Jim Ford‎ > ‎Courses‎ > ‎

CHY 373: Chemical Thermodynamics

Course location/time
    MW 11:45-1:00, Science 157
Physical Chemistry: A Molecular Approach
        Authors: McQuarrie and Simon
        University Science Books, 1997
Schedule and Assignments
Lecture notes

Course Description

A surprising amount of chemistry can be explained without recourse to detailed theories of atoms and molecules. Indeed, most of what we will cover in this course was developed prior to the concept of atomic "structure." We will begin with a discussion of the bulk properties of gases, including deviations from ideal gas behavior. Most of the course will be devoted to exploring the consequences of the laws of thermodynamics, using ideal gases and other simple models to investigate thermochemistry, phase diagrams, solutions, chemical equilibria and electrochemistry. After a brief discussion of chemical kinetics, we will wrap up the semester with an introduction to statistical thermodynamics and relate the bulk properties of matter to our modern atomic-level models.

Course Objectives

At the end of this course, you should be able to
  • Apply the basic tools of calculus to concepts in chemistry.
  • Manipulate the gas laws to describe real and ideal gas behavior.
  • Discuss the Three Laws of Thermodynamics and their development.
  • Be able to derive relationships between thermodynamic quantities.
  • Interpret phase diagrams and discuss phase equilibria in terms of chemical potential.
  • Explain the origin of the equilibrium constant and its relationship to fugacity and activity, and apply these concepts to real and ideal solutions.
  • Use kinetic information to arrive at plausible reaction mechanisms and/or rate laws.
  • Apply the steady-state hypothesis to obtain rate equations.
  • Use the Boltzmann distribution to describe the energy distribution associated with a chemical system at equilibrium.
  • Use the results of quantum mechanics to evaluate molecular and canonical partition functions.
  • Relate the canonical partition function to the thermodynamic energy and entropy.

Course Materials


  • McQuarrie and Simon's "Physical Chemistry: a Molecular Approach", University Science Books, 1997, ISBN 0-935702-99-7.
  • (optional) Spencer, Moog and Farrell: "Physical Chemitry: A Guided Inquiry: Thermodynamics", Brooks Cole 2003, ISBN 978-0618308538. UPDATE: Apparently this is no longer published by Brooks Cole, but for the moment at least you can access the material via the following link: https://issuu.com/wiley_publishing/docs/pogil_quantum_chemistry_a79f1e43b67ffc?e=1085234/7070204
Meetings and Announcements

The lecture meets in Science 157 (Portland), Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:45 to 1:00, weather permitting. (Check the USM storm line, 780-4800, for cancellations.) Any changes to the schedule, syllabus, etc. will be announced in class. You are responsible for all such announcements, whether you attended class or not.


Homework and in-class assignments will count for 40% of your grade. There will be 2 in-class exams and a final, each worth 20% of your grade. All exams are cumulative, but will emphasize material covered since the previous exam.


Click here for the tentative schedule of topics to be covered.

Students with disabilities

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, please inform me during the first week of the semester, after consulting with the Office of Academic Support for Students with Disabilities, 237 Luther Bonney, 780-4706. For problems with writing or study skills, make an appointment with the Learning Center, 253 Luther Bonney, 780-4228, or the Counseling Center, 106 Payson Smith, 780-4050.

Academic Integrity

All students are expected to follow the academic integrity policies that have been implemented by the University. If you need to review the policy, you can visit the website for the Office of Community Standards.