Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

PHSI231 Quantum and Thermal Physics

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website

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) $1,080.30
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,858.95

^ Top of page

One of PHSI 110 , PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
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. Students without the Mathematics background recommended for PHSI231 may still be admitted to the paper. To do this, apply for Special Permission at the Review and Submit stage of your application.
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, Third edition, by David J. Griffiths and Darrell F. Schroeter

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

^ Top of page


First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 10:00-10:50 9-12, 18-22
Thursday 10:00-10:50 9-12, 18-22
Friday 10:00-10:50 9-12, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
T1 Tuesday 13:00-13:50 10-12, 19-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Tuesday 14:00-15:50 9-12, 18-22
A2 Thursday 14:00-15:50 9-12, 18-22