||Dr L.A. Correa
||15 NICATS / 7.5 ECTS
||162 students (approx)
This module builds on the discussion of thermal properties
in the Stage 1 PHY1024
Properties of Matter module, introduces classical
thermodynamics and shows how its laws arise naturally from the statistical
properties of an ensemble. Real-world examples of the key ideas are presented
and their application in later modules such as
PHY2024 Condensed Matter I and
PHY3070 Stars from Birth to Death
is stressed. The concepts
developed in this module are further extended in the
PHYM001 Statistical Physics module.
The aim of classical thermodynamics is to describe the states and processes of
of systems in terms of macroscopic directly measurable properties. It was largely
developed during the Industrial Revolution for practical purposes, such as improving the
efficiency the steam-engines, and its famous three laws are empirically based.
The aim of statistical mechanics, which had major contributions from Maxwell,
Boltzmann and Gibbs, is to demonstrate that statistical methods can
predict the bulk thermal properties of a system from an atomistic description of matter.
The theory provides the only tractable means of analysing the almost unimaginable
complexity of an N-body system containing 1023
particles. The classical second law of thermodynamics finds a natural explanation
in terms of the evolution of a system from the less probable to the more
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
A student who has passed this module should be able to:
Module Specific Skills and Knowledge:
- explain the nature of classical entropy, and its relationship to the second law of thermodynamics;
- determine the maximum efficiency of simple heat-engines and heat pumps;
- calculate the equilibrium energy distribution of a system using the Boltzmann distribution;
- explain the origin of the second law from a statistical viewpoint;
- describe the significance of various thermodynamic potentials and deduce relations between them;
- demonstrate, by calculating certain properties of real gases, an understanding of the limitations of the ideal gas law;
- calculate bulk thermodynamic properties such as heat capacity, entropy and free energy from the partition function;
- predict whether a gas constitutes a classical or a quantal gas, and explain key differences in the behaviour of these;
Discipline Specific Skills and Knowledge:
- use calculus to calculate maximum and minimun values of constrained multivariable systems;
- use graphs and diagrams to illustrate arguments and explanations;
Personal and Key Transferable / Employment Skills and Knowledge:
- use a range of resources to develop an understanding of topics through independent study;
- solve problems;
- apply general concepts to a wide range of specfic systems and situations;
- meet deadlines for completion of work for problems classes and develop appropriate
- Brief historical survey.
- Temperature: thermodynamic equilibrium and the Zeroth Law; temperature and heat.
- Ideal gases: quasistatic and reversible processes; reversible work.
- Internal energy: adiabatic work; equivalence of work and heat; the First Law.
- Thermal engines: the Second Law; heat-engine cycle analysis; Carnot's theorem.
- Entropy: Clausius theorem; entropy; maximum-entropy principle.
- Thermodynamic potentials
- Energetic potentials, Legendre transform, Maxwell relations.
- Entropic potentials, physical interpretations, stability.
- Real gases: Joule–Thomson expasion; the van der Waals gas.
- Phase transitions
- Theory of saturated vapours.
- Clapeyron's equations, classification of phase transitions.
- Nernst's postulate: the Third Law; unattainability principle.
- Boltzmann's principle
- Non-interacting gases, statistical entropy, the partition function.
- Connection with thermodynamics, Boltzmann's factor, the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution.
- Specific heat: The monoatomic and diatomic ideal gas.
- Quantum gases
- Bose–Einstein and Fermi–Dirac statistics.
- Planck's radiation law, the electron-gas model.
Learning and Teaching
Learning Activities and Teaching Methods
|5×6-hour self-study packages
|8×2-hour problems sets
|Problems class support
|Reading, private study and revision
||Exercises set by tutor
||3×1-hour sets (typical)
||Scheduled by tutor
||Discussion in tutorials
||Discussion in tutorials
||8 × Problems sets
||2 hours per set
||Marked in problems class, then discussed in tutorials
||Marked, then discussed in tutorials
||May/June assessment period
||Mark via MyExeter, collective feedback via ELE and solutions.
The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of information that
students are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Instructor(s).
1960), Thermodynamics: An Introduction to the Physical Theories of Equilibrium Thermostatics & Irreversible Thermodynamics, Wiley, ISBN 0-471-13035-4 (UL: 536.7 CAL)
1956), Thermodynamics, Prentic Hall, ISBN 978-0-486-60361-2 (UL: eBook)
1988), Statistical Physics (2nd edition), John Wiley, ISBN 978-0-471-91533-1 (UL: 530.132 MAN)
1964), Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, Academic Press, ISBN 0-126-54680-0 (UL: 530 SOM)
1981), Heat and Thermodynamics : An Intermediate Textbook (6th edition), McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0-070-72808-9 (UL: 536.7 ZEM)
Prior Knowledge Requirements
||Properties of Matter (PHY1024) and Mathematics for Physicists (PHY1026)
||Mathematics with Physical Applications (PHY2025)
Re-assessment is not available except when required by referral or deferral.
|Original form of assessment
||Form of re-assessment
||Time scale for re-assessment
||Written examination (100%)
||August/September assessment period
Notes: See Physics Assessment Conventions.
KIS Data Summary
|Learning activities and teaching methods|
|SLT - scheduled learning & teaching activities
|GIS - guided independent study
|PLS - placement/study abroad
|IoP Accreditation Checklist
- TD-01 Zeroth, first and second laws of thermodynamics
- TD-02 Temperature scales, work, internal energy and heat capacity
- TD-03 Entropy, free energies and the Carnot Cycle
- TD-04 Changes of state
- SM-02 Statistical basis of entropy
- SM-03 Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution
- SM-04 Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac distributions
- SM-05 Density of states and partition function
||Physics; Thermodynamics; Properties; Heat; Energy; System; State; Distribution; Boltzmann; Entropy; Functions.