PHYSICS 742 : Advanced Statistical Mechanics and Condensed Matter


2021 Semester One (1213) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Advanced concepts in statistical mechanics and condensed matter. Topics to be covered include the theory of magnetism, mean field theory, the Ising model, superconductivity, phase transitions, complex systems, and networks.

Course Overview

Statistical Mechanics aims to study and understand the macroscopic properties of systems with a large number of degrees of freedom by applying statistical arguments to the microscopic laws that govern the behaviour of individual components within the system. Beyond being an exciting area of current physics research with strong links to condensed matter, statistical mechanics has applications to subjects as diverse as economics, ecology, evolutionary biology, social behaviour, and complex networks.

Condensed Matter Physics is concerned with the behaviour of large aggregates of atoms or molecules, from hard to soft matter, from solids over liquids to other condensed states of matter like e.g. Bose Einstein condensates. Its beauty lies in the combination of the development of fundamentally new concepts and hands-on applications. The area is closely related to materials science as well as mechanical, chemical, and electric engineering that focus on the design of novel materials and devices of large importance to the solution of many of our modern-world problems.

Course Requirements

Restriction: PHYSICS 708

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Master of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand and apply the concepts of statistical physics (thermodynamic variables, entropy, partition functions, ensemble theory ) (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Be familiar with concepts relating to complex networks and understand the relationship between such networks and statistical mechanics (Capability 1, 2 and 6)
  3. Demonstrate understanding of magnetism, phase transitions, surface effects and defects and Monte Carlo techniques (Capability 1 and 2)
  4. Present (orally) on a modern research topic related to statistical or condensed matter physics concepts discussed in this course. (Capability 1, 4 and 5)
  5. Be able to solve and present statistical physics/condensed matter problems related to the content of this course. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  6. Program and execute the two-dimensional square Ising model to identify and discuss a phase transition (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments (2) 25% Individual Coursework
Presentation 12.5% Individual Coursework
Project 12.5% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Assignments (2)
Final Exam

Special Requirements

Must sit the final exam.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 2 hours of lectures, a 1 hour tutorial, 2 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 5 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including tutorials and presentation to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including tutorials will not be available as recordings (work sheets; notebooks and solutions will be provided).
The course will not include live online events.
Attendance on campus is not required for the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Information on recommended textbooks and class material provided via Canvas.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Level 1: Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode.
Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person. All teaching, tutorials and assessment will have a remote option. 
Level 3/4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 28/06/2021 05:22 p.m.