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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHYS3441 Statistical Mechanics

15 creditsClass Size: 80

Module manager: Dr S A Harris

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as a discovery module


Upon completion of this module the student should be able to:

- Define and calculate the partition function for simple non-interacting systems.
- Calculate averages of quantities for non-interacting statistical systems.
- Describe and use the microcanonical, canonical, and grand canonical ensembles.
- Use the Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac distribution functions to calculate thermodynamic quantities.
- Describe and use the mean field approximation (e.g. to study magnetic systems).
- Use numerical methods to calculate statistical physics quantities

Skills outcomes
Logical thought.
Problem solving.


1. Statistics and large systems, classical and quantum phase space, ergodicity.
2. Ensembles (microcanonical, canonical, grand canonical), Boltzmann and Gibbs distributions, entropy. Examples from magnets, electron gas and black-body radiation.
3. Interacting systems. Liquids, Debye theory of heat capacity.
4. Phase Transitions, Phase coexistence and phase separation .
5. Numerical methods in statistical mechanics

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours78.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Study: 66 hours;
Self-study examples: 12 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Self-study examples sheets with worked example sheets to follow.

Methods of assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 30 mins100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 08/03/2019


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