CHEM 443 Course Policies

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

The University of Delaware

Physical Chemistry I, CHEM 443

Course Policies



  • Thomas Engel and Philip Reid, Physical Chemistry, 3rd Ed., Pearson, Boston, 2013. Electronic Version
  • C. Dybowski and A. Teplyakov, Essential Data and Equations for a Course in Physical Chemistry (2nd Ed.) D&T Publishing, Newark, Delaware, 2011.


  • Thomas Engel and Philip Reid, Student’s Solutions Manual for Physical Chemistry, Pearson, Boston, 2013.


Quizzes and Examinations

Homework is assigned via the Pearson MyLab and Mastering Chemistry portal. Homework will be counted as 0% of the final grade for the course. If the University of Delaware administration considers transitioning to fully online instruction during the course of the Fall 2021 Semester, homework assignments may be assigned partial weight in order to take the place of weekly in-person, in-class quizzes. 

Two 2-hour midterm examinations are given during the semester. Each exam’s reading and lecture material coverage will be announced in class. No information on specific types of problems, specific concepts, specific terminology, or overly specific information will be possible; all materials covered in the class represent information and concepts which are potential sources for quiz and exam questions.  Material included in reading assignments as well as in class discussions, extra handouts, and suggested web-based readings/sources is considered as part of the course knowledge base, and as such, may potentially appear on exam questions.

The final examination is a 3-hour comprehensive exam.  Persons who missed one of the midterm examinations with an excused absence must take the final examination.

For numerical calculations, full credit is given for a complete set-up of a problem. A complete set-up gives the final formula used (with an indication of how it is derived from equations in the Handbook). All numbers must be properly plugged in with correct units. This is the criterion for a full, complete set-up: the grader need only perform a simple calculation with a calculator based on your bottom-line equation to obtain the correct numerical answer. Since many equations are given in Essential Data and Equations for a Course in Physical Chemistry, NO credit is given for just writing down an equation. You must also give the correct, REASONABLE units of the parameter being calculated. [For example, ergs/cm3 is not an appropriate reasonable unit of pressure.]

Of course, we emphasize that a correct answer is welcome. Obtaining the final numerical answer has advantages; it helps you eliminate various errors originating from unit conversions, mix up of formulas, and mistakes of logic. It is a good practice (and you get lots of partial credit) to derive formulas using symbols for all quantities. Solve for your unknown and, below this solved equation, write the same equation with numbers and their units for all the symbols.

Answers without units are wrong. In an examination or a quiz, pause at the point of choosing a formula to review your choice. This is the crucial part of problem solving.

All answers must be fully justified by the work shown on the exam. Merely writing down the answer, whether from memory, intuition, or “peeking” will not cut it. No matter how much a student may state it (and truly believe it), knowing something in one’s head or heart does not count; only what is on the paper counts.

The bottom line: Exams and quizzes are methods of communicating what you know to the grader. Take time to SHOW that you know what is going on. Only the written words on the page tell the grader what you know,

Material for quizzes and examinations:

  • Examinations and quizzes are closed book.
  • You may use your copy of the Essential Data and Equations for a Course in Physical Chemistry (also called the handbook) for examinations and quizzes.
  • Do not write anything (notes, formulas, problem solutions, or the like) in your handbook unless you are told to do so by the instructor; it is not a crib sheet. Handbooks may be examined during, before or after exams. Using a handbook containing any unauthorized material is cheating.
  • Bring a calculator and straight edge to exams and quizzes.
  • Programmable calculators are permitted, but, since you must show ALL WORK on the paper, they save little time. Answers without supporting work are worth nothing! You may not store answers or formulas on constants in the calculator before and exam or quiz. Doing so is considered cheating.

Appeals on Grading

If you feel your examination or quiz was not graded correctly, bring this to the attention of the grader no later than 7 days after it is returned to you. The longer you wait, the less likely we will make a change in the grade. No change in grading will be made if the examination or quiz contains erasures or has in any way been altered since its return.The student should be aware that points may be further deducted if further errors are discovered on the exam or quiz. Thus, it behooves the student to carefully consider the “request for points” and frame any inquiries about grading based on sound scientific principles and approach. “Feeling” that “more” points should be awarded, or that “it is obvious what was meant” are not examples of rigorous arguments for these purposes.


Homework problems are graded and assignments are found via the Pearson MyLab and Mastering Chemistry website accessed through the CHEM443 Canvas website.  Homework IS graded. You should expect to put at least nine hours per week outside of class in this course on homework and review of *all* course materials (notes, lectures, problems, web-based resources, etc.) . You are encouraged to work and discuss problems together, but remember that your only help on the exams is your own knowledge. Make sure you understand every step and can solve similar (not analogous) problems; do not just follow along as someone else solves a problem.


Under current University of Delaware Policies, this course is synchronous and as such, students are required to attend real-time lectures for both administrative and pedagogical reasons (the latter being relatively important). It is up to the student to make sure s/he obtains necessary lecture materials. Lectures, in particular, may not be posted immediately after scheduled Lecture times. You are responsible for knowing all material taught in lectures, as well as the assigned readings, including any you miss by an absence from class. Most students find regular class attendance essential to passing the course. If you must be absent for a valid reason on the day of a quiz or examination, contact the instructor before the absence occurs if possible, but within a week of any quiz or examination that is affected, and present your reason for the absence. If reasonable (See below), you may be granted an excused absence. [Only the instructor of your section may give you an excused absence, at his discretion.] The default is an unexcused absence if a paper is not received from a student. It is the responsibility of the student to contact the instructor about absences and to make sure all papers have been properly recorded; if in doubt, talk to the instructor.

There are no make-up examinations or quizzes in this course. Generally quizzes are not given early. Quizzes and examinations missed with an unexcused absence are given a grade of “0”. Quizzes missed because of an excused absence can be made up; please inform instructor of all prior known instances of missing class.  If you miss a midterm examination because of an excused absence, an equivalent grade is substituted for it based on that part of the final examination covering the same material. Do not miss examinations and quizzes needlessly; it may have a significant negative effect on your grade.

The following are examples of valid excuses for absence: (1) required attendance at a university-sanctioned event (band, sports, etc.), (2) representation of the university at regional, national or international meetings, (3) observance of religious holidays, (4) death in the immediate family; (5) personal illness. Desire to go home early for the weekend or to leave for a special occasion are, unfortunately, NOT valid excuses for missing a quiz or examination; the university calendar is quite explicit, and you are expected to plan your time to be at the university for all classes.


Grade Weights:

  • Weekly Quiz Average     = 15% of Final Grade
  • Midterm Exam 1 = 25% of Final Grade
  • Midterm Exam 2 = 25% of Final Grade
  • Final Exam         =  35% of Final Grade

Grade Cutoffs: (in percentages of total points at end of semester)

  • A greater than 90%
  • B greater than 70%
  • C greater than 55%
  • D greater than 45%
  • F below 45%

Note: These are the percentages for the lowest grade “unsigned” grades. No “curve” is used in this course, nor is there any predetermined quota for any grade: we shall (happily) give all A’s or (unhappily) all F’s, if the grades are earned.

Learning Goals

{Numbers in brackets indicate the departmental goals.}

A student who successfully completes CHEM 443 should be able to do the following:

1. Understand the nature of matter at the atomic and molecular level.

2. Apply theoretical principles and mathematical analysis to the solution of problems. {1}

3. Be able to explain clearly reasoning in written examinations. {10}

4. Demonstrate ability to assimilate knowledge (facts and concepts), synthesize, and apply to novel situations and scientific applications.

5. Demonstrate ability to approach scientific inquiry and learning in a critical and rigorous manner.

6. Demonstrate ability to pose well-conceived questions based on prior knowledge and newly acquired facts and concepts.

How to Pass Physical Chemistry

  • This is probably the hardest course you have taken or will ever take, and extensive, consistent work is required to do well in it. Expect to spend 10 to 20 hours per week outside of class studying. We rely on Stanley Kubrick, the film director, (as quoted by Matthew Modine in the New York Times) to tell you what must be done to succeed, and how not to: “People don’t do their homework.” He then goes on to say he has to waste time because “people are not learning what their job is supposed to be” because they haven’t done their homework beforehand. Learning requires practice that can only be done by the learner alone, by careful reading, re-reading, and working of homework; it is as true in learning physical chemistry as it is in any pursuit. Instructors and friends can help, but the student must put in the effort to gain the information and make the connections so necessary to being an educated person.
  • Read assignments before lecture; reread them afterwards. Reading scientific writing is SLOW; one cannot scan and get the information, as one does in reading a novel. It requires reading a sentence and then thinking about the meaning, then reading further, then going back to make the intellectual connections to what one already knows. It is slow, and sometimes boring; but proper study brings great rewards.
  • Attend class regularly; do not fall behind.
  • Do problems! Each assigned problem illustrates an important concept — careful rereading and study of the text is usually required to work problems. You cannot learn by reading or copying problem solutions any more than you can learn to swim or play the piano by watching someone else. Do all the problems assigned; then work some of your own choosing from the others in the chapter!
  • Timing is important. Attempt problems immediately after covering the material; if you can’t do them, reread the material. If you still can’t do a problem, seek help immediately. This is a time-consuming process, but is important for the learning process. You CANNOT learn physical chemistry the night before an examination.
  • Seek help immediately if you cannot work a problem; the instructors and teaching assistants can help, but only if they are aware of the problem.
  • Study all text examples carefully, filling in the missing steps and checking units at all stages. In some cases it will be helpful to work them out using Mathcad.
  • Consider problems to be diagnostic: if you can’t do them, you have missed something important; copying from someone or a book will not help.
  • Students are reminded that, by faculty senate rule, the minimum penalty for cheating is an F for the entire course. Any incident of cheating or suspected cheating will be reported to university authorities for appropriate action.

ClassRoom ETiquette


  • First and foremost, think about professionalism. Treat this course as a job (if you must) and plan to participate in the course as a professional. Develop habits of punctuality, self-discipline, forethought, planning, time-management, initiative, drive, inquisitiveness, perseverance, and critical thinking.
  • Please refrain from talking during class as this may be distracting to your student colleagues as well as the instructor.
  • Please refrain from using electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops, music players (unless needed for purposes of aiding in participating in the class). These are distractions not only to you individually, but also may potentially distract others.
  • Please refrain from getting up during the class (i.e., drink water, stretch, bathroom, etc.). This distracts everyone during class (and in fact, distracts everyone twice, once while you leave, and again while you return).
  • Please prepare to participate in class discussions and actively contribute.
  • Please carry a positive attitude about the course and your abilities. Please strive not to give up regardless of what you perceive as temporally local ‘failures’. Please strive to make a sincere effort to understand course material, not merely ‘get through it’. Sincerity is easily recognized (as is insincerity).
  • Please take responsibility for your actions and words.
  • Please practice ethical behavior.
  • Please remember that you will *earn* a grade, you will not be *given* a grade in this course. Please keep in mind that you will control your performance and success. Just as in a professional setting.
  • Please take responsibility of your success as well as failure. Learn from both error and success.
  • Please be professional. Respect the Course and the personnel associated with the course if you expect to receive and be treated with the same.

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Copyright University of Delaware, 1996-2015.
Last Updated: July 15, 2015
This page maintained by Andrew V. Teplyakov and Cecil Dybowski.