nl en

Computational Physics (6 EC)


Admission Requirements

Knowledge of statistical physics is expected, as well as basic programming skills.


An important aspect of physics research is modeling: complex physical systems are simplified through a sequence of controlled approximations to a model that lends itself for computations, either analytic or by computer. In this course, the origin of a number of widely used models will be discussed. Polymers are often modeled by random walks and the liquid-gas transition can be studied for the Lennard-Jones system of particles. Insight into these models can be obtained through a number of ways, one of which is computer simulation. During the course, simulation methods for these models will be discussed in the lectures as well as in computer lab sessions.

Course objectives

Being able to perform research projects in computational physics. This involves writing simulation programs, running these programs with well-chosen parameters, analyzing the results in such a way that physics questions can be addressed, and presenting these results in reports and oral presentations meeting generally accepted scientific standards.
Note: The course is offered in a short (3 EC) and in a long (6 EC) version; the long version is recommended for students who expect to go into performing computational research projects in the future whereas the short version (first half of the course) is recommended for all students."


Physics Schedule

Mode of instruction

One meeting per week, consisting of a mixture of lectures and supervised working on the projects. There will be online learning material as well.
The main emphasis of the course are the computational projects that are mostly performed outside the regular contact hours. In a hands-on approach, concepts are immediately applied to a concrete problem. The basic concepts taught in the lecture will be deepened by the students individually in setting up and running the simulations, and by independent literature study.

Assessment method

The students (working in pairs) produce two reports, one on self-avoiding walks and one on phase transitions. A third project is chosen from a set of problems and presented as a talk.
The final grade is the average of the grades for these three projects.


Course material & assignments are placed on Blackboard.
To have access to Blackboard you need a ULCN-account.Blackboard UL

Reading list

see Blackboard

Contact information

Prof.dr.Helmut Schiessel Dr. Michael Wimmer