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Fluids without Collisions: Introduction to Kinetic Plasma Physics

Module PH2038

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.

Basic Information

PH2038 is a semester module in English or German language at Master’s level which is offered in summer semester.

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

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 40 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2038 is Klaus Hallatschek.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


In hot or thin plasmas, such as in space or in fusion plasmas, particles collide so rare that no Boltzmann distribution isreached . The usual fluid equations (Navier-Stokes, MHD) fail and it is necessary to track the behavior of individual particle populations - that is, to use a kinetic description. Surprisingly, the particles do not simply move independently. The free charge carriers in the plasma interact by collective electric and magnetic fields, which leads to plenty of  phenomena unknown for ordinary liquids and novel theoretical description approaches. 

The following basic phenomena and effects are discussed:

  • Plasma turbulence
  • Reconnection
  • Hierarchy of kinetic equations
  • Landau damping and phase mixing
  • Kinetic instabilities
  • Plasma waves
  • Larmorradiuseffekte and Gyrokinetik
  • Drift waves

Learning Outcome

After successful completion of this module, the students are able to understand and to explain

  1. The kinetic equation hierarchy and the main consequences, and its scope of application
  2. Landau damping and phase mixing
  3. Kinetic instabilities
  4. Effects of the Larmor radius and Gyrokinetik
  5. Drift waves
  6. Waves in cold plasmas 


No special knowledge exceeding the admissibility conditions for the master studies required.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VO 2 Introduction to kinetic plasma physics Hallatschek, K. Wed, 14:00–16:00, PH II 127

Learning and Teaching Methods

Lecture, Transparencies, Blackboard presentation, Discussion, Exercises.


no info


  • F.L. Waelbroeck, R.D. Hazeltine: The Framework of Plasma Physics (Frontiers in Physics)
  • Swanson, D. G.: Plasma Kinetic Theory (Crc Press Inc)
  • R.D. Hazeltine, J.D. Meiss: Plasma Confinement (Dover)
  • Landau, Lifshitz. Vol. 10 L.C. Woods: Physics of Plasmas (Wiley)
  • R. J. Goldston, P.H. Rutherford: Introduction to Plasma Physics (Institute of Physics Publications)
  • D. Biskamp: Nonlinear Magnetohydrodynamics (Cambridge University Press)

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

In an oral exam the learning outcome is tested using comprehension questions and sample problems.

In accordance with §12 (8) APSO the exam can be done as a written test. In this case the time duration is 60 minutes.

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.

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