• Offered by Research School of Chemistry
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Chemistry
  • Areas of interest Chemistry, Materials Science
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

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

Upon successful completion, students will have the 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

  1. Web-based quizzes (25) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]
  2. Laboratory (Prac) Reports (25) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]
  3. Mid-semester Exam (25) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Final Exam (25) [LO 5,6,7,8]

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 expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:

  • Face-to face component which may consist of 3 x 1 hour workshops per week and 8 x 4 hour practical sessions involving computer-based and experimental work across the semester.
  • Approximately 62 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.

Workshops will consist of instructor-assisted problem-solving tasks assigned and completed by groups and individuals within the meeting period. These problem-solving tasks require students to present/discuss their work and comment on others work at physical workshop or using wattle's electronic workshop.

Inherent Requirements

To be determined

Requisite and Incompatibility

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

Prescribed Texts

Atkins, P., de Paula, J., Keeler, James, Atkins' Physical Chemistry, 11th Edition, Oxford University Press, UK (2018).

Preliminary Reading

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.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2024 $4440
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6360
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

There are no current offerings for this course.

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