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NUS Chemistry Module Review: CM1131 Physical Chemistry 1

Difficulty of this Mod: 7/10 (I was a H2 Bio student, without any H2/O level Physics Background)

Possibly one of the toughest Year 1 Chem Mods to take, with a total of 40 lectures spanning over the course of 11-12 weeks (excluding reading week). Students who have taken H2 Physics may find the content of this module easier/more manageable, but that doesn’t mean those without physics background are heavily disadvantaged in anyway whatsoever.

In sum, CM1131 is a further extension of H2 Chemistry Reaction Kinetics and Thermodynamics/Chem Equilibrium with greater depth and further breadth. For Reaction Kinetics, the depth/breadth is 80% similar to what was already taught at JC, whereas for thermodynamics, the depth and breadth is a huge jump from what one has learnt for thermodynamics/chem eqm for JC Chem (I would only say the content has only about 10% similarity), spanning from coverage of basic terms like isochores, isotherms, first/second/third law of thermodynamics (covered mostly in H2 Physics) to other stuff such as equipartition theorem, Henry/Raoult’s Laws, ideal/non-ideal solutions and also chem equilibrium calculation questions which can be way more complex as what you may have been used to in JC.

Prof Bettens is a very knowledgeable professor in Physical Chem, and even though the speed of content/concepts covered in this module may make this seem like an 8 MC mod, the way he explains concepts in the recorded lecture videos does make the seemingly complicated content much more digestible and easy to understand. The use of analogies at times to reiterate/outline certain concepts were instrumental too. However, the rather frequent ”You should already know this by now” which gets repeated once every 5 to 10 minutes in most lecture videos made me slightly sad/disconnected when I get lost at times understanding the content initially as he assumes every student taking this module to have H2 Physics Background. Prof Yudistira also puts in his utmost effort during tutorials to explain the tutorial questions very clearly, and without fail, tends to ask us thought-provoking questions at times during tutorial to check on our understanding of the content for this module.

Despite not having a physics background, through putting in effort to try and understand the content/concepts being taught in this module and applying them, I ended up enjoying this module. To future students taking this module, especially those without any prior physics knowledge, don’t be disheartened. As long as you put in consistent effort in revising whatever has to be done on a weekly basis, and know your stuff well and able to apply the concepts across different chapters, this will be a rather manageable mod overall.

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