Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code CHEM260
Coordinator Dr GR Darling
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2018-19 Level 5 FHEQ Whole Session 15

Pre-requisites before taking this module (or general academic requirements):

CHEM152; CHEM170  


  • To explain the application of the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics to chemical reactions.

  • To reinforce the basic ideas on factors affecting the rates of chemical reactions and quantify the kinetics.

  • To provide an introduction into basic concepts of quantum mechanics.

  • To advance knowledge of quantitative analysis of molecular spectra.
  • To make students familiar with the basic ideas of photochemistry.

  • Learning Outcomes

    Discuss the difference between ideal and real gases.

    Discuss the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics in the context of chemical reactions.

    Carry out thermochemical calculations involving enthalpy, entropy and Gibbs free energy.
    Calculate equilibrium constants from thermodynamic data.

    Discuss the concept of the chemical potential and its application under ideal and non-ideal conditions.
    Analyse experimental data for the determination of  reaction orders and rate coefficients, using appropriate methods depending on the type of data available.
    Derive and apply rate equations and integrated rate equations for 0th, 1st and 2nd order reactions.
    Show an understanding of activation barriers and apply the Arrhenius equation.
    Describe qualitatively and quantitatively the kinetics of simple parallel, consecutive, and equilibration reactions. 
    Apply the pre-equilibrium and steady state approximations.
    Describe different decay processes of photoexcited states and analyse them quantitatively.
    Demonstrate an understanding of the basic concepts of quantum mechanics, including operators and wavefunctions.
    Show an understanding of molecular energy levels and the forms of spectroscopy which involve transitions between them.

    Compute basic properties of diatomics, eg bond lengths, from molecular spectra.

    Use mathematical procedures and graphs for quantitative data analysis and problem solving.

    Present and discuss the solution to problems in a small-group environment.

    Teaching and Learning Strategies

    Lecture -

    Tutorial -



    1. Revision of material in Chem152: Ideal gas equation, standard states, first law of thermodynamics, heat & work, enthalpy, Hess'' law cycles, entropy, Gibbs energy, equilibrium constant. Examples of calculations using tables of thermodynamic data.
    2. Heat capacity at constant volume or pressure, temperature dependence of internal energy and enthalpy.
    3. Second law of thermodynamics, statistical description of entropy. Dependence of entropy on temperature and pressure, third law of thermodynamics.
    4. Gibbs free energy, changes at constant temperature or pressure. Equilibrium constant K, relation to Gibbs free energy, variation with temperature and pressure, relation to mole fraction.
    5. Chemical potential, equilibrium and the extent of rea ction. Effect of temperature and pressure on equilibria. Extension from gas phase reactions to all reactions.
    6. Real gases, deviations from ideal behaviour, virial and van der Waals equations of state.
    7. Ideal liquids and solutions. Raoult''s law. The chemical potential of components in ideal mixtures: standard and reference states. Colligative properties. Deviations from ideality.
    8. Phase transition of pure substances and mixtures; enthalpy and entropy change upon phase transition; phase diagrams.


    1. Revision of material in Chem152: Chemical reaction rates, rate equation, reaction orders, integrated rate equations, half life, activation energy barriers and Arrhenius equation.
    2. Derivation of ze ro-, first- and second order integrated rate eqns. Determination of reaction order and rate constant: straight plots. Half-life time of a reaction.
    3. Kinetic gas model, collision rates. Simple collision theory (SCT). Potential energy barriers. Reactive Encounters. Comparison of SCT with experimental results. Steric hindrance. Transition state. TransitionState Theory.
    4. Consecutive reactions. The rate determining step.
    5. Parallel reactions. Reverse reaction and relaxation towards equilibrium.
    6. Pre-equilibrium; steady state approximation. Diffusion-controlled reactions.
    7. Michaelis-Menten Mechanism. Lindemann-Hinshelwood mechanism. Chain reactions.
    8. Kinetics of excited state decay, quantum yield, fluorescence quenching, photochemical reactions

    Quantum mechanics

    1. Basic postulates of quantum mechanics and their interpretation, including: wave-functions and Born interpretation and Heisenberg uncertainty relations.
    2. Methods of quantum mechanics including: properties of operators and the relationship to physical observables, eigenvalue equations and expectation values, transition dipole moments.
    3. Hamiltonian and momentum operators, the basics of the Schrödinger equation.
    4. Examples of the Schrödinger equation, including: particle in a one-dimensional box, particle on a ring, tunnelling, atomic and molecular energy levels, potential energy curves, the Born-Oppenheimer Approximation.
    5. Bonding in simple molecules.


    1. The basics of spectra formation: transitions, energy scales, line widths.
    2. Rotation spectra of diatomics: eigenvalues, sel ection rules, line spacing, quantitative description.
    3. Harmonic oscillator model of molecular vibrations: eigenvalues, selection rules.
    4. The rotation-vibrations spectrum: qualitative appearance, line spacings in the harmonic oscillator rigid rotor approximation, quantitative description.
    5. Anharmonicity: comparison to harmonic oscillator, effects on IR spectra.
    6. Vibrations of polyatomics (revision).
    7. Electronic transitions: the Franck-Condon Principle, selection rules, vertical transitions, vibrational structure.


    1. Dissociation induced by electronic transitions:  Bound - bound and bound - free (continuum) transitions.
    2. Jablonski diagram, radiative and non-radiative decay processes , fluorescence and phosphorescence.

    Recommended Texts

    Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.
    Explanation of Reading List:

    Teaching Schedule

      Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
    Study Hours 38


    Timetable (if known)              
    Private Study 106


    EXAM Duration Timing
    % of
    Penalty for late
    Written Exam  3 hours  Second  80  Yes    Assessment 2 Notes (applying to all assessments) Tutorials contributing to the assessment of all learning outcomes by short answer, short essay type, and problem-solving questions, some of which are discussed in small group tutorials, where student participation is expected and assessed, while others are part of assignments to be submitted after the tutorial. Students are expected to spend two hours preparing for each tutorial and three hours preparing the assignment after each tutorial This work is not marked anonymously. Written Examination assessing learning outcomes is by short answer, short essay type, and problem-solving questions.  
    CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
    % of
    Penalty for late
    Coursework    Whole Session  20  No reassessment opportunity  Standard UoL penalty applies  Assessment 1 There is no reassessment opportunity,