Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

CHEM1050 Fundamentals of thermodynamics and equilibrium

Module Overview

Physical Chemistry is concerned with the application of physics to the study of chemical systems. Through physical chemistry one can understand and predict the behaviour of chemical systems, thereby allowing these systems to be optimised. This module will provide an introduction into the fundamentals of physical chemistry, focusing on basic chemical thermodynamics, the principle of equilibrium and its application to acid-base and electrochemical systems.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Explain basic principles including perfect gas behaviour, fundamental forces in chemistry, state functions, spontaneity of reactions, phase diagrams and titration curves.
  • Define the terms and determine the enthalpy, entropy and Gibbs energy change associated with a reaction.
  • Apply the concept of thermodynamic equilibrium.
  • Describe the thermodynamics of phase transitions, and of ideal gas and liquid mixtures, and how dilution affects melting and boiling points in mixtures.
  • 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.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Meet the learning outcomes of a co-requisite practical module.


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; electrochemical equilibria

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, small group tutorials and laboratory sessions.

Wider reading or practice40
Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Assessment tasks20
Total study time149

Resources & Reading list

Peter Atkins and Julio de Paula. Elements of Physical Chemistry. 

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


Assessment Strategy

Final exam, tutorials and laboratory marks. The latter are accumulated under the co-requisite lab module.


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessed Tutorials 10%
Final Assessment  60%
Laboratory practicals 30%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

External repeat only possible if lab module is already passed.


To study this module, you will need to also study the following module(s):

CHEM1051Introduction to Practical Chemistry I


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Printing and Photocopying Costs

Students will often be expected to bring a copy of notes that are provided electronically in advance to lectures. This can involve an electronic device (laptop or tablet) or printed copies.


The textbook recommended in this core module will continue to be used in future core modules and students will benefit from owning their own copies. Some copies are also available in the library.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings