Module code: CHE2025

Module Overview

This module is a FHEQ level 5 course that builds on level 4 to inform, analyse and stimulate enquiry into Intermediate topics in Physical Chemistry. It features phases and equilibria, fundamentals spectroscopy, surfactants, colloids and emulsions and hands-on experience of a range of experimental techniques.

Module provider


Module Leader

WATSON DJ Dr (Chemistry)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: F170

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

A knowledge of Physical Chemistry to FHEQ Level 4

Module content

Liquids and Solutions

Raoults and Henry’s law. 3rd law of thermodynamics. Vapour pressure and ideal dilute solutions. Activity and activity coefficients. Debye-Hückel theory. Ideal mixing. Miscibility of liquids Colligative properties. Elevation of boiling point. Depression of freezing point. Osmosis. Chemical potential. Phase diagrams. Separation of liquids by fractional distillation, azeotropes, eutectics.


Surfactant and Interface Chemistry

Kinetics of water pollution; biodegradable surfactants; micellar extraction; micro emulsions; reactions in pores.

Adsorption processes: wetting, spreading, adhesion.  Oil recovery.

Surface-active agents.  Surfactants.  Gibbs adsorption equation.  Surface and interfacial tension.  Surfactant behaviour.  Liquid crystals.

Emulsions - types, stability.

Colloid stability.  DVLO theory.  Types of colloid.  Lyophilic colloid formation.  Nucleation and growth.

Colloids in the environment.  Importance of aggregation phenomena.


Hückel theory and its application to cyclic and linear polyenes. Secular equations and determinant. Delocalisation, bond order, and electronic spectroscopy.


The theory of molecular spectroscopy

Rotational spectroscopy (microwave spectra). Rotors, moments of inertia, isotope effects, centrifugal distortion, selection rules.

Vibrational spectroscopy (infrared). Anharmonicity, normal mode vs. local (group) mode. Fine structure in vibrational transitions.

Raman spectra. Selection rules. Rotational and vibrational transitions. Raman vs. IR.

Electronic spectra (UV-visible). Electronic energy levels. Electronic transitions and dissociation energies. Franck-Condon principle. Photoelectron spectroscopy and Koopman’s theorem.

Practical work on a range of topics including:

IR spectroscopy of various physical states; kinetics of bromination; ternary phase diagrams; UV-Vis spectroscopy.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination EXAM - 1.5 HOURS 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

experimental, analysis and quantitative skills (practicals)

understanding, analysis and recall (unseen examination)


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Written unseen examination (1.5 hours) 70%

3 Assessed practical write-ups (30% total), deadlines (4pm Tuesdays of each week following the practical session – normally first five weeks of Semester 2)


Formative assessment and feedback

Formative assessment and feedback are provided throughout the module in the form of in-class exercises, examples and worked problems. Feedback is instant as model answers (full worked solutions) are given in class. Formative assessment is also evident through the provision of ‘checklists’ at the end of each section of the module that detail the areas covered in that part of the course.

Detailed and individualised feedback is given on the marked assignments within the time allowed for marking coursework.

The first two weeks of the practical sessions are marked formatively and will be returned before the deadline for summative work to be submitted.


Module aims

  • Appreciation of the physical properties and thermodynamics of liquids and solutions
  • Understanding of the fundamentals of bonding and spectroscopy.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Have a critical understanding of the basic principles of solution, phase equilibria thermodynamics and liquid surfaces KC
2 Differentiate between and evaluate the different types of intermolecular interactions KC
3 Apply the principles of quantum mechanics to covalent bonding KC
4 Perform elementary analyses of molecular orbitals and their energies as calculated in Huckel theory KC
5 Understand the quantum mechanical basis of rotational, vibrational, Raman and electron (uv-visible) spectroscopic techniques, and calculate molecular information from spectra. KC

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 81

Lecture Hours: 33

Tutorial Hours: 2

Laboratory Hours: 30

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Build on the foundation of Physical Chemistry from Level 4 to be able to apply Physical Chemistry knowledge and reasoning to areas of topical, industrial and societal importance.


The learning and teaching methods include:

28 formal lectures of 1hr, normally 3 per week, and coursework based on material covered in the lectures

3 small-group tutorials

40 hours of practical laboratory experience

Lectures will include discussion and interaction where appropriate.  Course material will be provided on SurreyLearn, including calculational tools.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Chemistry MChem 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation MChem 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Medicinal Chemistry MChem 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Medicinal Chemistry BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2018/9 academic year.