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Statistical Physics 1


Admission requirements

Classical Mechanics a, Optics, Diffusion, Analysis1na, Linear Algebra1na, Analysis2na


Statistical Physics builds a bridge between the microscopic world of, for instance, atoms and molecules and the resulting collective behavior at the macroscopic level, that is described by thermodynamics, The concept of temperature and the fact that a very large number of particles is involved play crucial roles in making this work. Using probability theory and the Gibbs theory of ensembles the statistical physics of
systems in equilibrium is developed and applied to gases and other examples, such as rubber and magnetic systems.

Course objectives

After finishing the course you are able to perform calculations and short derivations concerning the following topics in statistical physics:

  • Thermal equilibrium, principle of equal probability

  • Entropy, temperature, microcanonical ensemble

  • Free energy, canonical ensemble, partition function, Maxwell relations

  • Ideal gases, pressure, phase space, degrees of freedom

  • Elasticity of rubber

  • Magnetic systems, magnetisation and susceptibility, heat capacity, Ising model, mean-field approximation

  • Grand canonical ensemble



Mode of instruction

Lectures, problem sessions

Course Load

Assessment method

Written exam with open questions (closed book).


Material and communication concerning the course is provided via Blackboard.

To access Blackboard you need your ULCN-account Blackboard UL

Reading list

An Introduction to Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics, R.H. Swendsen (Oxford University Press, 2012). ISBN 978-0-19-964694-4 (mandatory)


Contactgegevens Docent:Dr.P. Denteneer (Peter)