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Rice University

Chemistry: Concept Development and Application Part II

Rice University via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.


This course will cover the second half of an introduction to General Chemistry, including properties of matter, phase transition and equilibrium, solution equilibrium, reaction rates and kinetics, reaction equilibrium, acid-base equilibrium and thermodynamics.  We will use a free on-line textbook, Concept Development Studies in Chemistry, available via Rice’s Connexions project. 

The fundamental concepts in the course will be introduced via the Concept Development Approach developed at Rice University.  In this approach, we will develop the concepts you need to know from experimental observations and scientific reasoning rather than simply telling you the concepts and then asking you to simply memorize or apply them.

So why use this approach? 

One reason is that most of us are inductive learners, meaning that we like to make specific observations and then generalize from there.  Many of the most significant concepts in Chemistry are counter-intuitive.  When we see where those concepts come from, we can more readily accept them, explain them, and apply them. 

A second reason is that scientific reasoning in general and Chemistry reasoning in particular are inductive processes.  This Concept Development approach illustrates those reasoning processes.  

A third reason is that this is simply more interesting! The structure and reactions of matter are fascinating puzzles to be solved by observation and reasoning.  It is more fun intellectually when we can solve those puzzles together, rather than simply have the answers to the riddles revealed at the outset.


The course includes 9 weeks of instruction. It begins October 7 and ends December 16. There will be no instruction or assignments the week of November 25. 

Week 1 – Ideal Gas Law (IGL) and the Kinetic Molecular Theory (KMT)
Boyle's Law, Charles' Law, Absolute Zero, Ideal Gas Law, IGL Applications,
Dalton's Law of Partial Pressures, Postulates of the KMT Week 2 – Phase Transitions and Phase Equilibrium
Derivation of the IGL from KMT Postulates, Interpretation of the IGL and Deviations
from the IGL, Observations of Phase Transitions, Vapor Pressure and Dynamic
Week 3 – Phase Equilibrium and Solutions
Vapor Pressure and Intermolecular Forces, Vapor Pressure of Solutions, Raoult's
Law, Boiling Point Elevation and Melting Point Depression, Osmotic Pressure Week 4 – Reaction Rate Laws and Reaction Kinetics
Solubility, Equilibrium and Ksp; Defining and Measuring Rates of Reactions; The Rate Law; Temperature Dependence; Arrhenius Equation; Collision Theory; Mechanisms for Complex Reactions Week 5 – Gas Reaction Equilibrium and Equilibrium Constants
Equilibrium Constants for Gas Reactions; Dynamic Equilibrium and Rate Laws; Applications; Le Châtelier’s principle Week 6 – Strengths of Acids; Buffers
Acid-base definitions; Strong and Weak Acids; Observation of Ka; pH; Calculation of pH for Weak Acids; Hydrolysis of Anions; Kb; Neutralization Reactions; TitrationsWeek 7 – Strengths of Acids; Buffers
Relationship of Acid Strength to Bond Energy and Anion Stability; Buffers
Week 8 – Second Law of Thermodynamics
Probability and Spontaneity; Absolute Entropy; Spontaneity and Heat Transfer; Second Law of Thermodynamics Week 9 – Free Energy and Thermodynamic Equilibrium
Free Energy; Phase Equilibrium and Vapor Pressure; Reaction Equilibrium and Equilibrium Constants; Temperature Dependence

Taught by

John Hutchinson


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