CHEM30320 Chemical Thermodynamics & Physical Transformations

Academic Year 2022/2023

Building upon physical chemistry topics introduced in earlier modules, this module provides a comprehensive presentation of the key concepts in statistical and classical thermodynamics, based on an "atoms first" approach. New concepts are introduced alongside the relevant mathematics, providing a rigorous understanding of thermodynamics concepts, as it applies to chemistry, from first principles. Applications of thermodynamics and physical transformation (e.g. in metallurgy and battery development) and relevant area of emerging research (e.g. the applications of super-critical fluids) are also discussed.

The Energy Levels of Atoms and Molecules: Quantization of energy; electronic, translational, rotational and vibrational energies,

The Boltzmann Factor and Partition Functions: Probability; ensemble energy; electronic, translational, vibrational, rotational, molecular and system partition functions; statistical molecular energy.

The First Law: Heat, work and pressure (classical and statistical); state and path functions; reversible processes; enthalpy; heat capacity.

The Second and Third Laws: Entropy, and spontaneity, entropy temperature dependence, heat flow and heat engines, statistical entropy.

Helmholtz and Gibbs Energy: Derivation of Gibbs and Helmholtz energies; natural variables; the Maxwell relations; statistical Gibbs and Helmholtz energies.

Physical Transformation: Chemical potential; phase change, phase diagrams and phase boundaries; Clausius-Clapeyron equation.

Mixtures: Ideal and non-ideal solutions; Raoult and Henry's laws; liquid-liquid and liquid-solid solutions; colligative properties.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

The ability to: understand the dispersal of energy and the origin of the spontaneity of physical and chemical change; define the property of entropy in thermodynamic terms and describe it from a statistical viewpoint; understand that entropy is a state function; Describe the entropy changes that accompany specific processes such as expansion, phase transition, and heating.

The ability to: understand the criteria for spontaneity in terms of the properties of the Helmholtz energy and the Gibbs energy; use the Gibbs energy to express the spontaneity of a process in terms of the properties of a system; use the Gibbs energy to predict the maximum non-expansion work that a system can do; use the fact that the Gibbs energy is a state function to find relations between system properties in terms of Maxwell relations.

The ability to: describe the use of phase diagrams as a means to discuss the thermodynamic description of the stabilities and transformations of one or more phases; describe the characteristic properties of phase transitions; apply the phase rule to explain phase stability and equilibria between phases for systems involving more than one component; describe the thermodynamic aspects of phase transitions with reference to the dependence of stability on conditions such as temperature and pressure and to the location of phase boundaries

The ability to: describe mixtures of substances in thermodynamic terms using the class of properties known as partial molar quantities; describe the thermodynamics of mixing; apply the concept of the chemical potential of a substance to describe the physical properties of liquid mixtures.

The ability to: understand how Raoult’s and Henry’s laws may be used to express the chemical potential of a substance in terms of its mole fraction in a mixture; understand the effect of a solute on the thermodynamic properties of a solution, e.g. the lowering of vapour pressure of the solvent, the elevation of its boiling point, the depression of its freezing point, and the origin of osmotic pressure.

The ability to; explain the relationship between Gibbs Free Energy and equilibrium; describe the relevance of equilibrium to simple electrochemical systems. use the Nernst equation to predict the energy generated by simple Galvanic cells.

The ability to; employ statistical thermodynamics to understand the distribution of molecular states by considering configurations and weights; derive the Boltzmann distribution and use it to predict the populations of states in systems at thermal equilibrium; define what is meant by the molecular partition function, interpret it, and, in certain simple cases, calculate it; describe how thermodynamic information, such as the internal energy or the statistical entropy of a system, may be extracted from the partition function; employ the partition function to obtain any thermodynamic function, for example, the Helmholtz energy, the pressure, the enthalpy, the Gibbs energy, for a system; factorize the molecular partition function into a product of translational, rotational, vibrational and electronic contributions.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
A combination of lectures to introduce key concepts, workshops to reinforce and practice the underpinning mathematics, and laboratory sessions to demonstrate how key thermodynamic properties can be measured. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

CHEM20080 Basis of Physical Chemistry AND CHEM20120 Physical Chemistry (Level 2) of Atoms and Molecules or equivalent

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Continuous assessment during semester Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Lab Report: Continuous assessment of laboratory work Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Examination: Written examination 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be provided after in-class tests and on lab reports. One-to-one feedback can be sought through meeting the relevant lecturer.

Name Role
Ms Shekemi Denuga Tutor