Physical Chemistry I--CHEM 3411

Students to be Served: This is an upper divisional physical chemistry course which is required for students who want to pursue B.S. Chem. or B.S. degrees in chemistry, but is optional for students preparing for medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and related health professions.


  • MATH 1830 or 1910 with a grade of at least C-
  • PHYS 2020/2021 or 2120/2121 with a grade of at least C-

Description: This course will cover fundamentals of thermodynamics and kinetics and their application in chemical and biological systems and possible selected topics in the area of surface chemistry, spectroscopy, and macromolecules.
Three lecture hours per week

Textbooks and other materials:

  • Atkins & de Paula, Elements of Physical Chemistry, 7th ed. (required)
  • Associated ancillary online textbook components at this link
  • Other readings as assigned in eCourseware

Course Goals: Students will learn the fundamental principles of thermodynamics and kinetics and their application to chemical and biological systems. Students will be familiar with concepts such as internal energy, enthalpy, entropy, and free energy and use these concepts to predict/understand phase transitions, chemical equilibrium, solution properties, etc. Students will also learn the factors controlling the rate of change and be able to approach various complex chemical reaction kinetics. While classical thermodynamics provides primarily a macroscopic view of chemical properties, energetics, and reactivities, we will also consider the microscopic view of chemical properties and behavior, introducing elementary concepts from quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics, whose full development is reserved for future courses.


Example Course Outline:

  • Properties of Gases

  • First Law of Thermodynamics and Thermochemistry
  • Second Law of Thermodynamics and Free Energy
  • Physical Transformations of Pure Substances
  • Properties of Solutions
  • Chemical Equilibrium
  • Rates of Chemical Reactions
  • Molecules in motion
  • The rate of chemical reaction and chemical kinetics

Grades: A comprehensive final examination will be administered in class at the assigned time. At least one test will be administered in class and graded before the last day to drop. Other tests, quizzes, and graded assignments, weighting, and grade ranges are at the discretion of the instructor.


  • Electronic devices such as cell phones and pagers should be turned off in the classroom.
  • Reasonable and appropriate accommodations will be made for students who present a memo from Student Disability Services.
  • Class attendance is expected.

Instructor Homepages
Dr. William Alexander
Dr. Yongmei Wang

On-line Resources
None currently