Course Syllabus


“Physical Chemistry”

Course Description:

Physical Chemistry is a foundational course at Tongji School of Pharmcy, HUST. It is a very broad subject, and plays an important role in the understanding of core theories in pharmaceutical sciences, particularly for pharmaceutics, physical organics, computational drug design and development, etc.This introductory course of physical chemistry includes laboratory practices and covers chemical thermodynamicsand chemical kinetics.

Credit Hour:

Theory: 64 Hours; Laboratoryexperiments: 32 Hours.


The prerequisites are algebra,calculus of single variable functions, general chemistry.


Peter Atkins, Julio De Paula,Atkins’ Physical Chemistry (7th edition), Oxford University Press, New York, 2002; Photocopied by High Education Press, Beijing, 2006.

Course Objectives:

After completing this course, students should be able to carry out mathematical calculations based on fundamental physical chemistry concepts and definitions, through which they could evaluate heat effect of chemical reactions, determine physical properties of phase transitions as well as predict the direction of chemical or physical processes. After participating laboratory experiments students should be familiar with tools used by physical chemists and be able to perform data processing and error analysis.

Content Outline:

  1. First law in thermodynamics
    1. Basic concepts:
      1. system, surroundings
      2. heat, work, property, state function, heat capacity
      3. reversible/irreversible process
      4. standard enthalpy of formation; standard enthalpy of combustion
    2. Volume work calculations
      1. questions analysis (converting valuable information to simplified boxes)
      2. mathematical manipulation of volume work’s equation under various conditions
    3. Method of state function
      1. state, state function, change of state function
      2. process, Q and W of a process
      3. building thermodynamic cycle
    4. Heat effect of chemical reaction
      1. calculations with standard enthalpy of formation
      2. calculations with standard enthalpy of combustion
      3. Hess’s law; Kirchhoff’s law
  2. Second law in thermodynamics
    1. spontaneous process
    2. efficiency of heat engine
      1. heat engine
      2. Carnot cycle
      3. efficiency of Carnot heat engine
    3. entropy, Helmholtz free energy, Gibbs free energy
      1. rules for predicting direction of spontaneous process
      2. physical meaning of entropy
      3. calculations of ΔS, ΔF, ΔG
  3. Chemical kinetics
    1. mathematical expressions of chemical reaction rate
    2. rate constant, activation energy
    3. reaction order
  4. Laboratory experiments
    1. Measurement of the heat of solvation
    2. Determination of rate constant for the hydrolysis reaction of sucrose
    3. Determination of rate constant for the saponification of ethyl acetate
    4. Kinetics and mechanism of the iodine-acetone reaction


Homework will be assigned on most days. A final examination covers the entire course. The score for this course consists of marks from homework (5%), laboratory experiment (30%), attendance (15%), and final examination (50%).