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SI1162 Statistical Physics 7.5 credits

"Statistical physics" covers thermodynamics, statistical physics and quantum statistics, which in different ways describe systems with a large number of particles. The systems can be e.g. atoms and molecules in gases, liquids and solids or electrons in metals and semiconductors. The subject is basic to all branches of physics and has applications in most branches of technology.

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Headings with content from the Course syllabus SI1162 (Spring 2019–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

Thermodynamics is a phenomenological macroscopic theory of energy conversions. Heat, which is an energy form with special properties, is particularly considered. The fundamental laws of thermodynamics, relating to energy and entropy, describe the conditions for various processes. The applicability of thermodynamics is due to the general character of its concepts. This part of the course constitutes a more deeply penetrating continuation of the course on thermodynamics for CTFYS1.

Statistical physics provides the microscopic molecular background of thermodynamics. By a statistical description based on the microscopic states of a system, averages of microscopic entities can be determined and constitute thermodynamic macroscopic entities. Modern statistical physics is formulated in terms of so called ensemble theory. Ideal gases and non-interacting spin-systems are among systems treated.

Quantum statistics demonstrates how the symmetry properties of quantum-mechanical wavefunctions influence the thermodynamic and statistical properties of a system. One distinguishes Bose- Einstein statistics for systems described by symmetric wavefunctions and Fermi-Dirac statistics for systems described by antisymmetric wavefunctions. Quantum statistics is applicable to electrons in metals and semiconductors, electromagnetic radiation, lattice vibrations, a.o.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course you will

  • know the definition of, and be able to use, the most important concepts in thermodynamics and classical, as well as quantum mechanical, statistical physics.
  • know, be able to analyze and apply theories and models of thermodynamic processes and statistical distributions, with particular emphasis on the validity of approximations used.
  • be familiar with the relation between the phenomenological thermodynamics and the microscopic description in statistical physics.
  • be able to independently treat problems in thermodynamics and statistical physics.
  • know, and be able to develop, applications in physics and other natural sciences based on thermodynamic and statistical physical principles.
  • have a certain knowledge of technical applications of thermodynamics and statistical physics.

Course disposition

No information inserted

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Recommended prerequisites: Differential and integral calculus (in particular partial derivatives and functions of several variables), Mathematical statistics, Quantum mechanics and Thermodynamics (for CTFYS1).

Recommended prerequisites

Differential and integral calculus (in particular partial derivatives and functions of several variables), Mathematical statistics, Quantum mechanics and Thermodynamics (for CTFYS1).


No information inserted


S.J. Blundell and K.M. Blundell: Concepts in thermal physics (Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2010). Chapter 1-8,11-30 and 35-37 included in the course.

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • TEN1 - Examination, 7.5 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Other requirements for final grade

Written exam, grade A-E, (TEN1; 6 university credits: problemsolving similar to that trained in the course).

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination



Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web SI1162

Offered by

Main field of study

Physics, Technology

Education cycle

First cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted


Jack Lidmar