Statistical Physics II (PHYS*4240)

Code and section: PHYS*4240*01

Term: Fall 2010

Instructor: Michael Massa


Course Information

This course is a continuation of PHYS*3240 (Statistical Physics I). It focuses primarily on techniques of statistical mechanics and their applications to simple physical systems (such as the ideal gas in the classical and quantum regimes, and paramagnetic systems).


PHYS*3240 (Statistical Physics I)
PHYS*3230 (Quantum Mechanics I)


Lecturer Office Extension Email
Mike Massa MacN 404 52625


Day Time Location
Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays 10:30 - 11:20 MACN 118

Course Material

Suggested Texts

  • PHYS*4240 Lecture Notes (prepared by E. Poisson for this course) is highly recommended. Course material will primarily follow the material laid out in selected sections of these notes. (Available for sale in SCIE 1101A until Sept. 16th).
  • R. Bowley and M. Sanchez, Introductory Statistical Mechanics, Second Edition (Oxford University Press, 1999). This is available for purchase in the Bookstore.
  • There are other textbooks on thermodynamics & statistical physics that you may find useful, especially Fundmentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics by F. Reif. See also the QC311 section of the library.

Course Topics

Within the PHYS*4240 Lecture Notes, Chapters 1-3, 5-7 constitute the core of this course:

  1. Review of thermodynamics
  2. Statistical mechanics of isolated systems
  3. Statistical mechanics of interacting systems
  4. Information theory
  5. Paramagnetism
  6. Quantum statistics of ideal gases
  7. Black-body radiation

Some of these topics may be expanded beyond what is contained within the Lecture Notes, and if time permits, additional topics will be discussed.


Grades will be based on homework assignments, a closed-book midterm exam, and a closed-book final exam. There are two possible mark distributions, shown below. Your final mark will be the better of the two marks calculated under the two schemes. No other marking scheme will be considered.
You are permitted to discuss the homework problems with your colleagues while trying to solve them. However, and this is important, after the discussions you must write up the solutions yourself, independently of anyone else. Cheating will not be tolerated.

The final exam will be written outside of normal class times, as may be the case for midterm testing. The tests will be closed-book exams, meaning that you will not be allowed to consult your notes nor any other sources during the exams. You will, however, be provided with relevant material such as a formula sheet. The scheduling of the midterm exam will be decided during the first few weeks of class.

Assessment Scheme A Scheme B
Homework Assignments 25% 25%
Midterm Tests (TBA) 35% 25%
Final Examination
(Thursday, December 9 – 8:30-10:30 am)
40% 50%
Total 100% 100%

The homework will consist of problems to be submitted for grading. The homework is due at the beginning of class on the due date for the homework. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, marks will be deducted for lateness (10% per day). Marks will also be deducted for errors in English grammar and spelling in all work submitted for grading.

Course Policies

Course Evaluation

The Department of Physics requires student assessment of all courses taught by the Department. These assessments provide essential feedback to faculty on their teaching by identifying both strengths and possible areas of improvement. In addition, annual student assessment of teaching provides part of the information used by the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee in evaluating the faculty member's contribution in the area of teaching.

The Department's teaching evaluation questionnaire invites student response both through numerically quantifiable data, and written student comments. In conformity with University of Guelph Faculty Policy, the Department Tenure and Promotions Committee only consider comments signed by students (choosing "I agree" in question 14). Your instructor will see all signed and unsigned comments after final grades are submitted. Written student comments may also be used in support of a nomination for internal and external teaching awards.

NOTE: No information will be passed on to the instructor until after the final grades have been submitted.