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PHSI231 Quantum and Thermal Physics

Introduction to the fundamental microscopic and macroscopic theories of matter. Quantum physics: wave-particle duality, the uncertainty principle, the measurement problem. Thermodynamics; principles of statistical mechanics. Classical mechanics.

This paper covers three major topics in physics. The Classical Mechanics section presents a mathematically rigorous account of Newton's laws, mechanics and harmonic oscillators. The Quantum Mechanics section introduces the wave function, Schrödinger's equations and applications. The Thermal Physics section introduces the laws of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics for isolated systems and systems connected to a thermal reservoir.

Paper title Quantum and Thermal Physics
Paper code PHSI231
Subject Physics
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,059.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,627.65

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One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110 and (MATH 160 or MATH 170). Students without the Mathematics background recommended for PHSI 231 may still be admitted to the paper. To do this, apply for Special Permission at the Review and Submit stage of your application.
PHSI 251
Schedule C
It is strongly recommended that students taking PHSI231 or PHSI232 have passed MATH170 or are enrolled in MATH170 and have a B grade or better in MATH160.
Teaching staff
Course Co-ordinator: Dr Mikkel Andersen
Professor Blair Blakie
Dr Philip Brydon
Classical Mechanics, John R. Taylor, University Science Books

Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, (2nd Edition), David J. Griffiths

An introduction to thermal physics, Daniel V. Schroeder, Addison Wesley Longman
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
After completing this paper students will be able to:
  1. State the basic principles of three key topics in physics: Newtonian classical mechanics, introductory wave-function-based quantum mechanics and thermal physics (thermodynamics, microcanonical and canonical statistical mechanics)
  2. Apply these principles, in conjunction with mathematical and statistical techniques, to solve problems in these three topic areas
  3. Present a solution to a physics problem in a clear and logical written form and be able to assess whether a solution is physically reasonable
  4. Locate and use additional sources of information, such as text books and discussion with peers, to facilitate problem solving

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First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 10:00-10:50 9-16, 18-22
Thursday 10:00-10:50 9-16, 18-22
Friday 10:00-10:50 9-15, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
T1 Monday 13:00-13:50 10-16, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Tuesday 14:00-15:50 9-16, 18-22
A2 Thursday 14:00-15:50 9-16, 18-22