Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Problem sheets  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written Examination  70%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Written Examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Explain the principles of the zeroth, first, second and third laws of thermodynamics.

2. Apply the laws of thermodynamics and kinetic theory of gases to analyse associated physical problems.

3. Present the principal thermodynamic steps in the operation of heat engines and calculate efficiencies.

4. Analyse thermodynamic processes in terms of the basic concepts of reversibility and entropy.

5. Describe the behaviour of real gases in contrast to ideal gases through the use of appropriate models and phase equilibrium diagrams.

Brief description

Following a brief recap of some of the basic ideas of thermodynamics, including the zeroth and first laws of thermodynamics, this module presents the the second and third laws of thermodynamics, introducing the concept of entropy. The kinetic theory of gases is presented, which provides the link between the macroscopic state variables and the microscopic quantities. Thermodynamic potentials and the Maxwell relations are introduced, with real gases and phase transitions also considered.


The module considers the laws of thermodynamics and associated thermodynamic properties. The module presents the kinetic theory of gases, and introduces the theories for real gases and phase transitions.


Systems, states and processes
Heat & the Zeroth Law
Work & the First Law
The kinetic theory of gases
Heat engines & the Second Law
Entropy & reversibility
Thermodynamic potentials & the Maxwell relations
Phase diagrams & phase equilibria
Real gases

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Creative Problem Solving Problem solving is a key skill in physics and will be tested via the problem questions posed in the assignments and the semester examination.
Professional communication Clear presentation of work by the students in the problem sheets and the semester examination develop written communication skills.
Real world sense The topics covered in this module are related to real world scenarios, which puts the module in context of every day life as well as broader industry applications.
Reflection Students will receive feedback on assignments which provides an opportunity for students to reflect on their progress during the module.
Subject Specific Skills Thermodynamics is a core topic in Physics degree schemes. Students are expected to gain understanding of this topic.


This module is at CQFW Level 5