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The University of Southampton

CHEM1043 Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry I for non-chemists

Module Overview

Pre-requisites are A-level chemistry or equivalent (required) and A-level mathematics or equivalent (desirable)

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide a core for future studies in chemistry and allied subjects, in the following areas: modern ideas of chemical bonding; the shapes and symmetry of molecules; an introduction to spectroscopy and structure solving 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 Physical Chemistry part of the module are to provide: • a review of the concepts of enthalpy and entropy. • familiarity with the first and second laws of thermodynamics. • Introduce and apply the concept of Gibbs free energy. • apply thermodynamic concepts to understand the properties of mixures and solution phase equilibria. • further explaination of the concepts of equilibria with emphasis on acid/base equilibria and electrochemistry.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Explain aspects of titration curves and calculate the pH for different solution mixtures involving strong and weak acids and bases
  • Calculate the equilibrium constants, standard Gibbs energy of reactions, and standard cell potentials for Galvanic cells
  • Calculate the ionic strength and mean activity coefficient, account for the effect of ionic strength on equilibrium constant
  • Define the terms and determine the enthalphy and entropy change associated with a reaction.
  • Explain the concept of a state function.
  • Explain the concept of spontaneity of a reaction and determine the Gibbs energy change associated with a reaction.
  • Explain and apply the concept of thermodynamic equilibrium.


• Chemical thermodynamics: concepts of enthalphy, entropy and internal energy; first and second laws of thermodynamics; Hess cycles; use of energies of formation; definition and use of heat capacity; Gibbs energies and chemical potential; links to chemical equilbria; solution phase equilbria; activities and activity coefficients; effects of pressure and temperature on equilibrium constants; Le Chatelier’s principle; Henderson Hasselbach equation; exploration of equilibria, with emphasis on those important in aqueous acids and bases;

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, e-learning, problem classes, 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.

Wider reading or practice15
Preparation for scheduled sessions24
Total study time75

Resources & Reading list

Peter Atkins, Julio de Paula, and James Keeler. Atkins’ Physical Chemistry. 

Andrew Burrows, John Holman, Andrew Parsons, Gwen Pilling, and Gareth Price. Chemistry3:. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Assessed Tutorials 10%
Examination  (1.5 hours) 90%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (1.5 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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