CEM 383



Michigan State University


Lecturer: Denis A. Proshlyakov

Lectures take place in A155 Plant & Soil Science Bldg.

Office: 229 Chemistry Bldg.

Phone: 517-355-9715, ext. 260

e-mail: dapro@chemistry.msu.edu

office hours: Monday, Wednesday 11:20am-noon or by appointment.


Introductory Physical Chemistry I Macroscopic Physical Chemistry

Chemistry 383 is the first course in a two-course sequence in physical chemistry. Physical chemistry involves the application of quantitative methods to a variety of chemical systems for the purpose of gaining detailed understanding of their behavior. Ultimately, this allows researchers to explain and predict chemical events with great certainty. The workhorse for describing the behavior of a macroscopic systems, such as a beaker of water or a tank of nitrogen at different temperatures and pressures, is chemical thermodynamics. We will explore thermodynamic properties of simple systems and use it to understand properties of more complex systems, such as chemical equilibria and electrochemistry. Although thermodynamics allows us to predict aspects of chemical reactions that involve energy, it says nothing about the practical issue of reaction time. Therefore, we will complete our treatment of macroscopic physical chemistry with review of chemical kinetics. [tentaive SYLLABUS - under revision]


Textbook:     Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences, 2nd. Ed. by P. Atkins and J. de Paula, W.H. Freeman.

I will follow the overall flow of this text in the course with stronger emphasis on practical, quantitative approaches and problem solving methods. Most of the homework assignments will come from the text.


Attendance policy

Attendance is not required unless you intend to complete the course with a good grade. In the latter case it is recommended to attend all scheduled lectures. Majority of quizzes and exams will be based on lectures, information related to lectures, homework, and practice during recitations.



In-class work. This course will involve multiple in-class problem assignments with peer discussions and solutions review. One hour exam will take place in a traditional form as a preparation for the Final Exam. In-class assignments will take place throughout the course based on class preparedness, either on a short notice or unannounced. Such problems will be collected and graded.

Scheduled Event



Hour Exam


10:20 AM

Final Exam


12:45 PM

All exams and quizzes will be held in room 138 Chemistry during class, except for the time of the Final Exam.

All home and in-class work, except for the two scheduled exams above, must be completed on a carbonless copy paper. Graded work will not be returned to you, but retained by TAs and stored for the duration of the course. Students are highly encouraged to organize and maintain their problem notebooks for reference and review in case of a disagreement over grading. Copy notebooks will not be provided by our staff, it is your responsibility to be ready.


Problem Sets

Several practice problem sets will be assigned during the semester. Some of the problems will be taken from the text. It is up to you to make sure that you understand the assigned problems. You are welcome to work on these problems in a small group of students, but you must turn in your own solutions. These exercises are important to learning the course material and necessary (although not sufficient) to do well on the exams! Problem sets will normally be due at the start of class one week after they are handed out. Late problem sets will not be accepted because solutions will also be made available the day that they are turned in.

Only one problem from each problem set will be graded on content, and TAs will assign a grade to the remainder of the problems based on completeness. Graded problem will be selected after assignments are turned in. If solutions are posted before the due date (such as before exams) then problem sets will be graded only on completeness. It is important to show your work and to use units in your homework, as it is on the exams. So, if you develop good habits while doing your homework, it will pay off on the exams. Even a correct numerical answer without shown work will earn zero credit.


Missed due dates

Because of multiple dates of in-class work, there will be no makeup assignments. We understand that heath issues, professional activities (interviews etc.) and family emergencies do happen, therefore we will count 80% of assignments toward final grade. No justification of absence is necessary in such cases. If you miss over 20% of assignments, you will be asked to show verifiable documentation before it can be considered in assigning final grade.


Course materials

Course materials will be posted on on d2l.msu.edu under CEM383 FS16 - Intro Physical Chemistry I.

Course materials will be organized in separate menu in D2L, broken down by sections. Section pages will contain links to PDF and animated lecture files and recommendation for textbook reading. Solutions to in-class assignments, assigned problem sets and their solutions, Quizzes and answer keys will be posted under Problems within corresponding sections.


It is expected that all students will study posted materials prior to attending the lecture. Some of the material will be provided only online and will not be reviewed further at the lecture in favor of examples of its practical application.


Please note: reproduction and distribution of any materials provided as a part of this course (including lecture notes, problems, solutions etc.) on any portal outside of D2L.MSU.EDU, whether commercial or not, is not permitted and will be pursued as a copyright infringement.


Discussions and teamwork

Team work and peer learning will be required in CEM383, both in class and online. At the beginning of the class students will sign up for one of the D2L groups (5-6 members), which will participate in the following graded activities:

Quizzes and exams will include open discussion time, during which students are highly encouraged to work within their groups. While you can freely discuss strategies and approaches, remember that each work is graded individually. As the course progresses, group discussion time will become shorter.

In addition, students are encouraged to exchange ideas on the discussions forum within D2L (under Communications->Discussions).Whether you have a creative solution or are completely lost - discuss it with your peers. Forum discussions are not assessed a formal grade, but active participants can earn few bonus points at the end of semester, which can come very handy if your score is just below the next grade break. Please subscribe to the forum and participate!


The final course grade will be based on your performance on problem sets, quizzes, hour exams and the final exam as follows:


Honors Option


It is possible to earn Honors credit for CEM 383. Several options are available, such as laboratory or literature research on subjects relevant to physical chemistry. A minimal final grade of 3.0 is required for Honors credit.

Notify me by Friday, Sep 30th if you will be pursuing it.


Recitations and Help Sessions


There are two teaching assistants assigned to this course:


These TAs will lead recitation sections given during the week each. Recitation periods provide an excellent opportunity to clear up difficulties that you are having with the course material and problem sets. Come to class prepared to ask questions!


You may occasionally attend any recitation section, HOWEVER:

  1. check with your TA before switching sections on a regular basis,
  2. hand your homework only to the section you are officially signed up for so that it is graded.

Schedule of Recitations beginning Tuesday, September 6:









3:00 pm - 3:50 pm

110 Cem




11:30 am - 12:20 pm

085 Cem




3:00 pm - 3:50 pm

112 Bessey




10:20 am -11:10 am

085 Cem




3:00 pm - 3:50 pm

183 Cem