KL7001 - Advanced Condensed Matter

What will I learn on this module?

This module provides an overview of the physics of condensed matter systems which includes the macroscopic and microscopic properties of matter. A feature of this module is that it considers both hard and soft condensed matter and during the module, you will encounter many interesting phenomena involving quantum mechanics and statistical physics with numerous real-world examples throughout.

Outline Syllabus

1. Introduction

Condensed matter: solids, liquids and gases. Differences between phases: gases as disordered phases, emergence of spatial correlations in liquids, the broken symmetry and rigidity of crystals. Qualitative description of microscopic interactions: energy scales, van der Waals attraction and hard-sphere repulsion, the Lennard-Jones potential, molecular bonding, the hydrogen molecule, molecular orbitals, energy-band theory.

2. Structure of condensed matter

Probing condensed matter: Bragg’s scattering, scattering of photons, neutrons and electrons. Correlation functions: application to gases, liquids, and crystals. The symmetry and structure of crystals: lattices and space groups. Beyond gases, liquids and crystalline solids: liquid crystals, quasi-crystals and ordered magnets.

3. Thermodynamics and statistical physics

The laws of Thermodynamics, Thermodynamic variables and potentials. Equations of state. Phase coexistence and stability. Phase space and thermodynamic ensembles. Connection between statistical physics and thermodynamics.

4. Statistical description of condensed matter systems

Spatial correlations. Ordered systems. Symmetry and order parameters. Mean field theories: Bragg-Williams theory; Landau theory and the Ginzburg-Landau potential; The Ising model. Application: solution of the Ising model using the Montecarlo method. The liquid-gas phase transition: the critical point and the coexistence curve. Multivariate systems: bicritical, tricritical and tetracritical points. The solid-liquid phase transition. Qualitative description of critical phenomena: critical exponents, universality and scaling

How will I learn on this module?

The module is delivered using a substantial amount of directed independent learning supported by lectures and seminars.

It provides a collegial environment for active scientific discussion and engagement, thus strengthening your employability through knowledge and critical thinking about topics in condensed matter and the state-of-the-art via engagement with the research landscape. This is augmented through technology-enhanced learning opportunities for example through the use of Monte Carlo simulation methods in software.

Independent study is supported by further technology-enhanced resources provided via the e-learning portal, including lecture materials and open-access journal papers. You will be provided with a reading list and a list of aspects of the topic to be further developed as an assignment. Coursework is developed through various routes. An indicative, non-prescriptive, list of activities incudes consultation of textbooks and research papers, mathematical modelling work and computational work.

The assessment consists of:

1. Coursework (50%): An advanced problem set in condensed matter physics; and

2. Computational Assignment (50%): Montecarlo simulation of the Ising model.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Lectures will be the main point of academic contact, offering you with a formal teaching environment for core learning. Seminars will provide you with opportunities for critical enquiry and exchanges. Written feedback will be provided on coursework. Formative feedback will be provided during seminars. Feedback will be provided individually and also generically to indicate where the cohort has a strong or a weaker answer to specific questions.

Outside formal scheduled teaching, you will be able to contact the module team (module tutor, year tutor, programme leader) either via email or the open door policy operated throughout the programme.

Further academic support will be provided through technology-enhanced resources via the e-learning portal. You will have the opportunity to give their feedback formally through periodic Programme Review Meetings and directly to the module tutor at the end of the semester.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

1. No recommendations for purchase by students

2. Books

A reading list will be assigned by each tutor.

• Chaikin P. M. and Lubensky T. C. (2000) Principles of condensed matter physics, Cambridge University Press
• Ashcroft N. W. and Mermin N. D. (1976) Solid state physics, Saunders College

3. Journal articles

4. Journal and Newspaper titles
Nature Communications, ACS Nano, ACS Surfaces and Interfaces, Physical Review Letters, Applied Physics Letters

5. Databases and Websites
Web of Science

6. Any other resources
IT resources for practical work, literature reviews and report writing.

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Analyse and solve classic problems in condensed matter physics

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
2. Apply condensed matter theory to discriminate key ideas in the current research landscape in the field
3. Critically evaluate problems in condensed matter using computational and mathematical techniques

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. Manage your own learning, through knowledge of available reading sources, including advanced texts and research papers and scientific databases.
5. Effectively and concisely communicate complex physics-based ideas in written form and supported by appropriate mathematics

How will I be assessed?

The assessment consists of a two coursework (50%/50%). Thus, there coursework will be divided into two summative assessments (worth 50% and 50%)

SUMMATIVE MLOs 1,2,3,4,5
1. Coursework (50%), (3000 word/20 page limit), theory and data analysis
2. Coursework (50%), (3000 word/20 page limit), computational method

1. Seminars 1,2,3,4,5

Feedback will be provided individually and also generically to indicate where the cohort has a strong or a weaker answer to questions.

Written feedback will be provided on coursework.

Formative feedback will be provided during seminars.





Module abstract


Course info

UCAS Code F301

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 4 years full-time or 5 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023 or September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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