Statistical Physics I (PHYS*3240)

Code and section: PHYS*3240*01

Term: Fall 2015

Instructor: Xiaorong Qin


Course Information

Calendar Descriptions

Introduction to statistical physics including thermodynamics and statistical mechanics of equilibrium phenomena.
Prerequisite: MATH*2220, (PHYS*2260 or PHYS*2440)


Lecturer Office Extension Email
Xiaorong Qin MacN 449 53675


Day Time Location
Tuesday, Thursday 10:00 – 11:20 am Room – JTP 212

Course Materials

Required Text

  • “Concepts in Thermal Physics” (Second Edition), S. J. Blundell and K. M. Blundell, Oxford University Press, 2010 (ISBN 978-0-19-956210-7)

Other References

  1. “An introduction to Thermal Physics”, D. V. Schroeder, Addison Wesley Longman, 2000. (ISBN 0-201-38027-7)
  2. “Thermal Physics” (Second Edition), C.B.P. Finn, Nelson Thornes, 1993. (ISBN 0-7487-4379-0)
  3. “Equilibrium Thermodynamics” (Third Edition), C.J. Adkins, Cambridge University Press, 1983. (ISBN 0-521-27456-7)


Scheme Assignments Mid-term Final Exam
1 25% 35% (~ Oct 15) 40%
2 25% 25% (~ Oct 15) 50%


  1. We take the best evaluation result for you.
  2. Class participation (quizzes) = up to extra 2%.
  3. 10% deduction per day for lateness on assignments.

Major Lecture Topics

  • Equilibrium systems and equations of state --- introduction to thermodynamic variables, stability, math review, isothermal, adiabatic and reversible processes
  • First law of thermodynamics --- specific heat, work, applications of the first law, steady flow processes, heat engines
  • Second law of thermodynamics --- entropy and entropy change, consequences of second law, thermodynamic potentials and Maxwell relations, phase equilibrium and phase diagrams, Clausius-Clapeyron equation, open systems, chemical potential
  • Irreversible processes --- Joule and Joule-Thompson expansion
  • Basic probability concepts --- Boltzmann formula for entropy
  • Statistics and partition functions --- perfect monatomic gas, perfect quantum gas, van der Waals fluid, diatomic perfect gas
  • Black body radiation --- calculation of thermodynamic quantities, Planck function, imperfect radiators

Course Policies

Collaboration versus Copying

You are encouraged to discuss with others as you learn the material and work on the assignments. However, the work you submit must be your own (your understanding written in your own way) and not a copy of someone else's work.

Medical Certificate

Not generally required. However, if you miss a TEST or EXAM, then you should see your College Counselor and get a note from him/her.

Academic misconduct

The University of Guelph takes a serious view of academic misconduct and will severely penalize students, faculty and staff who are found guilty of offenses associated with misappropriation of others' work, misrepresentation of personal performance and fraud, improper access to scholarly resources, and obstructing others in pursuit of their academic endeavors. Each student is assumed to be familiar with the regulations surrounding academic misconducts, as spelled out in the Undergraduate Calendar.