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 computational workshops.

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.

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. Workshops will provide you with opportunities for critical enquiry and exchanges, practical hands-on programming applications. Written feedback will be provided on coursework. Formative feedback will be provided during workshops. 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
• Steven H. Simon. (2017) The Oxford Solid State Physics, Oxford University Press

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 advanced concepts in condensed matter physics from areas at the forefront of the discipline, and to apply such ideas to simple problems at a conceptual and mathematical level.
2. Apply advanced concepts in condensed matter physics to topics studied in class using computational means.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Apply condensed matter theory to discriminate key ideas and critically evaluate the current research landscape in the field

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 two coursework assignments (worth 50% and 50%) each relating to one special topic in condensed matter physics. One coursework will be a problem-based assignment (maximum 2000 words/20 pages) and the second will be a computational assignment (maximum 20 pages).

1. Coursework (50%, problem-based) - MLOs 1,3,4,5
2. Coursework (50%, , computational ) - MLOs 2,3,4,5

1. Workshops - MLOs 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 workshops.





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 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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