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 CHEM352
Coordinator Dr M Volk
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2018-19 Level 6 FHEQ Second Semester 15

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



The aims of the three components are:

·        Physical Chemistry of the Condensed State: this will describe the basic physical chemical concepts of processes in the condensed state,including electrochemical potentials, structure of liquids, conductivity of electrolytes, colloids and micelles. This is also aimed at achieving an understanding of the physical chemistry which underlies a number of important technologies, namely batteries and fuel cells, colloids and surfactants.

·        Protein Structure and Protein Folding: to discuss the application of basic physical chemistry concepts for describing protein structure and folding and to show how advanced physical chemistry methods are used for investigating these important aspects of proteins.

·        Atmospheric Photochemistry: The aim of this section is to give the students a broad view of the chemistry of the Earth''s atmosphere. The course will describe the structure of the Earth''s atmosphere, its categorisation into different layers and the physical processes that generate this structure. It will describe the different (photo)chemical processes that occur in different regions of the atmosphere, concentrating in particular on the photochemistry of the stratosphere. The course will conclude with a brief comparison of Earth''s atmosphere with that of one or more of the other planets or moons to illustrate the unusual nature of the Earth''s atmosphere.   

Learning Outcomes

Ability to describe and discuss the physical chemistry underlying electrochemical cells, batteries and fuel cells, and to perform fundamental thermodynamic calculations on electrochemical cells.

Ability to apply the physicochemical knowledge gained in the course, including the relevant equations, to solve problems relating to the physical chemistry of the condensed state.

Ability to describe the physical chemistry of surfactants and colloids.

Ability to describe the experimental methods that are used to study protein structure and folding, to discuss their analysis, and to discuss and apply (quantitatively) the physical chemistry principles underlying these methods.

Ability to discuss the importance of protein structure and dynamics for understanding biological processes. 

Ability to analyse a Protein Databank entry and to create graphical representations of the structure of a protein highlighting different aspects.

Ability to describe the physical structure of the atmosphere.

Ability to discuss the chemistry occurring in different layers of the atmosphere and to relate this to thermodynamics and to the physical and chemical behaviour of different layers.

Ability to compare the physical chemistry of the Earth''s atmosphere to extra-terrestrial atmospheres.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Lecture -

Tutorial -

whole group problem classes

Workshop -

VMD sessions


Protein Structure and Protein Folding (8 lectures)

  • Importance of 3D protein structure for function
  • Protein structure classification: Primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary
  • Secondary structural elements: alpha-helix, beta-sheets, turns
  • Ramachandran plot
  • Methods for protein structure determination: diffraction methods, NMR, CD, FTIR/Raman
  • Physical chemistry background: protein crystallisation, diffraction, 2D-NMR, electronic and vibrational spectroscopies
  • Levinthal paradoxon
  • Forces relevant for protein folding; hydrophobic interaction
  • Basic kinetic schemes encountered in protein folding, protein folding models
  • Observing the folding process - initialisation methods:
    rapid mixing, photochemical methods, temperature and pH jumps
  • Observing the folding process - detection:
    Fluorescence, UV/vis-absorbance, CD, FTIR/Raman, NMR

Physical Chemistry of the Condensed Phase (8 lectures)

  • Half cell reactions and standard electrode potentials. Use of the Nernst equation.
  • The electrochemistry of batteries
  • The structure of liquids and properties of electrolyte solutions: Ion-solvent interactions. Examples of ionic hydration energies.
  • The electrochemistry of fuel cells
  • Surface tension and liquid surfaces: surface tension and capillary rise. The principles of surfactants effects.
  • The physical chemistry of colloids and micelles. Structure of colloidal solutions. Origin of colloid stability. Lyophilic and lyophobic colloids. Structure and properties of amphiphilic molecules. Critical micelle concentration.

Atmospheric Photochemistry (8 lectures)

  • Thermodynamic models of a simple planetary atmosphere.
  • Structure of the Earth''s atmosphere.
  • Photochemistry of the stratosphere.
  • Chemistry of the troposphere.
  • Composition of the atmosphere and its development; anthropogenic effects.
  • A comparison with the atmospheres of the other rocky planets or moons.

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 24



Timetable (if known)     whole group problem classes
    VMD sessions
Private Study 121


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Unseen Written Exam  3 hours  Second  75  No reassessment opportunity    Final Exam There is no reassessment opportunity, Notes (applying to all assessments) Extended problem sets/assignments (1): This work is not marked anonymously Assessed tasks for VMD- workshop (2): This work is not marked anonymously. Written Examination: Resit at the next normal opportunity.  
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Coursework  21 hours (7 hours pe  Second  20  No reassessment opportunity  Standard UoL penalty applies  Extended problem sets/assignments There is no reassessment opportunity,  
Practical Assessment  5 hours  Second  No reassessment opportunity  Standard UoL penalty applies  Assessed tasks for VMD-workshop There is no reassessment opportunity,