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Statistical Physics (PHYC30017)

Undergraduate level 3Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 3
Subject codePHYC30017
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Statistical mechanics, the microscopic basis of classical thermodynamics, is developed in this subject. It is one of the core areas of physics, finding wide application in solid state physics, astrophysics, plasma physics and cosmology.

Using fundamental ideas from quantum physics, a systematic treatment of statistical mechanics is developed for systems in equilibrium. The content of this subject includes ensembles and the basic postulate; the statistical basis of the second and third laws of thermodynamics; canonical, micro-canonical and grand-canonical ensembles and associated statistical and thermodynamic functions; ideal quantum gases; black body radiation; the classical limit and an introduction to real gases and applications to solid state physics.

Intended learning outcomes

Students completing this subject should be able to:

  • explain the statistical basis of the second and third laws of thermodynamics and the application of statistical mechanics to a range of problems in physics;
  • calculate statistical and thermodynamic functions using the canonical, micro-canonical and grand-canonical ensembles; and
  • analyse and interpret mathematical expressions obtained in these calculations.

Generic skills

A student who completes this subject should be able to:

  • analyse how to solve a problem by applying simple fundamental laws to more complicated situations.
  • apply abstract concepts to real-world situations.
  • solve relatively complicated problems using approximations.
  • participate as an effective member of a group in tutorial discussions
  • manage time effectively in order to be prepared for tutorial classes, undertake the written assignments and the examination.

Eligibility and requirements



Both of

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
PHYC20010 Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity
Year Long
PHYC20009 Thermal and Classical Physics
Semester 1


Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
PHYC20012 Quantum and Thermal Physics
Semester 1

And Mathematics

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
MAST20009 Vector Calculus
Semester 1
Semester 2

And at least one of

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
MAST10009 Accelerated Mathematics 2
Semester 2
MAST20026 Real Analysis
Semester 1
Semester 2
MAST20030 Differential Equations
Semester 2



Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Additional details

Two assignments each equivalent to 1500 words during the semester (10% each) and a 3-hour written examination in the examination period (80%).

Dates & times

  • Semester 2
    Principal coordinatorAndy Martin
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours2 to 4 hours per week, 36 in total, lectures and problem-solving classes
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period29 July 2019 to 27 October 2019
    Last self-enrol date 9 August 2019
    Census date31 August 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail27 September 2019
    Assessment period ends22 November 2019

    Semester 2 contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours total time commitment.

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    D J Amit and Y Verbin, Statistical Physics: An Introductory Course, World Scientific

    Recommended texts and other resources

    K Huang, Introduction to Statistical Physics, Taylor and Francis

  • Subject notes

    This subject is available for science credit to students enrolled in the BSc (both pre-2008 and new degrees), BASc or a combined BSc course.

  • Breadth options
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 10 August 2019