Course Title: Thermal & Statistical Physics

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Thermal & Statistical Physics

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2021

Course Coordinator: Prof. Peter Daivis

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3393

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 014.06.006

Course Coordinator Availability: Please email to make an appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

It is assumed that you have acquired the knowledge and capabilities developed in PHYS2128 Electromagnetics and Quantum Physics, PHYS2127 Thermodynamics and Electromagnetism, PHYS1077 Mechanics & Modern Physics and MATH1129 Mathematics for Physicists.

Course Description

Thermal and Statistical Physics deals with 1. equilibrium thermodynamics and its applications and 2. the link between the atomic structure of matter and its macroscopic thermal behaviour and properties. It has wide applicability to almost all areas of science and technology particularly those that deal with the properties of materials.
This is a final year undergraduate course and assumes a successful completion of the first two years of a physics degree. It covers the physical understanding of matter from an atomic view point as well as introducing the fundamentals upon which modern computer modelling of matter is based.
The course has a theoretical lecture component and also involves worked exercises to illustrate the material which the student should work through in order to fully understand this theoretical material.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes for BP229 and BP247:

PLO 1: Understanding science: 

PLO 1.1:  You will demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method and an ability to apply the scientific method in practice.

PLO 1.2: You will demonstrate an understanding of the role and relevance of science in society.

PLO 1.3: You will demonstrate an understanding of the role and importance of evidence in the continuous evolution of scientific knowledge. 

PLO-2: Scientific knowledge

PLO 2.1:  You will have broad knowledge in your chosen discipline, with deep knowledge in its core concepts.

PLO-3: Inquiry and Problem Solving

PLO 3.2: You will be able to gather, critically review and synthesise information relevant to a scientific inquiry or research project.

PLO 3.3:  You will be able to choose appropriate tools and methods to solve scientific problems within your area of specialization.

PLO 3.4: You will demonstrate well-developed problem solving skills, applying your knowledge and using your ability to think analytically and creatively.

PLO-4: Communication

PLO 4.1: You will be able to communicate the solution to a problem or the results of a scientific investigation using effective oral, written and presentation skills.

PLO-5: Personal and professional responsibility

PLO 5.1: You will develop a capacity for independent and self-directed work.

PLO 5.2: You will work responsibly, safely, legally and ethically.

PLO 5.3: You will develop an ability to work collaboratively.

After completing this course you will be able to:

  1. Apply intermediate level knowledge in the area of thermal and statistical physics
  2. Analyse and solve problems in the areas of thermal and statistical physics
  3. Communicate the results of experiments
  4. Evaluate the molecular basis of the thermodynamic laws and properties;
  5. Review the basic atomic models of gases, liquids, solids and phase transitions;
  6. Apply statistical mechanical techniques to a variety of applied problems such as equation of state and heat capacity modelling.

Overview of Learning Activities

Learning will occur through a series of recorded lectures, plus a set of assignments designed to give experience in applications and to illustrate basic concepts.

Overview of Learning Resources

You will be provided with copies of lecture notes and additional materials in class. Lists of relevant reference texts and resources in the library will also be provided.

Overview of Assessment

This course has no hurdle requirements.

The assessment will be through:

Assessment item 1: Assignments

Weighting 30%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 4, 5

Assessment item 2: Laboratory

Weighting 30%

This assessment task supports  CLO 3

Assessment item 3: Skills and capability assessment (Thermal Physics)

Weighting 20%

This assessment task supports  CLOs 1, 2, 4, 5

Assessment item 4: Skills and capability assessment (Statistical Mechanics)

Weighting 20%

This assessment task supports  CLOs 1, 2, 4, 5, 6