• Offered by Research School of Chemistry
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Chemistry
  • Areas of interest Chemistry
  • Academic career Undergraduate
  • Course convener
    • Prof Edith Sevick
  • Mode of delivery Blended
  • Offered in Second Semester 2017
    See Future Offerings

Physical chemistry aims to understand the structure, properties and transformations of matter, from bulk behavior down to mechanisms at the molecular level. It is the role of the physical chemist to collect, collate and analyze experimental data from all branches of chemistry and to construct predictive models. As such, physical chemistry underlies much of modern science and is a motor driving advances in a very wide range of fields. Building on information and concepts from chemistry, physics and mathematics, physical chemistry contributes to and is stimulated by areas as diverse as medicine, molecular biology, biochemistry, molecular engineering, chemical engineering, materials science and earth sciences." (Société Francaise de Chimie - Division de Chimie Physique)

The course will provide the foundations of physical chemistry, with a strong focus on developing a skill base necessary for the construction, analysis, and interpretation of experimental data, as well as a practical understanding and use of predictive models.

Learning Outcomes

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have gained knowledge and skills to:
1. Predict and measure/analyse bulk properties of gases and liquids using equilibrium thermodynamics.

2. Understand and assess the fundamental operation of a machine driven by chemical processes, using the Second Law.

3. Predict equilibrium transitions and recognise/analyse these transitions in both natural and engineered systems, using equilibrium free energies.  These transitions include gas-liquid-solid transitions in single component systems, as well as in multiple component systems, and the partition of components between co-existing phases.

4. Understand the limit of classical descriptions of light and matter and the subsequent role of quantum mechanical descriptions in physical chemistry.

5. Calculate and analyse the translational, rotational and vibrational motion of microscopic particles using simple quantum mechanical models.

6.Predict, using models of simple atoms and molecules, the arrangement  of electrons and their motion as revealed in experimental spectroscopy.

7.  Use quantitative, predictive models for diffusion, viscosity, and thermal conductivity, and verify with measurement.  Understand the role of physical transport of mass, heat, and momentum in a chemical context.

8. Quantitatively analyse kinetics of reactions involving mechanisms which are consecutive and competitive, as well as more complex mechanisms.

Indicative Assessment

Assessment is aligned with goals described in the course Learning Outcomes. Quizzes and exams will assess attainment of learning outcomes associated with skills in understanding, prediction and analysis; whilst laboratory reports will assess attainment of measurement and analysis skills.

• Web-based quizzes (10%): LO 1-8
• Laboratory (Prac) Reports (30%):  LO 1-8
• Mid-semester Exam (30%): LO 1-4
• Final Exam (30%): LO 5-8

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The student's load is divided into instructor-assisted and independent work, totalling to 62 hours over the semester, which is consistent with other 6-credit courses offered in chemistry.  The instructor-assisted workload consists of  

•  maximum 3 x 50-minute pwk  (12 weeks) of instructor-assisted problem-solving tasks assigned and completed by groups and individuals within the meeting period.  

•  8 x 4-hour practical sessions involving experimental laboratory work.  

The student's independent workload consists of

•  maximum 3 x 50-minute pwk (12 weeks) of video lectures, including timed quizzes and activities.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed CHEM1101 and CHEM1201.

Prescribed Texts

Atkins, P., de Paula, J., Atkins' Physical Chemistry, 10th Edition, Oxford University Press, UK (2014).

Preliminary Reading

Burrows, A, Holman, J., Parsons, A., Pilling, G., Price, G., "Chemistry3: introducing inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, Oxford University Press, UK (2009).  

This is the general chemistry text used in ANU's first year chemistry course or comparable text.

Indicative Reading List

Optional or extension materials such as short articles from newspapers, popular science magazines, and scholarly journals, will be provided on Wattle.

Assumed Knowledge

Required Skills: Secondary-education level algebra

Recommended Skills: introductory calculus, specifically differentiation and integration of a function (although these skills will not be assumed and revision will be available).


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Band 2
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $3444
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4590
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings and Dates

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery
9876 24 Jul 2017 31 Jul 2017 31 Aug 2017 27 Oct 2017 In Person

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