Faculty of Science

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2015 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Science
Organisational UnitSchool of Physics and Astronomy
OfferedClayton First semester 2015 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Alexis Bishop


This unit provides the foundation for a theoretical and/or experimental major in physics. It consists of two 12-lecture sub-units, Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Physics and laboratory work. The key areas for each sub-unit are:

  1. Quantum Mechanics: QM states and the Dirac notation. Operators, measurement and observables. Schrodinger and Heisenberg representations, matrix mechanics. The Hydrogen atom and the quantum harmonic oscillator. Raising and lowering operators. Angular momentum and intrinsic spin. Bosons, fermions and exchange.
  2. Statistical Physics: Heat, temperature and entropy. Classical and quantum statistics. Counting states and probability. The Maxwell-Boltzmann, Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein probability distributions. Applications to real systems.
  3. Laboratory work: experimental laboratory work on relevant topics.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Recall fundamental concepts from the sub-unit of foundation Quantum Mechanics which will include the Photoelectric and Compton effects, atomic spectra, interpretation of the wave function, Superposition principle, Correspondence principle, bound and unbound states, Schrodinger correspondence rules, the time-dependent and independent Schrodinger equations, boundary conditions for the wave function, probability current density, operators and expectation values, Ehrenfest's theorem, Schrodinger's equation applied to one dimensional systems, Gaussian wavepacket scattering, Eigenfunction expansions, probability amplitudes, unitary transformations, matrix mechanics and operators, orbital angular momentum and spherical harmonics, vector model for angular momentum, raising and lowering operators for angular momentum, matrix mechanics and angular momentum, spin angular momentum, and the hydrogen atom.

  1. Recall fundamental concepts from the sub-unit of Statistical Mechanics which will include microstates and macrostates, counting and entropy, equilibrium and non-equilibrium, paramagnetism, the 2-state system, temperature and its measurement, magnetic cooling, gases and their distributions, the Maxwell-Boltzmann gas, kinetic theory and thermodynamics, the Fermi gas, metals and semiconductors, neutron stars, quantum effects at finite temperatures, massless photons and phonons, blackbody radiation, historical foundations of quantum mechanics, massive bosons, Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) and quantum effects on a macroscopic scale, phase transitions; Ferromagnetism, and entropy and fluctuations;

  1. Solve new problems in physics related to the core concepts of the unit by drawing on the theoretical underpinnings that illustrate the physics;

  1. Perform measurements and analysis on experiments that demonstrate the theoretical physics described in this and other physics units;

  1. Produce experimental reports that present results, analyse and discuss the implications and outcomes of experimental work.


Examination (three hours): 46%
Laboratory work: 34%
Assignments: 20%
Students must achieve a pass mark in the practical component to achieve an overall pass grade.

Workload requirements

  • Two 1-hour lectures and two 1-hour tutorials per week
  • An average of two hours in the laboratory per week
  • Six hours of independent study per week

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study