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2005/06 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHYS2190 Thermal and Statistical Physics

10 creditsClass Size: 150

Module manager: Professor G R Davies

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2005/06


PHYS1041, PHYS1150 and PHYS1160 or equivalent

This module is not approved as an Elective


On completion of this module students should be able to:
- demonstrate their continued attainment of the learning outcomes of PHYS1041 (Thermal Physics);
- use Boltzmann, Fermi-Dirac or Bose-Einstein statistics as appropriate to deduce the thermodynamic properties of systems such as: a simple solid; a paramagnetic solid; a free-electron gas; and black body radiation;
- relate the transport properties of gases to a simple atomistic model using the mean free path concept;
- discuss the concept of entropy from both the thermodynamic and statistical points of view and calculate entropy changes in irreversible processes;
- define Enthalpy, the Helmholtz function and the Gibbs function and discuss their utility;
- state and discuss the four laws of thermodynamics and the various alternative formulations of each law;
- use these laws, and Maxwell relations or the TdS equations to solve thermodynamic problems; and
- describe the phase diagram for a simple material, derive the Clausius-Clapeyron equation and use it to solve problems relating to the change in a phase transition temperature with pressure.

Skills outcomes
Ability to solve problems using thermodynamics and statistical physics.Ability to solve problems using thermodynamics and statistical physics.


Revision of: 0th, 1st and 2nd laws. Revision of entropy as a measure of disorder.
Statistical Physics Macrostates and Microstates. Boltzmann Statistics for distinguishable particles (solids). Partition functions. Specific heats of simple paramagnetic and Einstein solids. Statistics of indistinguishable particles(gases). Density of states. Maxwell-Boltzmann velocity distribution. Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein statistics. Electronic specific heat. Bose-Einstein condensation. Black-body radiation.
Transport properties of gases: viscosity, thermal conductivity and diffusion.
Thermal Physics Revision of: isothermal and adiabatic changes; quasi-static reversible changes; equations of state. Calculation of entropy change in irreversible processes. Joule-Thompson expansion. Thermodynamic potentials: enthalpy, Helmholtz and Gibbs free energies. Maxwell Relations. Problem solving using the TdS equations. Phase equilibrium and the Clausius-Clapeyron equation. Third Law.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Lectures: 22 x 1 hour;

Tutorials: 11 x 1 hour.

Private study

Preparation for tests: 10 hours;
Tutorials: 20 hours;
Reading and final revision: 37 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

3 tests.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

1 x 2 hour written examination at the end of the semester: 70%;
Continuous assessment: 30%.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 19/04/2005


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