundations of Spectroscopy. 

James Keeler and Peter Wothers (2008). Chemical Stucture and Reactivity. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: CHEM1033 or CHEM1043

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