Thermodynamics and Matter - PH323

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
4 15 (7.5) DR JS Urquhart


PH321 Mechanics, PH300 Mathematics are co-requisites.





Static Equilibrium, Elasticity and fluids; Elasticity: stress, strain, Hooke's law, Young's modulus, shear modulus, forces between atoms or molecules, intermolecular potential energy curve, equilibrium separation, Morse and 6-12 potentials, microscopic interpretation of elasticity, relation between Young's modulus and parameters of the interatomic potential energy curve, the nature of interatomic forces, the ionic bond, calculation of the energy to separate the ions in an ionic crystal, viscosity of fluids, Poiseuille's law, Stokes' law.

Thermodynamics; Thermal equilibrium, temperature scales, thermal expansion of solids, relation between thermal expansion and the interatomic potential energy curve, the transfer of thermal energy: conduction, convection, radiation, the ideal-gas law, Boltzmann's constant, Avogadro's number, the universal gas constant. The kinetic theory of gases, pressure of a gas, molecular interpretation of temperature, molecular speeds, mean free path, specific heat, molar specific heat. The equipartition theorem, degrees of freedom. Heat capacities of monatomic and diatomic gases and of solids. Internal energy of a thermodynamic system, the first law of thermodynamics, work and the PV diagram of a gas., work done in an isothermal expansion of an ideal gas. Molar heat capacities of gases at constant pressure and at constant volume and the relation between them. Adiabatic processes for an ideal gas. Heat engines and the Kelvin statement of the second law of thermodynamics, efficiency of a heat engine. Refrigerators and the Clausius statement of the second law of thermodynamics. Equivalence of the Kelvin and Clausius statements. The Carnot cycle, the Kelvin temperature scale.

Atoms; The nuclear atom, Rutherford scattering and the nucleus, Bohr model of the atom, energy level calculation and atom spectra, spectral series for H atom. Limitation of Bohr theory. Molecules.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Lectures (24 hours); workshop sessions (6 hours).


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Coursework 20% ; including class test and homework, involving problem solving.
• Final (written, unseen, length 2 hours) exam 80%.

Preliminary reading

Physics for Scientists and Engineers (6th Ed.); Tipler, P.A. & Mosca, G. (2008).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

  • Knowledge and understanding of laws and principles of thermodynamics and matter, and their application to diverse areas of physics.
  • An ability to identify relevant principles and laws of thermodynamics and matter when dealing with problems, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
  • An ability to solve problems involving thermodynamics and matter using appropriate mathematical tools.
  • An ability to use mathematical techniques and analysis to model behaviour involving thermodynamics and matter.
  • An ability to present and interpret information relating to thermodynamics and matter graphically.
  • An ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources about thermodynamics and matter as part of managing their own learning.
  • Problem-solving skills, in the context of both problems with well-defined solutions and open-ended problems; an ability to formulate problems in precise terms and to identify key issues, and the confidence to try different approaches in order to make progress on challenging problems. Numeracy is subsumed within this area.
  • Analytical skills – associated with the need to pay attention to detail and to develop an ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, to construct logical arguments and to use technical language correctly.

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