Thermal and Classical Physics

Subject PHYC20009 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2014:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Lectures, tutorials and practical laboratory classes.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 x one hour lectures per week (total 27 lectures); 1 x one hour tutorial per week (total 9 classes); 1 x three hour laboratory class per week (total 6 classes).
Total Time Commitment:

Estimated total time commitment of 120 hours


One of

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Semester 1

Plus one of

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:

Plus one of

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Semester 1, Semester 2

Plus one of

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Summer Term, Semester 1, Semester 2

MAST10013 UMEP Mathematics for High Achieving Students.

(MAST10007 Linear Algebra or MAST10008 Accelerated Mathematics 1 may be taken concurrently)



Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.
The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Assoc Prof Andrew Melatos



Subject Overview:

This subject extends knowledge of fundamental thermal physics principles and introduces the powerful and elegant Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of classical mechanics. Topics from thermal physics include thermal equilibrium, ideal gas and kinetic theory, equipartition of energy, heat and work, heat capacity, latent heat, enthalpy, thermodynamic processes; thermal systems and statistics, interacting systems, statistics of large systems, entropy, temperature and heat, pressure, chemical potential; heat engines, Carnot cycle, refrigerators, throttling process; Helmholtz and Gibbs Free energies, and phase transformations. In classical physics, topics will include elementary principles (Newton’s laws, momentum and energy conservation, mechanics of systems of particles), Lagrange’s equations (constraints and generalized coordinates, Lagrange’s equations, velocity dependent and dissipative forces, applications, symmetries and conservation laws, stability and oscillations) and Hamilton’s principle (calculus of variation, applications, Hamilton’s principle, Legendre transformations).

Learning Outcomes:

To challenge students to expand their knowledge of fundamental physics principles and develop their capacity to:

  • discuss the principles underlying the zeroth, first and second laws of thermodynamics and calculate and interpret the thermodynamic properties of several simple systems.
  • solve problems in classical mechanics using the elegant Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations and understand that these principles will help them to gain a deeper insight into the relationship between classical and quantum mechanics.
  • acquire and interpret experimental data and perform computer modelling.

Ongoing assessment of practical work during the semester including:

  • log-book record keeping and participation (10%)
  • a written report of up to 2,000 words (10%)

Satisfactory completion of practical work is necessary to pass the subject, including attendance and submission of work for at least 80% of workshop sessions, together with a result for assessed work of at least 50%.

  • One written test with a total duration of up to 30 minutes, held mid semester (5%)
  • Two written assignments requiring a total of up to 8 hours of work outside class time during the semester (10% in total)
  • A 3-hour written examination in the examination period (65%)
Prescribed Texts:

D V Schroeder, An Introduction to Thermal Physics, Addison-Wesley Longman.

Recommended Texts:

A P Arye, Introduction to Classical Physics, Allen & Bacon.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

A student who completes this subject should be able to:

  • explain their understanding of physics principles and applications lucidly, both in writing and orally;
  • acquire and interpret experimental data and design experimental investigations;
  • participate as an effective member of a group in tutorial discussions, laboratory and study groups;
  • think independently and analytically, and direct his or her own learning;
  • manage time effectively in order to be prepared for regular practical and tutorial classes, tests, the examination and to complete assignments.

This subject is available for science credit to students enrolled in the BSc (both pre-2008 and new degrees), BASc or a combined BSc course.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Physics
Science credit subjects* for pre-2008 BSc, BASc and combined degree science courses
Science-credited subjects - new generation B-SCI and B-ENG.
Selective subjects for B-BMED

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