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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PHYS5342M Soft Matter Physics: Polymers, Colloids and Glasses

15 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Johan Mattsson

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces

PHYS5431M Soft Matter Characterisation

This module is not approved as an Elective


To relate experimental techniques to theoretical principles;
Demonstrate an understanding of most fundamental laws and principles of physics, along with their application to a variety of areas in physics, some of which are at (or are informed by) the forefront of the discipline;
Solve advanced problems in physics using appropriate mathematical tools;
Use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical behaviour and interpret mathematical descriptions of physical phenomena;
Communicate complex scientific ideas concisely, accurately and informatively;
Manage own learning and make use of appropriate texts, research articles and other primary sources.

Learning outcomes
Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge, understanding and applications of:

1. Structure of polymers
2. Dynamics and viscoelasticity of polymer melts and solutions
3. Glass-formation in soft matter
4. Colloids and colloidal interactions
5. Phase separation in soft matter


- Concepts of soft matter
- Colloids, colloidal forces and interactions
- Colloidal stabilisation
- Colloidal phase diagrams
- Flow-induced effects
- Glasses and amorphous solids
- Thermodynamics and glass-formation, dynamics
- Characterisation of structure in amorphous materials
- Polymer structure/size/configuration and conformations/fractals
- Ideal and non-ideal chains, Flory theory, scaling theory, melts and solutions
- Lattice models
- Rubbers and gels
- Rouse, Zimm, and reptation models
- Rheology and polymer viscoelasticity
- Phase separation in soft matter
- Equilibrium and non-equilibrium phase diagrams of liquid, polymers and colloids
- Applications of polymers, colloids and soft matter

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours22.00
Private study hours112.00
Total Contact hours16.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Preparation for assignments etc

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Regular quizzes

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

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

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 30 mins70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

Students must submit a serious attempt at all assessments for this module, in order to pass the module overall.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:55:13


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