Theoretical Physics 4B (Thermodynamics and Elements of Statistical Mechanics)

Module PH0012 [ThPh 4B]

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 SS 2016 (current)

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

available module versions
SS 2016WS 2010/1

Basic Information

PH0012 is a semester module in German language at Bachelor’s level which is offered in summer semester.

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

  • Physics Modules for Students of Education

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 90 h 9 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH0012 is Alejandro Ibarra.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


Temperature and heat

  1. Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution, ideal gas law, temperature and pressure
  2. work, heat, entropy, thermodynamical processes

Fundamentals of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics

  1. QM many particle systems, density operators
  2. entropy, thermal equilibrium, microcanonical distribution
  3. canonical distribution, partition functions
  4. thermodynamic potentials, stability
  5. Jarzynski-Crooks fluctuation theorem

Ideal gases

  1. interaction-free quantum gases, classical limes
  2. degenerate fermi and bose gas
  3. bose einstein condensate
  4. photons, thermodynamics of radiation, phonons

Interacting gases, liquids, phase transitions

  1. virial expansion, van der Waals equation, phase equilibrium
  2. pair correlation, structure factor
  3. Poisson-Boltzmann and Debye-Hückel theory
  4. lattice gas and Ising model

  5. molecular field approximation, Ginzburg-Landau theory, critical exponents

Non equilibrium thermodynamics

  1. brownian motion, fluctuation dissipation theorem
  2. particle and heat diffusion, Einstein relation

Learning Outcome

After successful participation, students are able to

  1. know the fundamental terms of temperature and heat and master the corresponding relations
  2. comprehend the basics of statistical mechanics and their consequences for thermodynamics
  3. describe ideal (quantum) gases
  4. know important properties and descriptions of interacting gases and liquids as well as the behaviour at phase transitions
  5. reproduce an insight into processes of non equilibrium thermodynamics


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

for students studying master of science education mathematics / physics: PH0005, PH0006, PH0007, MA1003, MA1004, MA1103, MA1104

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VU 6 Theoretische Physik 4B (Thermodynamik und Statistische Mechanik) Ibarra, A. Dienstag, 10:00–12:00
Donnerstag, 10:00–12:00
sowie Termine in Gruppen

Learning and Teaching Methods

teacher-centred teaching

Special topics tutorials:
teacher-centered teaching with sample calculations
solutions for problem sheets, discussions and explanations


Blackboard or powerpoint presentation
accompanying informations on-line


D.V. Schroeder: An Introduction to Thermal Physics (Addison Wesley 2000)
R. Balian: From Microphysics to Macrophysics (Springer 1991)
L.D. Landau / E.M. Lifschitz: Lehrbuch der Theoretischen Physik, Band V
S. K. Ma, Statistical Mechanics (World Scientific 1985)
R. K. Pathria, Statistical Mechanics, 2nd Edition (Butterworth Heinemann 1996)
T. Fließbach, Statistische Physik, Spektrum Wissenschaftlicher Verlag

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

The module exam consists of an oral exam. In this exam students have to show that they have comprehended the fundamentals of statistical mechanics and that they are able to deduce from this the macroscopic laws of thermodynamics.

Exam Repetition

There is a possibility to take the exam at the end of the semester.

Condensed Matter

When atoms interact things can get interesting. Fundamental research on the underlying properties of materials and nanostructures and exploration of the potential they provide for applications.

Nuclei, Particles, Astrophysics

A journey of discovery to understanding our world at the subatomic scale, from the nuclei inside atoms down to the most elementary building blocks of matter. Are you ready for the adventure?


Biological systems, from proteins to living cells and organisms, obey physical principles. Our research groups in biophysics shape one of Germany's largest scientific clusters in this area.