module specification

CY5082 - Thermodynamics and Electrochemistry (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Thermodynamics and Electrochemistry
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 150
30 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
84 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Interactive online worksheet
Unseen Examination 60%   Unseen written exam (90 mins)
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module aims to develop the students’ knowledge and understanding of two major areas of physical chemistry and give an appreciation of the importance of modelling physicochemical processes mathematically in order to be able to predict the behaviour of chemical systems. The module will examine key theories and applications of thermodynamics and electrochemistry. Additionally, the module aims to provide students with the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment by demonstrating initiative and personal responsibility. Taught sessions will highlight related, impactful research from a diverse body of scientists.

Prior learning requirements

CY4071 & CY4081

Available for Study Abroad? NO



A review of the laws of thermodynamics, enthalpy changes and heat capacities. Work and heat calculations for the expansion of an ideal gas under isothermal and adiabatic conditions. Variation of heat capacities with temperature, equipartition of energy. Statistical thermodynamics related to entropy changes and residual entropy, the Carnot cycle. Gibbs Free Energy and its link to Trouton’s rule and equilibrium constants. Phase equilibria and phase diagrams of multi-components systems, azeotropes and eutectics, the lever rule, fractional distillation. (LOs 1-6)


Revision of cell potentials and reference cells. The thermodynamics of galvanic cells and how free energy, entropy and enthalpy changes can be determined. Calculating standard electrode potentials using the Nernst equation. Conductance, activities and ionic activity coefficients of ions in solution, ionic strength, the Debye-Hückel limiting law and its use for estimating the mean ionic activity coefficient. Solubility equilibria of sparingly soluble salts. (LOs 1-6)

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Students will be introduced simultaneously to the theoretical concepts and the mathematical techniques needed to successfully understand and apply these concepts via lectures (14 h) and tutorials (7 h). Simulated data and practically generated material will be used to allow the students to develop a full understanding of the implications and applications of thermodynamics and electrochemistry. The practically generated material will be obtained in laboratory sessions (12 h) which will provide the students with experimental verification of the theoretical work and allow them to develop practical skills in measurement of a range of physical and chemical parameters. Additional resources will be used to direct student learning and preparatory exercises for the laboratory work (8 h) will be used to ensure students are familiar with the background theory and methodologies prior to the practical sessions. Further exam preparation will be facilitated through an interactive revision session (3 h). There will also be weekly drop-in sessions, of one-hour duration, which students can make use of to consolidate their understanding of the subject matter.

Learning outcomes

1. Describe the basis of the theories underpinning the various branches of physical chemistry covered

2. Predict the outcome of an experiment based on a specific model for system behaviour, understanding and analysing the limitations of the model

3. Perform experimental procedures correctly and record experimental data accurately

4. Display experimental data appropriately in tabular and graphical forms

5. Identify errors in experimental data and interpret experimental results in the light of relevant theory

6. Calculate the value of specified chemical variables and critically review the results

Assessment strategy

The interactive online assessment will require students to utilise the data and knowledge acquired in the practical course to complete an interactive worksheet (40 %) (developed using LearnSci) that will provide immediate feedback to students. The final examination (90 mins) (60 %) will be used to assess the students’ knowledge of theory, ability to perform calculations, identify error sources, display data and comment on the validity of models. The exam will focus on the thermodynamics and electrochemistry section of the course. Students must pass with an overall mark of 40%.