Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Introduction to the Physics of Matter
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
Not available to students on 3 year BSc (Hons) or 4 year MPhys schemes
GCSE Mathematics and Science or equivalent
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   written examination  70%
Semester Assessment Example sheets  30%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   written examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Describe the structure of the atom and electron energy levels.
2. Compare types of bonds between atoms and molecules, and their relative strengths.
3. Interpret the structures and properties of solids and calculate the effects of stresses on solids.
4. Recognise and apply the thermal properties of solids, liquids and gases.
5. Recall the concept of an ideal gas, apply the gas laws and equation of state.
6. Recognise the effects of heat and work on matter and perform calculations using the First Law of Thermodynamics.

Brief description

Matter consists of atoms and molecules in solid, liquid or gas phase. The structure and size of atoms - protons, neutrons and electrons are first discussed. Quantisation of energy and ionisation potential. Molecular structure is discussed with emphasis on the types of bonding between atoms and molecules. The influences of temperature on the properties of matter is then considered. The behaviour of solids undergoing stress and strain. A simple model of an ideal gas as a collection of hard spheres is shown to lead to an understanding of transport properties of gases and deviations from ideal behaviour. Properties of gases are examined from the point of view of the First Law of Thermodynamics.


Atomic structure - Protons, neutrons, electrons, isotopes and radioactive decay.
Avogadro's constant and the mole.
Emission spectra and electron energy levels within atoms.
Ionic, covalent, metallic bonding.
Interatomic and intermolecular forces.
Structure of solids and associated physical properties.
Specific heat capacity and latent heat, thermal conductivity.
Solids - stress and strain, elasticity, Young'r modulus.
Ideal gases - gas laws, equation of state.
Isochoric, isothermal, isobaric processes.
Thermal properties of matter - heat, work, internal energy.
First law of thermodynamics.


This module is at CQFW Level 3