Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

This module is inactive in the selected year. The information shown below is for the academic year that the module was last running in, prior to the year selected.

2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MATH5424M Advanced Entropy in the Physical World

20 creditsClass Size: 54

Module manager: Dr Mike Evans; Dr Steve Fitzgerald

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

[MATH1005 or (MATH1010 and MATH1012)] or [MATH1050 and MATH1400 and (MATH1060 or MATH1331)].

Students should have some prior experience of using the concepts of energy, and conservation of energy, in modelling mechanical or physical systems. Such experience could, for example, have been gained in MATH1012, or in A-level mechanics modules. Knowledge of statistics is assumed, although a statistics primer document will be provided, including probability distributions and density functions, expectation values, variance and standard deviation.

This module is mutually exclusive with

MATH3424Introduction to Entropy in the Physical World

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

The material world is composed of countless microscopic particles. When three or more particles interact, their dynamics is chaotic, and impossible to predict in detail. So, why is it that the materials around us behave in predictable and regular ways? The answer lies in the fact that disordered behaviour on the microscopic scale gives rise to collective behaviour that can be predicted with practical certainty, guided by the principle that the total disorder (or entropy) of the universe never decreases. This module studies calculations involving entropy, as applied to the matter that makes up our world.


Upon completion of the module, students will:
- have gained an understanding of how the macroscopic properties of matter emerge from the microscopic processes within it;
- appreciate the need for a statistical approach to the dynamics of interacting systems involving large numbers of degrees of freedom;
- understand what entropy is and how it is related to disorder;
- be able to apply the methods of statistical mechanics in calculations for microscopic models of classical physical systems;
- understand how entropy determines the "arrow of time" via the direction of physical processes.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students should be able to:
- define and evaluate entropies;
- know and use the statistical definition of temperature;
- calculate expectation values in microscopic and continuum models using Boltzmann's law;
- find the partition function for a number of idealized models;
- apply mathematical descriptions of diffusion, including use of lto calculus.


Introduction to statistical solution of the many-body problem.
Qualitative introduction to phase transitions and ergodicity.
Classical definitions of entropy.
The arrow of time.
Microcanonical and canonical ensembles; Stirling's formula, Boltzmann's law and the partition function.
Calculation of expectation values.
Specific microscopic models of physical systems, to include:
- 2-state isolated system;
- Classical ideal gas;
- Lattice models.
Introduction to mean-field theory.
Mathematical description of diffusion and Brownian motion, and relationship with concepts of entropy (i) relationship between diffusion and random walks; (ii) the diffusion equation; (iii) Wiener processes and stochastic calculus; (iv) the Langevin equation and Einstein relation; (v) diffusion in a potential.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours156.00
Total Contact hours44.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Studying and revising of course material.
Completing of formative written exercises (problem sheets).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Feedback on formative written exercises (problem sheets).

Methods of assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Open Book exam3 hr 100.00
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: 28/04/2023 14:54:43


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019