• Offered by Research School of Physics and Engineering
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Physics
  • Areas of interest Physics
  • Academic career Undergraduate
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2016
    See Future Offerings

This course consists of an initial compulsory component, followed by a choice of units in the second half of the semester. This initial unit reviews basic topics in equilibrium statistical mechanics. This includes thermodynamical quantities (entropy, energy, temperature, pressure, volume), ensembles (microcanonical, canonical, grand canonical), partition functions, classical ideal gases, equations of state, kinetic theory, van der Waals gases, quantum ideal gases (bosonic and fermionic), blackbody radiation, phonons, Bose-Einstein condensates, and degenerate Fermi gases (white dwarves). One of the principal aims is to introduce the idea of a phase transition using the example of a low-temperature Bose-Einstein condensate.

Topics available in the second half of the course include:
Entropy, Order Parameters and Complexity - This topic will cover basic and advanced topics of statistical mechanics with a strong focus on cross-disciplinary application of the theory. It will include topics such as continous phase transitions, percolation theory and the different interpretations of Entropy.
Electronics - This topic will tie together much of the physics learnt as an undergraduate in a practical setting. It will introduce the students to electronics practice in a physics research laboratory environment. The course concentrates on the processing of analog signals. Linear circuits are reviewed before moving on to active circuits. The active circuits are primarily investigated using operational amplifiers, though simple transistor circuits are also used. Concepts such as negative feedback, dynamic range, signal to noise ratios, filtering and analog to digital conversion are explored.

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this subject, students should have the skills and knowledge to:

1. Use the formalism of statistical mechanics and probability theory to derive relations between thermodynamical quantities.
2. Develop useful approximations that describe the statistical behaviour of classical and quantum many-body systems.
3. Discuss the microscopic meaning of phase transitions in statistical many-body systems.
4. Understand, evaluate and describe the theories, concepts and principles of the current knowledge for the chosen topic.
5. Master appropriate analytical, theoretical and/or practical techniques to further their understanding and skills in the chosen topic.

Indicative Assessment

Assignments/Labwork (40%) (LO1-5)
Exam (60%) (LO1-5)

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The course will consist of lectures and tutorials. Total workload (including homework and study) will be kept to 8 hours per week, with typically 3 contact hours per week.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You will need to contact the Research School of Physics and Engineering to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Assumed Knowledge

Students will be expected to have completed an undergraduate degree, with a major in Physics.



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Band 2
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $3276
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $4368
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings and Dates

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery
4600 15 Feb 2016 26 Feb 2016 31 Mar 2016 27 May 2016 In Person

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