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F323 Chemical Physics

Chemical Physics is an area of modern chemistry that will fascinate students who enjoy the science common to physics and chemistry and can be taken to a high level by those with a mathematical background. Advanced topics will include quantum mechanics and computational chemistry. Research projects often span the disciplines of chemistry and physics: for example astrochemistry or nanotechnology.

Although the Chemical Physics degrees are based on the core chemistry courses, there is more scope to develop skills in physics and theoretical aspects of chemistry. To this end either inorganic chemistry or organic chemistry is omitted after the first year in favour of mathematics, physics and specialist chemical physics courses.

Students take a total of four courses units per year with many courses being half units. For each year of study a student undertakes a number of core (compulsory) units, together with a number of optional chemistry courses and further options al courses from outside the department.

Details for each year are given below. The BSc and MSci differ in the third year and there is a description of the third year given as a separate item. The main differences are that BSc students do less practical work and the Literature Project is optional.

Note that optional units are subject to changes as new areas of chemistry are introduced intro the curriculum or are developed by new staff.

Year 1

Introduction to Chemical Principles (CHEM1004, 1 unit, core)

The aims of CHEM1004 are to lay the foundations of the 3 main branches of chemistry for all of the subsequent courses in the Department. The course material is linked to, but extends considerably, A-level chemistry and related courses.

A laboratory course is included to reinforce key skills.

Topics will include:

  • Atomic structure and bonding
  • Atomic spectroscopy
  • Fundamentals of Organic Mechanisms and Stereochemistry
  • Interfaces between the sciences.

Basic Physical Chemistry (CHEM1301, 0.5 unit , core)

The aim of this course is to introduce students to gases through the kinetic theory of gases, and to the description and interpretation of chemical systems using quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and thermodynamics.

Topics:

  • Kinetic theory of gases.
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Statistical thermodynamics and thermodynamics

Basic Organic Chemistry (CHEM1201, 0.5 unit, core)

To provide a general understanding of organic chemistry and a knowledge of basic organic reactions. The structure, conformation and stereochemistry of organic compounds, as well as their reactions will be studied. A basic  understanding of the fundamental principles of organic chemistry and the synthesis and reactivity of the most important functional groups in organic compounds will be developed.

Topics:

  • Fundamental concepts of organic chemistry
  • Alkanes
  • Alkenes
  • Alkynes
  • Alkyl halides
  • Preparation of alcohols
  • Ethers and Epoxides
  • Structure and Preparation of Aldehydes and Ketones
  • Reactions of Aldehydes and Ketones
  • Preparation of Nitrogen-containing Compounds
  • Carboxylic Acids and their Derivatives
  • Review of Key Principles; How to apply Knowledge of Organic Chemistry

Basic Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM1101, 0.5 unit, core)

The aim of this course is to introduce students to key aspects of inorganic chemistry, including solid state structures, the chemistry of phosphorus and hydrogen, and transition metal chemistry. The laboratory course provides training and experience in practical aspects of inorganic chemistry, including synthesis, qualitative, IR spectroscopy, and powder X-ray diffraction. Topics:

  • Transition Metals
  • Solid State Chemistry
  • Chemistry and Periodicity of Group 15 elements

Mathematics for Science 1 (MATH6105, 0.5 unit, core)

The course presents the type of mathematics useful in physical sciences. It focuses on revising and extending A-level work, aimed at those with a high pass (A or B) in A level mathematics.

Mathematics for Science 2 (MATH6106, 0.5 unit, core)

The traditional title for this course is Advanced Calculus and Geometry. Building on the material covered in 6105, it provides a foundation course in 3-dimensional geometry, calculus of several variables, differential operators and eigenvalue problems. 

Atoms, Stars and the Universe (PHAS1202, 0.5 unit, core)

This course aims to give first-year Physics-related and Astronomy-related students an overview of modern ideas. They should meet, in an accessible form, the ideas of quantum mechanics, and acquire a broad view of the origin and evolution of the Universe as it is currently understood.

Year 2

Physical Chemistry (CHEM2301, 1 unit, core)

The aims of this course are to develop further quantum mechanics and thermodynamics and to extend the material of CHEM1301 to spectroscopy, kinetics, and electrochemistry.

A laboratory course support the lecture material developing advanced analysis methods.

Topics

  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Kinetics, photochemistry and atmospheric chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Solutions and Electrolyte solutions

Either Inorganic or Organic Chemistry or (Inorganic Chemistry for Physical Science and Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry) (CHEM2102 or CHEM2201 or (CHEM2103 and CHEM2202), 1 unit, core)

Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM2102, 1 unit, core)

Aims:

To expand upon the concepts and supporting factual material introduced in first year inorganic chemistry (courses CHEM1004 and CHEM1101) and to explore the varied aspects of main group and transition metal chemistry.

Topics:

  • Principles and Applications of Group Theory
  • Pre- and post-transition metal chemistry
  • Structure, electronics and bonding in the d-block transition metals
  • Chemistry of complex solids

Organic Chemistry (CHEM2201, 1 unit, core)

The course provides an essential understanding of organic chemistry.

Topics:

  • structure elucidation by spectroscopic means;
  • electronic structure and reactivity of carbonyl compounds;
  • synthesis and reactivity of simple molecules;
  • basic retrosynthetic analysis;
  • the use of phosphorous, sulfur, boron and silicon reagents in organic synthesis;
  • essential chemistry of heteroaromatic compounds.

Inorganic Chemistry for Physical Science (CHEM2103, 0.5 unit, core)

Aims:

To expand upon the concepts and supporting factual material introduced in first year inorganic chemistry (courses CHEM1004 and CHEM1101) and to explore the varied aspects of main group and transition metal chemistry.

Topics:

  • Principles and Applications of Group Theory
  • Pre- and post-transition metal chemistry
  • Structure, electronics and bonding in the d-block transition metals

Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry (CHEM2202, 0.5 unit, core)

The course provides an essential understanding of organic chemistry.

Topics:

  • structure elucidation by spectroscopic means;
  • electronic structure and reactivity of carbonyl compounds;
  • synthesis and reactivity of simple molecules; 
  • basic retrosynthetic analysis;
  • the use of phosphorus, sulfur, boron and silicon reagents in organic synthesis;

Chemical Dynamics (CHEM2303, 0.5 unit, core)

The aim of this course is to teach students the fundamentals of modern chemical dynamics and modern experimental methods in chemical physics.

Topics:

  • Photochemistry and photophysics
  • Reaction dynamics
  • Lasers and laser techniques

Classical Mechanics (PHAS1247, 0.5 unit, core)

This course aims to:

  • convey the importance of classical mechanics in formulating and solving problems in many different areas of physics and develop problem-solving skills more generally.
  • introduce the basic concepts of classical mechanics and apply them to a variety of problems associated with the motion of single particles, interactions between particles and the motion of rigid bodies.
  • provide an introduction to fluid mechanics.

Mathematical Methods in Chemistry (MATH6201, 0.5 unit, core)

This is a course designed for second year students of chemistry, dealing with some of the mathematics useful for physical chemistry. Thus it covers series solution of ODEs, Legendre polynomials, group theory and some matrix theory. Applications of the methods to problems in Chemistry are discussed (e.g. the hydrogen atom).

Atomic and Molecular Physics (PHAS2224, 0.5 unit, core)

The aims of this course are to provide an introduction to the structure and spectra of simple atoms and molecules, to go beyond the one election hydrogen atom and to prepare students for more advanced courses in atomic and molecular spectroscopy.

Year 3

Advanced Topics in Physical Chemistry (CHEM3301, 0.5 unit, core)

The course will show:

  • how the measurement of molecular quantities via spectroscopy can provide the necessary data for the calculation of macroscopic quantities via statistical mechanics
  • how statistical mechanics can be used to determine important quantities such as equilibrium constants the importance of stability in thermodynamics
  • how a detailed description of the structure and reactivity of surfaces can be developed.


Topics:

  • Molecular spectroscopy
  • Advanced thermodynamics and statistical mechanics
  • Surfaces and adsorption
  • Electron transfer in solutions and at electrodes

Advanced Topics in Inorganic Chemistry or Principles and Methods of Organic Synthesis (CHEM3101 or CHEM3205, 0.5 unit, core)

Depending on your 2nd year option.

Advanced Topics in Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM3101, 0.5 unit, core)

Aims

To introduce and discuss four important and diverse areas of inorganic chemistry. To lay the theoretical and practical foundations for advanced courses in some of these areas taken later. To encourage students to investigate these topics by reading beyond the lecture material.


Topics:

  • Lanthanides and Actinides
  • Advanced Inorganic Materials Chemistry Processes and Applications
  • Organometallic Chemistry
  • Main Group Chemistry

Principles and Methods of Organic Synthesis (CHEM3205, 0.5 unit, core)

The aim of this course is to give students an understanding of more advanced areas of organic synthesis. Key areas covered include: Palladium-catalysed reactions; Basic asymmetric synthesis; Pericyclic organic reactions; Stereoelectronic effects; and Stereocontrolled synthesis and manipulation of cyclic and polycyclic molecules.

Topics:

  • Catalytic Palladium Chemistry in Organic Synthesis
  • Asymmetric Synthesis
  • Frontier Orbitals in Organic Chemistry
  • Stereoelectronic Effects in Organic Synthesis

Either Numerical Methods in Chemistry or Concepts in Computational and Experimental Chemistry (CHEM3344 or CHEM3042, 0.5 unit, core)

Two courses developing theoretical and experimental methods in physical chemistry

Numerical Methods in Chemistry

To develop an understanding of numerical and analytical techniques in chemistry data analysis.

Topics:

  • Scientific Computing
  • Data Analysis
  • Data Acquisition Processing and Analysis
  • Bayesian Statistics and Maximum Entropy
  • Monte Carlo methods

Concepts in Computational and Experimental Chemistry

 At the end of the course students will be able to describe some of the key theories underlying modern computational chemistry and to use these theories to tackle a range of descriptive and problem based questions. They will also appreciate the physical rules that define the electronic properties of perfect and defected crystals.

Topics:

  • Atomistic Modelling
  • Electronic Structure Theory
  • Solid State Chemistry

An Introduction to Research Methods/Advanced Research Methods (CHEM3001/CHEM3003, 1.0/0.5 unit, core)

Advanced practical skills are developed through a series of experimental modules.

MSci students (1 unit) do 3 laboratory or computing modules and a further module which involves group work and an oral presentation on a special topic.

BSc students (0.5 unit) do 2 laboratory or computing modules and a further module which involves group work and an oral presentation on a special topic.

Literature Project (CHEM3004, 0.5 unit, core/option)

Core for MSci Students, option for BSc students

Aims

To write a review of a current research area in chemistry of up to 5,000 words (excluding figures and schemes), containing at least 20 references to primary scientific literature.

Objectives

To identify and document key aspects of recent research literature on a specified topic, using a variety of (largely electronic) search methods and databases; to acquire a firm understanding and overview of the specific field of research defined by the project, and to put in context, and in an objective manner, key research results; to write a concise review that is scientifically correct and communicates good understanding of the specific area.

Advanced Chemistry/Physics/Maths Options (0.5/1.5 unit)

Students take a further half unit (MSci) or 1.5 units (BSc) in any of the above disciplines. BSc students may select to take a 0.5 unit module outside of chemistry, physics or maths.


Current units offered:

Concepts in Computational and Experiment Chemistry
Inorganic Rings, Chains and Clusters
Biological Chemistry
Principles of Drug Design
Pathways, Intermediates and Function in Organic Chemistry
Numerical Methods in Chemistry
New Directions in Materials Chemistry

Optional Physics course (0.5 unit)

Students select half a unit from appropriate physics and astronomy modules.

The BSc third year can be viewed here.

Year 4

Advanced Chemical Research Project (CHEMM901, 2 unit, core)

The course involves two terms' research under the direct supervision of one or, in some cases, two members of the academic staff.

Experimental work starts in the second week of the first term and be completed three weeks from the end of the second term. The total time available is therefore 1 week for reading and preparation, 19 weeks for experimental work and 3 weeks to produce a final report. An average of about 22 hours a week should be devoted to the project, including reading, writing and discussions, giving a total load of about 500 hours. 

Assessment is through the supervisor's observation, a project report, an oral examination and a presentation.

Other Options (0.5 unit)

Optional courses outside of chemistry may be taken or additional courses in chemistry, mathematics or physics to make the total number of course units taken up to 4.

See Year 1 options for the MSci Chemistry course for subject areas outside chemistry.

Advanced Chemistry/Physics/Maths Options (two 0.5 unit)

Topics in Quantum Mechanics (CHEMM302, 0.5 unit, core)

Topics in Quantum Mechanics

By the end of this course, the students will be able to solve many different problems involving atoms, molecules and their spectroscopy using techniques of quantum mechanics. Topics include:

  • Operators and Angular Momentum
  • Perturbation theories
  • Spectroscopy of Polyatomic Molecules

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