Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


This course introduces students to the core area of physical chemistry, based around the themes of systems, states and processes. Topics covered are quantum mechanics and structure, chemical thermodynamics, phase changes, and chemical kinetics. Throughout the course, the relationship between physical phenomena and the molecular structure and reactions underpinning advanced materials will be highlighted. This content is designed to complement other 2000 level Chemistry courses which have a synthetic focus. The laboratory component provides training in a range of theoretical and applied physical chemistry techniques which are relevant to both industrial and research settings.

A good understanding of physical chemistry is important to students intending to complete a major or minor study in chemistry, and will also be valuable for students studying engineering.



  • Semester 2 - 2022

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Explain and apply concepts of physical chemistry;

2. Explain the broad role of the chemist and chemical engineer in physical chemical measurements and processes;

3. Solve problems in physical chemistry by using appropriate methodologies;

4. Demonstrate procedures and methods applied in analytical, computational and practical tasks of physical chemistry;

5. Apply the scientific process in the design, conduct, evaluation and reporting of experimental investigations;

6. Assess and mitigate risks when working with chemicals and hazardous substances;

7. Contribute to team and group work for scientific investigation and reporting;

8. Independently integrate qualitative and quantitative concepts of physical chemistry.


The course involves study of:

Quantum Mechanics and Structure: 

  • Principles of quantum mechanics
  • Atomic structure
  • Molecular structure and bonding

Chemical Thermodynamics:  

  • First and second laws              
  • Gibbs free energy 
  • Chemical potentials  
  • Chemical equilibria

Phase Changes:  

  • Phases and components  
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Electrochemical systems
  • Ions in solution

Chemical Kinetics:  

  • First and second order reactions  
  • Integrated rate laws  
  • Reaction rate theories  
  • Steady state approximation  
  • Chain reactions  
  • Catalysis


Students must have completed MATH1002 or MATH1110 or MATH1120 or MATH01210 or MATH1220 to enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge

CHEM1010 and CHEM1020

Assessment items

Formal Examination: Formal exam *

Written Assignment: Written assignments

Report: Workshop & Laboratory reports *

* This assessment has a compulsory requirement.

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Laboratory: There is a compulsory attendance requirement in this course. - Students must attend at least 90% of the lab sessions. Students who will not meet the compulsory requirement will be given the opportunity to make up upon presentation of an evidence of misadventure.
  • Laboratory: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions.

Course Assessment Requirements:

  • Report: Attempt / Submission Requirement - Students must attempt/submit this assessment item to pass the course.
  • Report: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course. - Students must submit all reports and obtain an overall mark of at least 50% to pass the course.
  • Formal Examination: Minimum Grade / Mark Requirement - Students must obtain a specified minimum grade / mark in this assessment item to pass the course. - Students must obtain a minimum passing grade of 40% in the final, end-of-semester examination for the course.

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.