Physical Chemistry (CHEM*2880)

Code and section: CHEM*2880*01

Term: Fall 2023


General Information

College of Engineering and Physical Sciences 
Department of Chemistry
CHEM*2880 – Physical Chemistry 
Fall 2023 Student Course Information


Welcome to CHEM*2880! Physical chemistry is the branch of chemistry that deals with the scientific analysis of properties and the behavior of chemical systems, primarily by physical theory and techniques. It covers many topics that are important in the biological sciences. Why do some reactions proceed in one direction and not backwards? How fast are chemical reactions in living organisms? How much energy does an organism consume? How do we know the mass and the shape of a protein? Physical Chemistry provides the methods and theoretical background to answer these and related questions. This course will present the principles of physical chemistry and their application in the biological sciences.

Calendar Description

CHEM*2880  Physical Chemistry  Fall Only  (LEC: 3, LAB: 1.5)  [0.50]  
This survey course is intended for students who are not specializing in chemistry or chemical physics. Topics include basic thermodynamics, chemical equilibrium, macromolecular binding, chemical kinetics, enzyme kinetics, transport processes, colligative properties and spectroscopy. This course describes macroscopic observable properties of matter in terms of molecular concepts.

Prerequisite(s): CHEM*1050, (1 of IPS*1500, MATH*1000, MATH*1080, MATH*1200)  
Restriction(s): CHEM*2820  
Department(s): Department of Chemistry  
Location(s): Guelph  

Method of presentation

Lectures will concentrate on the principles and concepts behind the material, while seminars provide further opportunities to engage with the material and develop your problem-solving skills. Lecture notes are posted on the CourseLink site. There is a good correlation between mastering the course concepts on a week-by-week basis and performance in the course.


Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the properties of both ideal and real gases and solutions.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum, how it applies to the study of molecules and the basic principles of spectroscopic methods such as IR and NMR.
  3. Understand and show knowledge of the four laws of classical thermodynamics, including interpreting formulas and concepts related to these laws.
  4. Understand and apply the concepts of chemical equilibrium and the response of chemical equilibria to changing conditions, such as temperature and pressure.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of reaction rates and the conditions that influence them.
  6. Solve problems and interpret graphs based on experimental observations and quantitative data.


Learning Resources

  1. Textbook: R. Chang, Physical Chemistry for the Biosciences, University Science Books, 2005
    Note: The Canadian Distributor for the textbook provides a 20% discount if you purchase the textbook from their website ( Enter Special Market Code PCB23 in the cart after you hit the buy button.
  2. Supplemental: M. Marshall & H. Leung, Problems and Solutions to accompany Chang's Physical Chemistry for the Biosciences, University Science Books, 2005.
    A copy of the textbook and solutions manual are on Library Course Reserve (Ares); on a first come, first served basis you can borrow these items on a four-hour loan.



Your final course grade will be based on the scheme that produces the highest score:

Course Component Weight Scheme #1 Weight Scheme #2
CourseLink Quizzes (two worst scores dropped) 10% 10%
Test #1 – Week 4 (Wed., Oct. 4, during seminar) 25% Best Test Score = 35%
Test #2 – Week 8 (Wed., Nov. 1, during seminar) 30% Best Test Score = 35%
Cumulative Final Exam (Thurs., Dec. 14, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM) 35% 55%
  1. CourseLink Quizzes: Following the seminars, a quiz will open at 7:00 PM and is due by Sunday, 11:59 PM (refer to schedule on the next page). You can use the textbook and any notes when attempting the quizzes. The maximum benefit from the quizzes will be obtained if you do them on your own under examination conditions. Quizzes are time limited, and you have two attempts at each quiz, where the highest score becomes your grade. After the class deadline, you can review your quiz along with any feedback. Use this opportunity to make corrections and solidify your understanding. If a quiz is not attempted, a grade of zero will be assigned. Your final quiz grade is determined after dropping the two worst score.
  2. Midterm Tests and Final Examination: The tests and final exam are closed book. Notes, printed material of any kind, any communication with other students or any other aids are not allowed. Calculators capable of storing text are not permitted. An equation sheet is provided, along with relevant constants that are needed to complete the questions. Equations sheets, along with copies of past tests, plus solutions, are posted under Content >> Exams - Past & Present. Test#1 addresses material up to and including the Monday, Oct. 2 lecture, while Test#2 will include material from the end of Week 4 to Week 8. The final exam is cumulative.


Lecture Content Schedule

Week Dates Topics Text Ref Seminar
Week 0 Sept. 7 – 8 Introduction
Properties of Gases
Review Chapter 1
Ch 2, 2.1-2.3
Week 1 Sept. 11 – 15 Properties of Gases
& Spectroscopy
Ch 2, 2.4-2.6 (p. 21)
Ch 14, 14.1
Ch 14, 14.2-14.4
Properties of Gases
Quiz #1
Week 2 Sept. 18 – 22 Spectroscopy
& 1st Law of Thermodynamics
Ch 14, 14.5-14.8
Ch 14, 14.9; Ch 3, 3.2
Ch 3, 3.3-3.4
Quiz #2
Week 3 Sept. 25 – 29 1st & 2nd Law of Thermodynamics Ch 3, 3.5-3.7
Ch 4, 4.1-4.3
Ch 4, 4.4- 4.5
Quiz #3
Week 4 Oct. 2 – 6 2nd Law of Thermodynamics & Solutions Ch 4, 4.6-4.8
Ch 5, 5.1-5.2
Test #1 (material up to the end of Monday’s lecture.)
Week 5
(no classes Oct. 9 or 10)
Oct. 11 – 13 Solutions Ch 5, 5.3-5.5
Ch 5, 5.6
Ch 5, 5.7-5.8
Quiz #4
Week 6 Oct. 16 – 20 Solutions & Chemical Equilibrium Ch 5, 5.9; Ch 6, 6.1
Ch 6, 6.2 – 6.5(p. 213)
Quiz #5
Week 7 Oct. 23 – 27 Chemical Equilibrium & Electrochemistry Ch 6, 6.5(p. 213) – 6.6
Chemical Equilibrium
Quiz #6
Week 8 Oct. 30 – Nov. 3 Electrochemistry & Acids & Bases Review
Ch 8, 8.1 – 8.4
Test #2 (material from Weeks 4-8)
Week 9 Nov. 6 – 10 Acids & Bases & Chemical Kinetics Ch8,8.5–8.7
Acids & Bases
Quiz #7
Week 10 Nov. 13 – 17 Chemical Kinetics Ch 9, 9.5 – 9.6
Ch 9, 9.9 – 9.11
Quiz #8
Week 11 Nov. 20 – 24 Enzyme Kinetics  Ch 10, 10.1 – 10.2
Ch 10, 10.3 – 10.5
Ch 10, 10.6 – 10.7
Quiz #9
Week 12 Nov. 27 – Dec. 1 Review Review No Quiz


Equal Opportunity and Evaluation Policy

The University is committed to academic integrity and has high ethical and moral standards. All students will be treated equally and evaluated based on the criteria set out in this outline. Evaluation criteria are based strictly on achievement and not effort. There is no extra work for extra credit or to “make up” a grade. The need to obtain a higher grade for various reasons is not grounds for increasing a grade. If your grade were “bumped”, where you received a grade that you did not legitimately earn, that would be unfair to all the other students in the course.


Policy on Missed Work

  1. Missed Tests: If you do not write one of the tests, e-mail Prof. Jones via your U of G account. Include your full name, student ID number and an explanation If a valid excuse is received, your final grade will be determined by Scheme#2, given above. Otherwise, a grade of zero will be assigned for the missed test. If you know ahead of time that you will be away on the date of a test, you can email Prof. Jones to discuss the possibility of writing the test on an alternate date. Alternate tests may be granted for extenuating circumstances such as compassionate reasons, varsity sporting events, planned medical procedures etc. Alternate tests will be at the sole discretion of the instructor.
  2. When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement: When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement, due to illness or compassionate reasons, e-mail Prof. Jones via your U of G account. Include your full name and ID number. If a valid excuse is received, your work may be re-evaluated; otherwise, a grade of zero is assigned. See the Undergraduate Calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration. Note: If you are looking for a brief extension on a quiz, it is best to do so before its due date.
  3. Medical Notes will not normally be required for singular instances of academic consideration, although students may have to provide supporting documentation for multiple missed assessments or when involving a large part of a course (e.g., final exam or major assignment).
  4. Other Disruptions (severe weather, loss of power, public health changes, etc.) There may be potential disruptions during the semester. If they arise, contingency plans (change in lecture delivery, rescheduling of classes or exams, changes to assessment due dates, etc.) will be announced through the CourseLink course website.


Problem Sets and End-of-Chapter Problems

There is a good correlation between mastering the course concepts on a week-by-week basis and performance in the course. Problem sets and end-of-chapter questions supply reinforcement of the principles covered in lectures, allow you to practice problem-solving techniques and check your own knowledge. Problem sets are posted on the course website and will not be graded. For full solutions, consult the textbook’s Student Solutions Manual. A copy is available on Course Reserve at the library.

Work the problems in the week the material is covered in lectures. A common reason why students are unsuccessful in CHEM*2880 is that they fall so far behind with the material that they never catch up. Lectures become harder to understand without the reinforcement effect of constant practice. If you have questions or the content becomes unclear, seek help early!

Properties of Gases

Chapter 2: 6, 8, 20, 24, 42, 44, 46.


Chapter 14: 2, 8, 16, 18, 26, 38, 48, 56, 66, 70, 74, 76, 84.


Chapter 3: 4, 6, 12, 14, 16, 22, 24, 36, 38, 40, 42, 50, 54, 56, 60, 64, 66, 81, 82.
Chapter 4: 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 18, 19, 20, 22, 26, 28, 32, 36, 38, 40, 44, 46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 74.


Chapter 5: 2, 8, 10, 12, 16, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 52, 54, 60, 63, 76, 78.
Chapter 6: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 14, 16, 18, 22, 28, 36, 42, 44, 46.
Chapter 7: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24, 28, 30, 36, 38, 42, 46.
Chapter 8: 2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 22, 24, 26, 28, 34, 36, 40, 42, 44, 48, 52, 54, 56, 62, 66, 70, 72, 80.


Chapter 9: 4, 6, 8, 10, 16, 22, 24, 30, 32, 34, 44, 46, 50, 52 (refer to 9.49 for definition of a curie).
Chapter 10: 6, 8, 12, 14, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38.


University Statements

Covid Information

Please note that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may necessitate a revision of the format of course offerings, changes in classroom protocols, and academic schedules. Any such changes will be announced via CourseLink and/or class email. This includes on-campus scheduling during the semester, mid-terms and final examination schedules. All University-wide decisions will be posted on the COVID-19 website and circulated by email.

Students are encouraged to wear a face mask in order to attend class and lab.

Please note, these guidelines may be updated as required in response to evolving University, Public Health or government directives.

Appropriate Online Behaviour

Inappropriate online behaviour will not be tolerated. Examples of inappropriate online behaviour include:

  • Posting inflammatory messages about your instructor or fellow students
  • Using obscene or offensive language online
  • Copying or presenting someone else's work as your own
  • Adapting information from the Internet without using proper citations or references
  • Buying or selling term papers or assignments
  • Posting or selling course materials to course notes websites
  • Having someone else complete your quiz or completing a quiz for/with another student
  • Stating false claims about lost quiz answers or other assignment submissions
  • Threatening or harassing a student or instructor online
  • Discriminating against fellow students, instructors and/or TAs
  • Using the course website to promote profit-driven products or services
  • Attempting to compromise the security or functionality of the learning management system
  • Sharing your username and password
  • Recording lectures without the permission of the instructor

E-mail Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their <> e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the undergraduate calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration.


Medical notes will not normally be required for singular instances of academic consideration, although students may be required to provide supporting documentation for multiple missed assessments or when involving a large part of a course (e.g. final exam or major assignment).

Drop Date

Courses that are one semester long must be dropped by the end of the last day of classes; two-semester courses must be dropped by the last day of classes in the second semester. The regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses are available in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Copies of out-of-class assignments

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.


The University promotes the full participation of students who experience disabilities in their academic programs. To that end, the provision of academic accommodation is a shared responsibility between the University and the student.

When accommodations are needed, the student is required to first register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Documentation to substantiate the existence of a disability is required, however, interim accommodations may be possible while that process is underway.

Accommodations are available for both permanent and temporary disabilities. It should be noted that common illnesses such as a cold or the flu do not constitute a disability.

Use of the SAS Exam Centre requires students to book their exams at least 7 days in advance, and not later than the 40th Class Day.

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community – faculty, staff, and students – to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection.

Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Recording of Materials

Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.
By enrolling in a course, unless explicitly stated and brought forward to their instructor, it is assumed that students agree to the possibility of being recorded during lecture, seminar or other “live” course activities, whether delivery is in-class or online/remote. If a student prefers not to be distinguishable during a recording, they may:

  1. turn off their camera
  2. mute their microphone
  3. edit their name (e.g., initials only) upon entry to each session
  4. use the chat function to pose questions.

Students who express to their instructor that they, or a reference to their name or person, do not wish to be recorded may discuss possible alternatives or accommodations with their instructor.


The Academic Calendars are the source of information about the University of Guelph’s procedures, policies and regulations which apply to undergraduate, graduate and diploma programs.