Introduction to Physical Chemistry


The overall objective of Introduction to Physical-Chemistry is to provide the fundamental scientific background and practical training in Chemistry that are the basis for the understanding of the world around us.  A key general objective is the development of qualitative and quantitative problem-solving skills. Of comparable importance is to learn proper laboratory practices, execute experiments, interpret experimental results and draw reasonable conclusions. Specific learning objectives for this course include the development of conceptual understanding of: bulk properties and models of gases, liquids and solids; thermodynamic laws and their relation with equilibrium - entropy and free energy concepts; physical and chemical equilibria; acqueous equilibria; electrochemistry and chemical kinetics.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Ana Isabel Nobre Martins Aguiar de Oliveira Ricardo


Weekly - 5

Total - 39

Teaching language



Available soon


-“Chemical Principles. The Quest for Insight”, P.Atkins and L. Jones, Freeman 5th ed.(2010).

- Chemical Principles Student Solutions Manual, C. Hoeger, L. Lavelle and Y. Ma   6th ed. (2013), ISBN: 978-1-4641-0707-8.

-Química, R. Chang & K. A. Goldsby, McGraw-Hill 11th ed.

Teaching method

The course is organized into lectures (T 28h), problem-solving sessions (TP, 21h) and lab sessions (P, 15h). Fundamentals are explained during the lectures, using data show and challenging the students to solve and think about new problems. Prior to each TP class, problem-sheets are offered to students to be solved before each TP session, and demonstrated in class. The lab classes follow the method of directed study, students are organized in groups of three and the work done is evaluated at the end of each lab session. It is provided access to a page – moodle - containing all course material and related information. Final mark: 0,80 theory mark + 0,20 lab mark. Theory mark: 0,7 tests mark (or written exam mark) + 0,3 on-line quizzes mark (4); Lab mark: laboratory reports based on lab practicals (all the lab sessions are compulsive).

Evaluation method

Lab mark: evaluation of experimental data achieved (all the lab sessions are compulsive).

Final mark: 0,20 lab mark + 0,20 moodle quizzes mark+0,60 theory mark.

Subject matter

1.1.Intermolecular forces.

1.1.1.Solids, liquids and gases.

1.1.2.Phase transitions.

1.1.3.Phase diagrams for pure substances

1.1.4.Ideal gases and real gases.

1.1.5.State equations.


1.2.1.Revision of concepts: sistems, work, energie and heat.

1.2.2.Calorimetry. Specific heat and heat capacity. Law of Thermodynamics.

1.2.4.Energy transfer in chemical reactions.

1.2.5.Enthalpy. Formation Enthalpy and reaction Enthalpy.


1.3.Entropy, Gibbs energy and equilibrium.

1.3.1.Spontaneous processes.

1.3.2.Entropy and the 2nd law of Thermodynamics.

1.3.3.Total entropy chnages.

1.3.4.Gibbs energy.

1.3.5.Gibbs energy and chemical equilibrium.

1.4. Physical equilibrium

1.4.1.Phase transitions and phase diagrams.


1.4.3.Colligative properties.

1.4.4. Binarymixtures. Ideal solutions. Raoult Law.

1.5. Chemical Equilibrium.

1.5.1.The concept of chemical equilibrium. Ways of expressing equilibrium constants.

1.5.2.Factors that affect chemical equilibrium. Le Châtelier Principle.


1.6. Acid-Base Equilibria.


1.6.1.Conjugate acid-base pair. The ion product of water and the pH scale.


1.6.2.pH of solutions.


1.6.3.Buffer solutions


1.7. Solubility.

1.7.1.Solubility equilibria and solubility product.

1.7.2.Common ion effect.


1.8. Electrochemistry

1.8.1.Galvanic Cells. Schematic representation of galvanic cells.

1.8.2.Standard electrode potentials.

1.8.3.Nernst equation.

1.8.4.Electrolytic Cell.


1.9.Chemical kinetics.

1.9.1.The rate of reactions.

1.9.2.Rate laws. Experimental determination of rate law.

1.9.3.Arrhenius Law and activation energy.

1.9.4. Reaction mechanisms. Elementary steps. Molecularity.

1.9.5.Introduction to the collision theory and activated complex theory.