Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Thermal Physics and Properties of Matter
Code PHYS102
Coordinator Professor TD Veal
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2021-22 Level 4 FHEQ First Semester 15


The module aims to make the student familiar with
• The concepts of Thermal Physics
• The zeroth, first and second laws of Thermodynamics
• Heat engines
• The kinetic theory of gases
• Entropy
• The equation of state
• Van der Waals equation
• States of matter and state changes
• Mechanical properties of solids
• The basis of statistical mechanics

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Be able to link the microscopic view of a system to its macroscopic state variables

(LO2) Be able to derive and use Maxwell's relations

(LO3) Calculate the linear and volume thermal expansions of materials

(LO4) Analyse the expected performance of heat engines, heat pumps and refrigerators

(LO5) Calculate the heat flow into and work done by a system and how that is constrained by the first law of thermodynamics

(LO7) Understand the PV and PT diagrams for materials and the phase transitions that occur when changing the state variables for materials

(LO9) Use the theory of equipartition to relate the structure of molecules to the measured heat capacity

(LO10) Relate the second law of thermodynamics to the operation of heat engines, heat pumps and refrigerators, particularly the Carnot engine

(LO11) Understand the kinetic theory of gases and calculate properties of gases including the heat capacity and mean free path

(LO12) Understand the basis of entropy and relate this to the second law of thermodynamics and calculate entropy changes

(S1) Problem Solving Skills



Introduction to the thermal physics
• Heat and temperature
• Zeroth law of thermodynamics and thermal equilibrium
• Temperature scales
• Heat capacity
• Latent heats of fusion and vaporisation
• Newton's law of cooling

Mechanical Properties of Materials
• Thermal expansions
• Stress and strain
• Elastic and plastic deformation
• Fracture
• Gas laws and ideal gas equation of state
• Ideal gases and kinetic theory of gases
• Deviations from ideal gas behaviour - Van der Waals equation of state
• Collisions and mean free path
• Equipartition theorem

First Law of thermodynamics and its implications
• Energy in a system
• Work done on a gas
• First law of thermodynamics
• First law appli ed to isochoric, isobaric and isothermal processes
• Heat capacities at constant volume and at constant pressure
• Adiabatic processes

Heat engines and the second law of thermodynamics
• Heat engines, refrigerators and heat pumps
• Coefficient of performance
• Reservoirs
• Second law of thermodynamics: Clausius and Kelvin-Planck statement
• Heat engines and the second law
• Equivalence of the Clausius and Kelvin-Planck statements

Ideal and real engines
• Reversible processes
• Carnot engine and Carnot's theorem
• Otto cycle
• Diesel cycle

Mathematics for Thermal Physics
• Partial differentiation
• Reciprocal and cyclic relations
• Chain rule
• Second order partial derivatives
• Exact and inexact differentials< br/>• State variables

Entropy induced
• Entropy as a thermodynamic state function
• Entropy as an exact differential dS from the inexact differential đQ
• Central Equation of thermodynamics
• Entropy of an ideal gas
• Examples of entropy calculations
• Entropy in Carnot and real engines

Statistical mechanics introduced
• Microstates and macrostates
• A statistical definition of temperature
• A statistical definition of entropy
• Partition function

Maxwell's relations
• Thermodynamic potentials
• Maxwell's relations
• Using Maxwell's relations
• Revisting heat capacities - the general case for all materials
• Revisiting Cp/Cv - the general case
• Free expansion -- Joule coefficient
• Entropy change in free expansion -example of equivalence of classical and statistical entropy
• Throttling expansion -- Joule-Kelvin coefficient - example of use of a thermodynamic potential, H

Phase Transitions
• Phase transitions, pVT surfaces and critical points
• Equilibrium at phase boundaries
• First and second order phase transitions
• Second order phase transitions

Third law of thermodynamics
• Third law of thermodynamics
• Consequences of the third law
• Unattainability of absolute zero

• Revision

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching Method 1 - Lectures delivered online
Description: Lecture
Teaching Method 2 - Workshops
Description: Weekly problem -solving classes, fostering peer interactions.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours           12


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 114


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Open book examination - completed online There is a resit opportunity. Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is an anonymous assessment. Assessment Schedule: Semester 1  120 minutes    60       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Open book coursework assignment- submitted online Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is not an anonymous assessment. Assessment Schedule (When) :First semester  1 hour    20       
Open book coursework - submitted online 10 problem sets Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. Assessment Schedule (When) :First Semester  1 hour    20       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.