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Statistical Physics a


Admission Requirements

Bachelor in Physics and knowledge of basic statistical mechanics.


The course provides an introduction to phase transitions and critical phenomena in equilibrium systems and represents the first part of a two-part introductory courses on emergent phenomena in equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical physics. The second (elective) part of this course is given in Statistical Physics b and is focused on emergent phenomena in non-equilibrium systems (i.e. collective motion in animals and other biological systems etc.)


  • Introduction to phase transitions and critical phenomena in statistical mechanics.

  • The one-dimensional Ising model: exact solution via transfer matrix method.

  • The two-dimensional Ising model: domain walls and Peierls’ argument.

  • Mean field theory.

  • Fluctuations theory and field-theoretical approach to critical phenomena.

  • Universality, scaling and critical dimensions.

  • Real-space renormalization group.

  • Momentum-shell renormalization group and ε-expansion.

Course Objectives

The aim of the course is develop a strong foundation in advanced statistical mechanics with an emphasis on emergent phenomena. Furthermore, the course aims to provide the students with a toolbox of mathematical techniques that can be readily used in theoretical and experimental research projects.


Physics Schedule

Mode of instruction

Lectures and tutorials.

Assessment method

Final exam with open questions and homework assignments for bonus points.


To have access to Blackboard you need a ULCN-account.Blackboard UL

Reading list

Nigel Goldenfeld, Lectures of phase transitions and the renormalization group (Perseus Books, 1992).


Lecturer: Dr. Luca Giomi