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The University of Southampton

CHEM1055 Fundamentals of kinetics and quantum mechanics

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 to kinetics (how fast chemical reactions happen) and to the fundamental concepts and reasoning of quantum mechanics.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Explain concepts including chemical reaction rates, their dependency on concentration and temperature and basic enzyme kinetics
  • Describe how rate laws are obtained from experimental data and how they emerge from the interaction of elementary reaction steps
  • Solve simple problems of multi-step chemical reaction kinetics
  • List the fundamental four forces and the particles that make up the known universe
  • Explain fundamental concepts of quantum mechanics, how it encodes position and momentum in the wave function, how stationary quantum states are linked to the system energy, and how stationary quantum states and energy levels arise in bound quantum systems
  • Solve simple quantum one-dimensional, stationary quantum mechanical problems
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

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


Rates of chemical reaction; Determination of rate laws; Isolation & initial rate methods; Integrated rate laws; Temperature dependence of reaction rates; Elementary & consecutive reactions; Approach to equilibrium; The steady state concept; Rate law of complex mechanisms; The rate determining step; Unimolecular reactions; Enzyme kinetics; Particles; Forces; Electromagnetic spectrum; Probability and probability amplitudes; Position and momentum wavefunctions; Energy; Particle in a box; Confined states; 3D box; Degeneracy

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, small group tutorials and laboratory sessions.

Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Assessment tasks20
Wider reading or practice40
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   (2 hours) 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):

CHEM1056Introduction to Practical Chemistry II


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 may have been purchased in semester 1. It 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

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