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Thermal physics and statistical mechanics is concerned with the study of macroscopic and mesoscopic systems.  Both aim to understand the properties of systems and processes that occur in such systems. Statistical mechanics links mesoscopic and macroscopic properties of systems of matter and radiation with the fundamental microscopic physics (classical and quantum mechanics).  It puts the concepts of thermodynamics on a firm foundation of  mechanics.  Its importance in the development of modern physics, from  the  understanding  of stars to the smallest transistor, cannot be overestimated.  Topics to be covered include: Classical thermodynamics. Kinetic theory of gases, ideal gas, van der Waals gas. First law of thermodynamics.  Heat engines, Carnot cycle, Carnot’s theorem.  Classical entropy, second law of thermodynamics. Third law of thermodynamics. Postulate approach to classical thermodynamics, fundamental 1° equation and its consequences. Alternative formulations, thermodynamic potentials, Legendre transforms, Maxwell’s relations. Phase transitions stability criteria, Clausius-Clapeyron equation, Gibbs phase rule. Thermodynamic probability, Boltzmann entropy. Boltzmann distribution, Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein distributions. Partition function. Micro-canonical, canonical and grand canonical ensembles. Heat capacity of diatomics, Einstein and Debye models, phonons. Paramagnetism. Blackbody radiation. Bose-Einstein condensation, liquid helium. Fermi energy, free electrons and the Fermi gas.

Study Level


Offering Terms

Term 1



Delivery Mode

Fully on-site

Indicative contact hours


Conditions for Enrolment

Prerequisite: PHYS2111 or PHYS2110 Exclusion: PHYS2210, PHYS3021

Course Outline

To access course outline, please visit:


Pre-2019 Handbook Editions

Access past handbook editions (2018 and prior)

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