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Theoretical Physics 4A (Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics)

Module PH0008 [ThPh 4A]

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of WS 2022/3 (current)

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
WS 2022/3WS 2021/2WS 2018/9WS 2016/7WS 2015/6WS 2010/1

Basic Information

PH0008 is a semester module in German language at Bachelor’s level which is offered in winter semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Mandatory Modules in Bachelor Programme Physics (5th Semester, All Specializations)

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
270 h 120 h 9 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH0008 is David Egger.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


1) Statistical foundation of the thermodynamics

Microcanonical ensemble, assumption of equal probability, density operator, partition function and entropy, heat and work, temperature, Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution, equipartition theorem, laws of thermodynamics, reversible and irreversible processes, canonical and grand canonical ensembles.

2) Phenomenological thermodynamics

Basic definitions, heat engine and thermodynamic cycle, thermodynamic potentials and stability, Maxwell relations, cooling of gases, Joule–Thomson effect, phases and phase transitions in one-component systems, Clausius–Clapeyron relation, osmosis, van der Waals equation, multicomponent systems.

3) Statistical physics of specific systems in equilibrium

Non-interacting quantum gas: basics, classical limit, gas of molecules, ideal Fermi gas, degenerate Fermi gas, ideal Bose gas, Bose–Einstein condensation, photons, thermodynamics of radiation, phonons, magnetism, Ising model, virial expansion, van der Waals equation.

4) Non-equilibrium thermodynamics

Basic definitions of kinetic theory, Boltzmann equation, Brownian motion, fluctuation-dissipation theorem, particles and heat diffusion, Einstein relation.

Learning Outcome

After successful participation in this module students are able

  1. to explain basic concepts and relations of temperature and heat
  2. to understand basics of statistical mechanics and their implications on thermodynamics
  3. to describe ideal gases and ideal quantum gases
  4. to understand essential properties and different descriptions of interacting gases and fluids as well as to describe their behavior at phase transitions
  5. to gain insight into the non-equilibrium thermodynamics


PH0005, PH0006, PH0007, MA9201, MA9202, MA9203, MA9204

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

Lecture: presentation

Tutorial: The tutorial is held in small groups. In the tutorial the weekly exercises are presented by the students and the tutor. They also provide room for discussions and additional explanations to the lectures.

The courses of the module are offered during the winter semester only. Students taking the repeat exam after the summer semester may visit the courses to PH0012 Theoretical Physics 4B (Thermodynamics and Elements of Statistical Mechanics) to recapitulate the contents at least in parts.


Blackboard or beamer presentation

concurrent material on webpage/moodle


  • M. Kardar, Statistical Physics of Particles, Cambridge University Press
  • F. Reif, Fundamentals of statistical and thermal physics, Mc Graw-Hill
  • T. Fließbach, Statistische Physik, Spektrum, Akad. Verlag
  • W. Nolting, Band 6: Statistische Physik
  • F. Schwabl, Statistische Mechanik
  • Landau, Lifshitz, Pitajewski, Band 5: Statistische Physik, Teil 1

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of about 40 minutes duration. Therein the achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested at least to the given cognition level using comprehension questions and sample calculations.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • Determination of the chemical potential of a perfect gas in the canonical ensemble
  • Presentation of properties of the Ising model

After successful participation in the tutorials a certificate ("Übungsschein") is issued as mid-term. Successful participation is active participation in the tutorials and at least 50% of exercise points.

There will be a bonus (one intermediate stepping of "0,3" to the better grade) on passed module exams (4,3 is not upgraded to 4,0) if a certificate ("Übungsschein") is present before the oral exam.

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester. There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

Current exam dates

Currently TUMonline lists the following exam dates. In addition to the general information above please refer to the current information given during the course.

Exam to Theoretical Physics 4A (Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics)
Mon, 2024-02-05 till 23:55 Dummy-Termin. Wenden Sie sich zur individuellen Terminvereinbarung an die/den Prüfer(in). Anmeldung für Prüfungstermin vor 23.03.2024. // Dummy date. Contact examiner for individual appointment. Registration for exam date before 2024-Mar-23. till 2024-01-15 (cancelation of registration till 2024-02-04)
Mon, 2024-03-25 till 23:55 Dummy-Termin. Wenden Sie sich zur individuellen Terminvereinbarung an die/den Prüfer(in). Anmeldung für Prüfungstermin zwischen 25.03.2024 und 20.04.2024. // Dummy date. Contact examiner for individual appointment. Registration for exam date between 2024-Mar-25 and 2024-Apr-20. till 2024-03-24
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