Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics

Module code: NT3011

'Condensed Matter' explores the physics that underpins the behaviour of electrons in crystalline solid materials and is included in the Institute of Physics “core of physics” material.  During this module, you will develop skills and problem-solving abilities that are essential for understanding the physics of the solid state. Alongside lectures, active problem-solving workshops and seminars will supplement your learning.

Tools from statistical physics can be used to explain many fundamental properties of physical systems, from the collective behaviour of atoms in liquids and gasses to magnetism, superconductivity, and turbulence. In this module, we will study probabilistic and statistical methods for dealing with physical problems primarily in thermodynamics and quantum or solid state physics. As part of this module, you will take part in active problem-solving sessions in workshops and seminar classes as well as attending lectures. You will develop mathematical and problem skills, and communicate complex scientific ideas to your peers.

Topics covered

  • Crystal structures and phonons
  • Electrons in crystals
  • Semiconductors and superconductors
  • Kinetic theory of gasses
  • Maxwell relations
  • Maxwell Boltzmann, Bose-Einstein and Fermi Dirac distributions
  • The partition function
  • The free electron gas, densities of states and conductivity
  • Magnetic materials


  • 48 hours of lectures
  • 6 hours of seminars
  • 4 hours of tutorials
  • 16 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 226 hours of guided independent study


  • Exam, 2 hours (30%)
  • Exam, 2 hours (30%)
  • Coursework (40%)