CHM3911 - Advanced physical chemistry - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Chemistry

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Philip Wai Hong Chan


Dr Boon Mian Teo

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (On-campus)


CHM2922. Students without this should consult the third year coordinator.


Physical chemistry provides insight into the fundamental reason that chemical systems and materials behave the way they do. This unit gives students an advanced understanding of the properties and characteristics of solids, liquids and gases from a fundamental level - utilising computation of individual atoms and bonds - right through to applied systems such as colloids and surfactants, relevant to minerals, food and formulation. The course follows a natural progression from atomic and molecular properties at a single atom or bond level through key thermodynamics to the properties of chemical systems, such as viscosity, phase behaviour and the interactions between solids and liquids. The final section deals with surfaces and colloids - key to understanding important chemical systems in Australian science and industry, due to their ubiquity in minerals processing, food and dairy industries, energy and oil, pharmaceuticals, water and waste processing.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Comprehend the basic concepts of computational chemistry and become proficient in the "hands-on" use of specific computational chemistry software.
  2. Develop assessment skills of reliability and accuracy of computational chemistry methods for a chemical problem at hand.
  3. Become proficient in the applications of the four laws of thermodynamics.
  4. Learn about the connections between kinetics and thermodynamics of chemical reactions.
  5. Understand how chemical rate analysis is performed, and analyse the kinetics of advanced chemical processes.
  6. Apply key concepts related to the fundamental physical chemistry of solids, liquids and gases.
  7. Develop an understanding of phase diagrams and phase behaviour, and how this is related to the interactions between atoms/molecules.
  8. Rationalise the key processes that occur at - and differences between - interfaces between solids, liquids and gases.
  9. Understand the wetting of solid surfaces, how this controls colloidal systems, and how kinetics of adsorption can be analysed.
  10. Explore colloidal systems involving solid particles, liquid droplets and gas bubbles.
  11. Rationalise the molecular basis for surfactant behaviour and the uses of surfactant-based systems including liquid crystals.


Examination (2 hours): 40% (Hurdle)

Mid-semester test, assignments and computer testing: 30%

Laboratory work and short laboratory reports and pro forma reports: 30% (Hurdle)

To pass this unit a student must achieve a minimum score of 50% in the laboratory practical component and a minimum of 30% for the end-of-semester exam.

Supplementary assessment is not available for the lab practical component.

Workload requirements

Two 1-hour workshops, one hour directed independent study and the equivalent of 3 hours of laboratory activity per week

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study