module specification

CY5072 - Kinetics and Surface Chemistry (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Kinetics and Surface Chemistry
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 150
30 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
82 hours Guided independent study
38 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Practical report
Unseen Examination 50%   Final Exam (1 hour)
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn 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 chemical kinetics and surface chemistry. 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



The Arrhenius equation. Collision theory - collision cross sections of colliding molecules, average relative velocities, Boltzmann energy factor, P-factor to account for steric effects. Potential energy surfaces and reaction trajectories. Transition state theory. Complex reactions and the calculation of theoretical rate constants using the steady state approximation. Introduction to catalytic kinetics and the derivation of the Michaelis-Menten rate equation. (LOs 1-6)

Surface Chemistry

The liquid surface, liquid-liquid and gas-liquid interfaces. Surface tension, surfactants, surface excess, colloidal dispersions and macromolecules. Adsorption mechanisms and isotherms - Gibbs adsorption isotherm and the Langmuir, Freundlich, Temkin and BET isotherms. (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 (10 h) and tutorials (5 h). A problem-solving workshop (3 h) will support the lectures and help prepare students for assessments. Simulated data and practically generated material will be used to allow the students to develop a full understanding of the implications and applications of chemical kinetics and surface chemistry. The practically generated material will be obtained in laboratory sessions (20 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. 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 final exam (1 h) will examine the students’ ability to describe the theory and to perform calculations based on relevant chemical kinetics and surface chemistry. The practical report (1000 words) may be concerned with any aspect of the material on the practical course and will require the students to research the background for a particular model of system behaviour, measure and present experimental data, comment on any errors and discuss the success of the model in light of the experimental results. Students must pass with an overall mark of 40%.