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The University of Southampton

CHEM2021 Intermediate Physical Chemistry II

Module Overview

The aim of this module is to provide a basis for future studies in chemistry and allied subjects. Students select two areas of Chemistry from Inorganic, Organic, and Physical Chemistry according to the needs of their programme of study. This module is specifically deals with the physical chemistry aspects Please consult with the leader of your programme or your personal academic tutor in deciding which two modules to follow. Note that this module is not available for students enrolled in any of the Chemistry degree programmes.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Consolidated understanding of fundamental thermodynamics concepts (enthalpy, entropy and free energy)
  • Thermodynamics: Understand and use thermodynamics entities (enthalpy, entropy and free energy) and basic statistical mechanics to derive details chemical equilibrium & change
  • Kinetics: Ability to analyse and predict the kinetics of reaction sequences and understand the basic dynamics of reactions
  • Ability to utilize the basic thermodynamics and kinetics knowledge in a problem based approach
  • An advanced understanding of the use of mathematical concepts in support of your understanding of concepts in physical chemistry and the ability to solve problems.


The content of the course includes coverage of the following: • Isolated and closed systems are introduced as models of real systems. • The thermodynamic principles introduced in the first year are reviewed. • Further thermodynamic relationships requiring the appropriate use of calculus are described, principally relating to the thermodynamic definitions and use of entropy. • Statistical Thermodynamics is introduced by a detailed consideration of entropy. The Boltzmann equation for entropy is used as the starting point to develop an understanding of the effect of a given system configuration to the properties of the overall system. • Boltzmann’s equation is developed from the point of view of maximising entropy subject to constraints; this leads to the definition of the partition function. • The link between Boltzmann’s equation, entropy and Gibbs free energy is developed. • The statistical perspective of equilibrium constants is explored using schematic representations of the occupancy of system levels and a specific relationship between equilibrium constant and partition function is identified. • Revision of key kinetic concepts from year 1 (e.g. rate laws and reaction sequences for zero, first and second order reactions) • Steady State Approach to multistep reactions, applied to chain reactions, enzyme reactions, (including derivation of Michaelis-Menten equation) • Reaction Dynamics, Arrhenius equation, and Transition State Theory • Solution vs Gas Phase Reactions: Diffusion

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, workshops with group working and tutor support Preparation for scheduled sessions hours includes other independent study

Preparation for scheduled sessions25
Total study time75

Resources & Reading list

M J Pilling and P W Seakins. Reaction Kinetics. 

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


Assessment Strategy

Assessment based on the exam and workshops


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 90%
Workshop activities 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: CHEM2020

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