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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHYS3441 Statistical Mechanics

15 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Sarah Harris

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

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

Online exercises

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Online AssessmentOnline Mid-Term Assessment20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)20.00

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

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment2 hr 00 mins80.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)80.00

Students will have to complete an online assessment at the end of the module. This will take place during the examinations period at the end of the semester and will be time bound. Students must submit a reasonable attempt at all assessments for this module to pass this module.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 13/07/2021 12:50:48


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