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Statistical Physics 1


Admission requirements

Successful completion the 1st year of the BSc program in physics. In particular: Classical Mechanics (a), Electromagnetic Fields, Analysis 1&2, Linear Algebra 1


Statistical Physics builds a bridge between the microscopic world of atoms, molecules, objects, and the resulting collective behavior at the macroscopic level, be it a material, an organism, the universe. Using probability theory we will develop the notion of entropy. The principle of maximum entropy allows us to develop the statistical physics of systems in equilibrium, and define temperature as a physical quantity. Thermodynamics will be presented as emergent description of the concepts of statistical physics. The concepts are applied to gases, and to other examples in solid materials, biophysics, and astonomy.

Course objectives

After finishing the course you are able to analyze unknown problems by applying statistical physics concepts:

  • probability theory, phase space

  • entropy, thermal equilibrium

  • microcanonical ensemble, canonical ensemble, grand canonical ensemble

  • ensemble equivalence

  • classical and quantum harmonic oscillator

  • thermodynamic potentials, energy representation

  • Helmholtz free energy, Gibbs free energy

  • ideal gas law, heat engine, Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution

  • mean field approximation, Ising model

  • phase transitions


For detailed information go to Timetable in Brightspace

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For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different

Mode of instruction

Lectures, self-study of written material, self-study of video material, tutorial sessions, weekly homework sets. The course is taught in English.
See Brightspace

Assessment method

Written exam with open questions. Bonus points are earned from homework problems.

Reading list

R.H. Swendsen, 'An Introduction to Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics', Oxford University Press.


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Lecturer:Prof. dr. T Schmidt