Physical chemistry (2024)

Course manager

Lone Sophia Hjorth

Semester schedule

Spring (13-week period)



Language of instruction


Course type



The courses, General and organic chemistry and Mathematics 1, are recommended 


This course is a basic introduction to the energetics and kinetics of chemical reactions. Emphasis is on conditions that are important for the understanding of chemical unit operations and chemical and physical methods of analysis. Chemical energetics and kinetics will moreover be dealt with from a biochemical perspective.



  • Equation of state for ideal and non-ideal gases
  • Kinetic theory of gases

Liquids and solids

  • The properties of liquids
  • Vapour pressure
  • Types of solids
  • Phase diagrams
  • Crystalline substances

Chemical thermodynamics

  • Energy, Enthalpy, Entropy, and Gibbs free energy
  • Changes in enthalpy at phase transitions
  • Standard states in chemistry and biochemistry

Chemical equilibrium

  • The relation between Gibbs energy and the equilibrium constant
  • Combined equilibria
  • Ion strength and activity coefficients

Physical equilibria

  • Phase equilibria
  • Solubility
  • Gas-liquid equilibria for mixtures
  • Colligative properties (boiling point elevation, freezing point depression, osmotic pressure, etc.)

Electrochemistry and its relation to thermodynamics

  • Redox reactions and standard potentials
  • Galvanic cells
  • The relation between Gibbs free energy and cell potential
  • The Nernst equation
  • Electrolysis 
  • Batteries

Kinetics in chemical reactions 

  • Chemical kinetics
  • Temperature dependency. The Arrhenius equation.
  • Reaction mechanisms, elementary reactions and catalysis

The purpose of the laboratory practicals (corresponding to 1.5 ECTS) is to illustrate and entrench the theoretical principles through practical exercises comprising e.g. calorimetry and kinetics.

Learning targets

On completion of the course, the student is expected to be able to:


  • Explain the basic laws of thermodynamics within the topic areas of the course
  • Describe the kinetics of chemical reactions


  • Apply and combine definitions and formula within the topic areas of the course
  • Analyse chemistry written as text and translate this into chemical equations 
  • Calculate thermodynamic state functions
  • Calculate simple and combines equilibria comprising redox relations, precipitation reactions, and acid-base reactions
  • Derive and use the Nernst equation
  • Calculate experimental rate constants 
  • Assess uncertainties and apply units correctly
  • Carry out simple physical chemical experiments with good precision


  • Possess the required qualifications in physical chemistry for the purpose of participation in the further education to Bachelor of Engineering in Biotechnology
  • Be capable of linking knowledge about chemical equilibrium and electrochemistry with biotechnology
  • Be capable of explaining theory and data processing pertaining to a chemical experiment
  • Be capable of stating the reasons for choice of simple experimental techniques
  • Be capable of using IT by way of Python or spreadsheets in the treatment and reporting of own results
  • Know how to practice good laboratory manners focused on safety

Teaching method

Lessons, problem solution and laboratory exercises 

Qualifications for examination participation

  • Participation in laboratory exercises and acceptance of associated mandatory papers. 

All course activities and results will be performed and submitted pursuant to guidelines set out by the course manager.

Examination and aids

Written examination. Duration of examination: 4 hours.

Permitted aids: Textbook, notes, laboratory reports and mathematical program/spreadsheet. No access to the internet. 

The form of examination at a 3rd attempt may vary from the above.




The 7-point grading scale