Module code: PHY1039

Module provider


Module Leader

KEDDIE JL Prof (Physics)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 4

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 84

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 11

Laboratory Hours: 88

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Practical based assessment LABORATORY DIARIES & REPORT/POSTER 30%

Alternative Assessment

Assessed Laboratory Diary Mark and Report/Poster UoA may be assessed by two laboratory experiments, two diaries and two written reports.

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

This module will introduce the classical physics that is relevant to gases and condensed matter, making use of the thermodynamic equations of state. The emphasis will be on the structure of matter and its relationship to mechanical and thermal properties, such as elasticity and thermal expansivity. Laws of classical thermodynamics will be introduced. The module will prepare the student for the study of solid state physics and advanced thermodynamics at Level FHEQ 5.

Module aims

introduce the basic principles of classical equilibrium thermodynamics.

explain and apply the Laws of Thermodynamics in problem solving.

introduce the concepts of internal energy and heat and to understand their relevance in the world.

develop skills in using mathematics to describe thermodynamic processes.

relate the atomic and molecular structure of matter to properties of matter, including expansivity and elasticity.

use the laboratory to reinforce concepts from lectures.  The aims of the laboratory are to build on the foundation of previous practical classes when conducting experiments to verify theory and to improve understanding.  Another aim is to develop skills in analysing data.  The importance of keeping a laboratory notebook (diary) and the clear presentation of results will be stressed.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Demonstrate understanding how intermolecular forces relate to the states of matter and determine the structure of matter.  KC
Show an appreciation of how molecular interactions influence bulk properties, including thermal expansivity and elasticity.  K
Display competence in classical thermodynamics and appreciate its fundamental importance in the physical world. K
Show an understanding of the Laws of Thermodynamics and will gain an ability to apply them in the analysis of simple thermodynamic systems. KC
Know the definitions of thermodynamic terms and will be able to solve algebraic and numerical problems in thermodynamics. KC
Via successful completion of the laboratory classes, perform an experiment of intermediate difficulty, developing practical, analytical and computational skills, by following written instructions.  P
Obtain data with good accuracy, to evaluate the precision of the results, and to draw conclusions from the data through numerical analysis CPT
Keep a comprehensive diary of activity, recording results in a form useful to others, and to complete a report, based on the diary, in the style of a scientific paper. The specific practical skills gained will vary according to the assignment of experiments P

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

States of matter; Open and closed thermodynamic systems; equilibrium states; state variables; types of walls; Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics; definition of temperature;
Reversible processes; equations of state; ideal and van der Waals gases; phase transitions (solid, liquid and gas); inter-atomic and intermolecular potentials; relation between intermolecular interactions and phase transitions
Bulk properties:  thermal expansivity, elasticity (bulk modulus, surface tension, and elastic modulus).
Types of work; calculations of work; adiabatic free expansions.
Definition of heat; First Law of Thermodynamics; molecular viewpoint of heat and work; enthalpy; thermodynamic method in problem solving
Degrees of freedom in monoatomic, diatomic and triatomic molecules; Heat capacity (Cp and Cv) for gases; introduction to crystal structure; heat capacity of solids (Dulong-Petit and Debye limits);
Adiabatic expansions of gas; Cp – Cv and Cp/Cv; heat engines; Carnot cycle; efficiency of an engine; Kelvin and Clausius’ statements of the Second Law of Thermodynamics; Carnot’s theorem
Topics of experiments will include: latent heat of liquid nitrogen; thermal expansion of metals; X-ray diffraction of crystals; and adiabatic work on ideal gases.


Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

equip students with subject knowledge
develop skills in applying subject knowledge to physical situations
enable students to tackle unseen problems in thermodynamics
develop students' practical skills
develop students' report-writing skills

The learning and teaching methods include:

22h of lecures as 2h/week for 11 weeks
11h of tutorials as 1h/week over 11 weeks
20h of practical laboratory work
Total student workload is 150hrs, with the remaining hours consisting of independent study


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

their practical laboratory skills, their abilities to analyse data and draw conclusions from it, their skills in communicating scientific information, their problem-solving abilities, and their understanding of fundamental concepts and theory relating to all forms of matter


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         2h examination at end of semester with a section containing short questions, of which all 5 should be attempted and a section of longer questions from which 2/3 should be attempted

·         Laboratory diaries (every 2 weeks)

·         Poster presentation (week 7)

·         Laboratory report (week 11)


Formative assessment and feedback

During the laboratory sessions, students will be given verbal feedback on their performance and diary-keeping through face-to-face meetings with laboratory instructors.  At the poster session, students will be given verbal feedback on their poster by their peers and laboratory instructors.  At weekly tutorial classes, students will complete problem sets and then be given verbal feedback along with model solutions on Surrey Learn.


Reading list

Reading list for PROPERTIES OF MATTER :

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.