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Syllabus on the web

by Gutow, Jonathan H last modified Aug 22, 2012 11:31 AM

html version of the syllabus.

Class Web Site:

Course Overview: Physical chemists and physicists make extensive use of mathematical models to describe natural phenomena. The underlying assumption is that the universe has an organization that can be expressed as quantitative models. An understanding of these models is fundamental to doing and understanding biochemistry. We will concentrate on how thermodynamics, kinetics and quantum mechanics can be used to understand biochemistry.

Required Text: Atkins & de Paula, Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences, 2nd Edition

Required Equipment: scientific calculator.

Prerequisites: Math 171, Chem 303 (may be concurrent), Physics 108 or 110.

Class times: Lectures: MWF 10:20-11:20 (HS 237)

Office Hours: Dr. Gutow (HS-412): MWF 11:30-12:30, TTh 10:30-11:30 or by appointment.

Reading Assignments and Homework will cover a week or two and will have parts due at the beginning of each class meeting. Assignments will not be accepted late, but some of your lowest scores will be dropped.

Reading Assignments will come primarily from the textbook. Other sources will be used as necessary.

Homework will be due for each class and consist of three sections of one or more questions each. The first two sections will focus on material we will be discussing during the class meeting for which the assignment is completed.

Critical Thinking Exercises/Discussion Questions: The questions are designed to help you learn how to use the textbook and other reference sources to prepare for class. For example, you might be asked to find definitions, compare two models and explain when it is appropriate to use each or work through some ‘what if’ calculations.

Practice Exercises: These will come primarily from the exercises section at the end of the chapter. The goal is to help you figure out what you need to ask about in class.

Problems: These problems will be a little more challenging and based on material discussed in the previous class.

Exams: There will be 220 available points on each exam. However, exams will be scored out of 200 points (20 pts of extra credit distributed throughout the exam). The exams will be one hour long. The material requires that exams be cumulative, but primary emphasis will be on the chapters covered since the previous exam. The goal of this course is not to memorize formulas, but to learn how to use models to make predictions. You will be provided with an equation sheet for each exam consisting of the fundamental equations of each model. Additionally, you will be allowed to bring a 3” x 5” card of handwritten notes to the exam.













Grade Cutoffs: A/A- > 88%, B+/B/B- > 78%, C+/C/C- > 68%, D+/D > 60%, F 60%. The cutoffs will not be adjusted upwards, but the instructor reserves the right to lower them.


Additional Resources:

WEB RESOURCES: This syllabus, copies of homework assignments, answer keys and useful links will be available at the course web site. The course web site may be accessed by starting at the instructor's home page:, or by following the direct link at the top of the syllabus. Problem sets and answer keys will be password protected. If you are registered for the class you will be able to use your campus login to access the password protected parts of the site.

CLASS DISCUSSION LIST: A private Google group has been set up for this class. Registering for the class adds you to the group. This e-mail discussion group will be used by the instructor to distribute notices and links to assignments. You should use this group to ask questions of fellow students. The instructor monitors the list and will try to address any unanswered questions after 48 hours. If you want to access the group on the web the direct link is:!forum/uwo_chem365f12

SYMBOLIC MATH PACKAGES: These can help you do algebra and calculus. The open source SAGE math package is available on the Chem SAGE Server or can be downloaded from the SAGEmath web site and installed on your personal computer. Information on user accounts on the Chem SAGE Server will be provided in class. MAPLE™ is available on the computers in the open access labs in Halsey.

TEXTS: The following books are on reserve in in the Halsey Resource Center (HS-289). You may find it useful to see difficult concepts described a number of ways. Homework assignments will suggest sections of these texts to look at for additional help.

Barrante, Applied Mathematics for Physical Chemistry QD455.3.M3 B37. A good review of chemical applications of graphing and calculus.

Warren, The Physical Basis of Chemistry, QD475.P47. This book has nice simplified, but accurate, descriptions of many of the quantum, spectroscopic and thermodynamic concepts we will discuss.



Lecture and Exam Schedule:

Topic (text sections)


I. Thermodynamics (Energy & Entropy)

The First Law (chapter 1)

9/5, 9/7, 9/10

The Second Law (chapter 2)

9/12, 9/14

Phase Equilibria (chapter 3)

9/17, 9/19, 9/21



Exam 1 (Unit I)

Wednesday, September 26

II. Equilibria and Electrochemistry

Chemical Equilibria (chapter 4)

9/28, 10/1,10/3, 10/5

Ion and Electron Transport (chapter 5)

10/8, 10/10, 10/12, 10/15



Exam 2 (Unit II)

Friday, October 19

III. Kinetics

Reaction Rates (chapter 6)

10/22, 10/24

Rate Laws and Mechanisms (chapter 7)

10/26, 10/29, 10/31

Complex Mechanisms (chapter 8)

11/2, 11/5, 11/7



Exam 3 (Unit III )

Monday, November 12

IV. Quantum Mechanics and Structure

Quantum Mechanics (chapter 9)

11/14, 11/16, 11/19

Thanksgiving Break

Bonding (chapter 10)

11/26, 11/28, 11/30,

Macromolecules and Self-Assembly (chapter 11)

12/3, 12/5, 12/17, 12/10,



Exam 4 (Unit IV)

Friday, December 14


Assessment of Learning: As part of the department's assessment of its majors program, evidence will be added to your portfolios to demonstrate your ability to do a number of things.

From Lecture:

  1. 1.describe the structure and composition of matter;

  2. 2.apply theoretical and mechanistic principles to the study of chemical systems employing both qualitative and quantitative approaches;

  3. 3.use theories of microscopic properties to explain macroscopic behavior;

  4. 4.explain the role of energy in determining the structure and reactivity of molecules;

  5. 5.use mathematical representations of physical phenomena.

  6. 6.extract information from resources such as books, the web and databases.



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by Gutow, Jonathan H last modified Aug 22, 2012 11:31 AM