Module code: CHEM040

Module Overview

This module builds on levels 4 and 5 physical chemistry (but also on spectroscopy, inorganic modules and maths) to inform, analyse and stimulate enquiry into Physical Chemistry research in problems of relevance to industry and the environment. It features green chemistry, catalysis, surface science, nanomaterials and photochemistry.

Module provider

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Module Leader

CARTA Daniela (Chst Chm Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 84

Lecture Hours: 29

Tutorial Hours: 4

Guided Learning: 4

Captured Content: 29

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Green, Atmospheric and Catalyst Chemistry

The twelve principles of green chemistry; photochemistry and kinetics of green chemistry; photoelectrolysis and photocatalysis.

Atmospheric reactions and pollution; air pollution control kinetics; kinetics of consecutive reactions, greenhouse gases.

Surface Science

Solids (metallic, ionic and molecular). Surfaces. Surface crystallography: X-ray based spectroscopic techniques.

Physical adsorption, chemisorption and sticking probabilities. Thermodynamic parameters. Langmuir isotherm. Lindemann-Hinshelwood, Langmuir-Hinshelwood and Eley-Rideal mechanisms. Heterogeneous catalysis in process, food, environmental of forensic chemistry. Homogeneous catalysis. Enzymic catalysis


Synthesis: bottom-up and top-down approaches. Zero-dimensional nanostructures: nanoparticles. One-dimensional nanostructures: nanowires and nanotubes. Two-dimensional nanostructures: thin films. Porous nanomaterials. Sol-gel synthesis of mesoporous silica. Surface area determination and pore analysis using gas adsorption. Examples of applications in biomedical research.

Fundamentals of Computational Chemistry for Chemists

Introduction to the most common computational methods in Chemistry, including: Molecular Dynamics (MD, Hartree-Fock (HF) and Density Functional theory (DFT).

The course will mainly focus on the physicochemical concepts behind these methods instead of providing formal mathematical derivations.


Beer-Lambert Law; Frank-Condon principle; fates of photochemically excited molecules; fluorescence; phosphorescence; internal conversion’ intersystem crossing; Jabblonski Diagrams; Quantum yields, fluorescence lifetimes and ‘natural lifetimes’, quenching; Stern-Volmer equation; delayed fluorescence; Fermi’s golden rule and intermolecular processes. Photochemistry and Kinetics.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 1 10
Coursework COURSEWORK 2 10
Examination Examination (2H) 80

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to allow students to demonstrate:

  • research, analysis and quantitative skills appropriate to level 7 studies (coursework) [LOs 1-6]

 • understanding, analysis and recall appropriate to level 7 studies (unseen examination) [LOs 1-6]

    Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  Coursework 1: Assessment of knowledge of course content from the first half of the course through open end questions. [LOs assessed 1, 4]

  Coursework 2:  Assessment of knowledge of course content from the first half of the course through open end question [LOs assessed 4,6]

  Examination (2 hours) 80%. It covers the full range if the material discussed in lectures and tutorials, and their application to physical chemistry problem solving appropriate to level 6 [LOs assessed: aspects of LOs not already assessed in the coursework]

    Formative assessment

Formative assessment and feedback are provided throughout the module in the form of in-class exercises, examples and worked problems.  In particular, formative feedback is provided in small groups tutorials where pre-set problems are discussed in preparation for the final exam.

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. (LO 1-6),


Oral feedback is provided for the duration of the module with students encouraged to ask questions and engage during lectures and tutorials. Feedback is instant as model answers (full worked solutions) in tutorials and exercises in lectures. 

MCQ are provided when appropriate to enhance students learning and provide immediate feedback on Surrey Learn.

 Detailed and individualised written feedback is given on the marked assignments within the time allowed for marking coursework. (LO 1-6)

Module aims

  • To apply chemical kinetics in environmental and catalytic chemistry, including relevant parts of surface science.
  • To apply advanced spectroscopic techniques to chemically relevant/ industrial problems.
  • To apply photochemical excitation and decay processes to molecules.
  • To understand structure, properties and applications of nanomaterials and their applications.
  • To understand some fundamental applications of computational chemistry.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Evaluate and give a detailed and critical account of the kinetics of physical processes in green, atmospheric and catalytic chemistry; KCT
002 Evaluate and give a detailed and critical account of the applications of and advances in the area of surface science KCP
003 Evaluate and give a detailed and critical account of aspects of advanced spectroscopic techniques KCPT
004 Explain and give a detailed and critical account of the processes involved in photochemistry and the excitation of molecules by photons. KCT
005 Explain and give a detailed and critical account of processes involving nanomaterial preparation KCP
006 Explain and give a critical account of different computational chemistry methods KCP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to ensure that students achieve the modules learning outcomes.


Students will build on the foundation of Physical Chemistry learnt in previous modules (CHE1040, CHE1043, CHE1042, CHE2040, CHE2035, CHE2042, CHE3045) from Levels 4-6 to be able to apply Physical Chemistry knowledge reasoning to areas of topical, industrial and societal importance, including current research. 

Students will be able to develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills appropriate for level 7 learning.



To achieve the above, the learning and teaching methods include:

 A) Formal lectures.  Discussion and interaction will be part of the sessions where appropriate to enhance students’ engagement. Description of novel advanced technologies and state-of-the-art characterisation techniques (e.g. synchrotron-based) will be included to provide students with unique professional skills addressed to enhance employability. The lectures will introduce and explain key physical chemistry concepts, theories and practical applications. (LO 1-6)

 Tutorials. These sessions are reserved for active students learning to enhance understanding. Interactive, active tasks are included in the tutorials such as reviewing covered material and problem-solving exercises. Students are encouraged to actively participate to the sessions (to build confidence) and discuss in small groups the assigned exercises (to enhance team working skills). Where appropriate, students can receive feedback from peers in class, followed by feedback from the lecturer.(LO 1-6)

 Independent learning. This would be assisted by recommended reading material and encouragement to work on pre-assigned MCQ on Surrey learn. This would support the development of students’ understanding and time management skills and encourage students to work independently and favors critical thinking and problem solving.  (LO 1-6)


 Course material (including power point slides, pre-recorded or Panopto recorded lectures, MCQ) is provided to students on SurreyLearn, including calculational tools. Teaching and learning strategy is designed to develop students’ confidence, independence, teamwork, employability and professionalism. (LO 1-6)

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
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: CHEM040

Other information

The School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:


Throughout the course, students are equipped with knowledge on:

  • Industrially relevant environmental and catalytic processes. They are made aware of the industrial sources of pollution and of cutting-edge methods that are used to monitor and reduce them. They apply this knowledge to report on and problem-solve certain aspects of the chemical industry.


  • Nanomaterials, (nanotubes, thin films and porous scaffolds). Students are introduced to a wide range of synthetic processes including clean room based (microelectronics and advanced manufacturing) and state-of-the art tools/technologies and advanced in material processing.


  • Photochemical applications relevant to medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutical applications. Through formal lectures and class discussions students are also made aware of the fundamental processes involved in fluorescence imaging techniques used for characterisation of biological systems.


Students are equipped with knowledge that is key to the role of a scientist in a wide variety of professions, in terms of mathematical skills, knowledge of physical chemistry and material science. The two coursework assessments undertaken during the year are designed to to further develop and apply critical thinking and technical skills related to catalysis, spectroscopy, nanomaterials and photochemistry that are fundamental for their future career.





Throughout the module, students are introduced to physical processes involved in green and environmental chemistry; they are encouraged to critically think about the consequences of


Students are exposed to real-life problems which will allow them to develop critical skills in the application of catalytic techniques.


Through the knowledge of a wide range of synthetic processes, materials (colloids and nano)  students are able to recognise the importance of green and sustainable chemistry in the modern world and make critical decisions on the best process to be used.


Digital capabilities


¿Sections of the course module require the introduction to, training with and use of surface characterisation online tool FHI-Surface Explorer. FHI-Surface Explorer is a website-based crystal structure / surface structure generator that allows the students to visualise the atomic structures of the surfaces taught during lectures.  Students are shown in class how to use the program so they can practice in their own time. At the end of the course the students should be familiar with this software and be able to use it to generate the required surface structures.

Students are introduced to advanced digital capabilities such as use of Monte Carlo modelling and density Functional theory. These provide students with a solid foundation of computer science modelling which students will apply in an industrial scenario.






Resourcefulness and resilience

Throughout the module the students are tasked with completing summative coursework that requires them to do their own research and deeper reading into particular aspects of the module. The coursework requires a high level of resourcefulness and resilience, in finding the correct sources, and time management to submit by the deadline.


Students will be supported to develop their resourcefulness and demonstrate their resilience in the tutorials, where they will have the opportunityto ask critical questions and to self-reflect on their own independent work. Students are also enocouraged to discuss the work with their peers, building/enhancing their communications skills and contribute to group discussion. Students are also expected to be actively involved in problem solving during the sessions and discuss with peers/academic in charge, developing confidence.


Unseen questions are also offered to students to encourage them to engage in the process of trial and error and solve unexpected challenging problems. In particular mind maps are given as part of the coursework assignment to develop association between concept and enhance creative problem solving and support learning by showing how different topics / facts are linked.


Global and Cultural capabilities

Students (in particular underrepresented categories in STEM) would be encouraged to consider a research pathway in Physical/Materials Chemistry  (environment, spectroscopy, materials science and advanced characterisation) during module delivery


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Chemistry MChem 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation MChem 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Medicinal Chemistry MChem 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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 2025/6 academic year.