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Unit information: Introductory Chemistry for Chemical Physicists in 2019/20

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Introductory Chemistry for Chemical Physicists
Unit code CHEM10005
Credit points 40
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Chris Russell
Open unit status Not open

A-Level Chemistry or its equivalent; A-Level Mathematics or its equivalent



School/department School of Chemistry
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit introduces and explores key fundamental themes used throughout chemistry. It aims to do so in a qualitative way to focus on the broad ideas and implications. Key ideas include orbitals, energy, quantisation and bonding, why reactions happen, shapes of molecules, mechanisms, rates of reaction and measurements. It will also develop themes in the areas of main group chemistry, spectroscopy and thermodynamics. Key topics include periodicity, solid-state chemistry, quantum mechanics, vibrational and rotational spectroscopy, forces and supramolecular interactions.

This unit aims to introduce students to fundamental ideas in chemistry which will be developed throughout their studies. The implications of these fundamental ideas are illustrated with real world examples to set them in context and highlight their relevance in the modern scientific world.

Units aims:

To provide students with a broad and balanced appreciation of key chemical concepts

To provide students with an appreciation of key concepts in physical and inorganic chemistry

Intended learning outcomes

  • Explain energy quantization, energy levels, and their connection to spectra
  • Discuss quantum numbers of electrons in an atom
  • Predict the shape of covalently bonded molecules, and name (systematic and trivial) functional groups and organic molecules
  • Predict the geometry, name and draw the isomers of organic and inorganic complexes
  • Define the terms electrophile, nucleophile, acid and base and an explain their roles within a reaction
  • Use curly arrow representation to indicate electron flow and therefore mechanism
  • Discuss the relationship between structures and spectra
  • Recognise the limitations/extent of information obtained from each spectroscopic method (both qualitative and/or quantitative)
  • Recognise periodicity and its implications to structure and bonding
  • Describe lattices and the structure of solids
  • Discuss the Schrodinger equation, wavefunctions and quantization
  • Explain spectroscopy as transition between states: Rotational and vibrational states
  • Explain non-bonded interactions and compare them to conventional bonding
  • Importance of non-bonded interactions in gases, liquids and large molecules
  • Discuss entropy and its relation to spontaneous change
  • Explain the formation of chemical equilibria and phase behaviour
  • Recognise the interrelationship between all branches of chemistry and between theory and applications

Teaching details

Lectures, small group tutorials, workshops (classes of 20 students with two staff members) and independent study. A small amount of pre-tutorial online material will be provided to assist students with tutorial work. Self test multiple choice questions.

Assessment Details

1-hour exam (Multiple choice questions, computer based, 100% formative delivered in TB1)

One 2-hour written exam in TB2 (100% summative)

Reading and References

Essential reading will be from the following books:

Atkins’ Physical Chemistry, 10th Edition, P W Atkins and J de Paula, Oxford University Press 2014.

Organic Chemistry, 2nd Edition, J Clayden, N Greeves, S Warren, Oxford University Press, 2012.

Inorganic Chemistry 6th Edition, M Weller, T Overton, J Rourke and F Armstrong, Oxford University Press 2014.

Further reading from Periodicity in the s- and p-block Elements, N C Norman, Oxford Primer, 1997.