Statistical Physics II (PHYS*4240)

Code and section: PHYS*4240*01

Term: Fall 2019

Instructor: Elisabeth Nicol


Course Description

It is assumed that the student has a good knowledge of thermodynamics and some statistical mechanics as introduced in PHYS*2240. You should have a working knowledge of classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and E&M.



Monday, Wednesday, Friday
11:30a - 12:20p
MACN 318


Monday, October 28, 2019
7:00p - 9:00p
MACN 218

Final Exam

Friday, December 13, 2019
7:00p - 9:00p
MACN 318

Instructional Support

Instructor:  Elisabeth Nicol
Telephone:  +1-519-824-4120 x53771
Office:  MACN 329

Course Objectives

This course is a continuation of the study of the laws of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics begun in PHYS*2240, Thermal Physics. Statistical Physics is the study of the physical properties of systems consisting of a very large number of atoms, molecules, or other particles. In spite of the enormous complexity of macroscopic bodies when viewed from an atomistic viewpoint these bodies obey quite definite laws. Macroscopic observable quantities such as temperature and pressure are averages over microscopic properties and the macroscopic laws which these quantities obey are of a statistical nature.

The objectives of this course are to develop an understanding of the statistical nature of the laws of thermodynamics, to examine the basic theory of statistical mechanics and to apply this theory to a wide variety of interesting problems.


Quizzes (best 9 out of 11) – 10%
Assignments – 20%
Midterm Test – 30%
Final Examination – 40%

The final examination has been set for Friday, December 13, 2019 from 7:00pm - 9:00pm, MACN 318

The midterm test is scheduled for Monday, October 28 from 7:00-9:00pm, MACN 318

If the midterm test is missed because of illness or for compassionate reasons, the student should obtain a medical certificate or similar documentation and consult me. There will be eleven ten- minute quizzes. Each will have about 10 multiple choice or short answer questions which will test the material covered in the previous week’s lectures, assignment work, and the Monday lecture before the quiz. The quizzes will be given in the last ten minutes of the Wednesday class starting in the second full week of the course. The best 9 marks out of 11 quizzes will be used to determine the quiz grade out of 10 for the final mark. Therefore, up to two quizzes may be missed without penalty and no make-up quizzes will be offered for missed quizzes. Assignments will be due approximately every two weeks, at beginning of class on the date of the deadline (no late assignments accepted). High presentation standards are expected.


  • Review of thermodynamics 
  • Statistical mechanics of isolated systems 
  • Statistical mechanics of interacting systems 
  • Paramagnetism 
  • Quantum statistics of ideal gases
  • Black-body radiation
  • Heat capacity of solids
  • Bose-Einstein Condensation

Learning Resources

Required Resources

Courselink (Website)
There is no course text. Lecture notes will be posted on Courselink.

Recommended Resources

An Introduction to Thermal Physics (Textbook)
Your thermal text from PHYS*2240 [An Introduction to Thermal Physics, by D.V. Schroeder, (Addison Wesley Longman, 2000)] will also cover some of the course topics.

Additional Resources

Introductory Statistical Mechanics (Textbook)
Roger Bowley and Mariana S´anchez, Introductory Statistical Mechanics, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 1999, Oxford).

Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics (Textbook)
F. Reif, Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics (McGraw-Hill, 1965, QC 175.R43).

Statistical Physics (Textbook)
F. Mandl, Statistical Physics, Second Edition (Wiley, 1988, QC 174.8.M27).

States of Matter (Textbook)
D.L. Goodstein, States of Matter (Prentice Hall, 1975; Dover, 1985, QC 173.3.G66).

Statistical Mechanics (Textbook)
K. Huang, Statistical Mechanics, Second Edition (Wiley, 1987, QC 174.8.H83).

Thermal Physics (Textbook)
C. Kittel and H. Kroemer, Thermal Physics, Second Edition (Freeman, 1980, QC 311.5.K52).

Statistical Physics (Textbook)
L.D. Landau and E.M. Lifshitz, Statistical Physics, Third Edition, Part 1 (Pergamon, 1980, QC 175.L32).

Statistical Mechanics (Textbook)
P.K. Pathria, Statistical Mechanics (Pergamon, 1972, QC 175.P35).


University Statements

Email Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. The grounds for Academic Consideration are detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Drop Date

Students will have until the last day of classes to drop courses without academic penalty. The deadline to drop two-semester courses will be the last day of classes in the second semester. This applies to all students (undergraduate, graduate and diploma) except for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Associate Diploma in Veterinary Technology (conventional and alternative delivery) students. The regulations and procedures for course registration are available in their respective Academic Calendars.

Copies of Out-of-class Assignments

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.


The University promotes the full participation of students who experience disabilities in their academic programs. To that end, the provision of academic accommodation is a shared responsibility between the University and the student.

When accommodations are needed, the student is required to first register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Documentation to substantiate the existence of a disability is required; however, interim accommodations may be possible while that process is underway.

Accommodations are available for both permanent and temporary disabilities. It should be noted that common illnesses such as a cold or the flu do not constitute a disability.

Use of the SAS Exam Centre requires students to book their exams at least 7 days in advance and not later than the 40th Class Day.

For Guelph students, information can be found on the SAS website.

Academic Integrity

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity, and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community-faculty, staff, and students-to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff, and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that encourages academic integrity. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection.

Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

Recording of Materials

Presentations that are made in relation to course work - including lectures - cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a student, or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.


The Academic Calendars are the source of information about the University of Guelph’s procedures, policies, and regulations that apply to undergraduate, graduate, and diploma programs.


Please note:  This is a preliminary web course description. The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description.  An official course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester and/or posted on Courselink.