Physics  354         Thermodynamics          Spring Semester 2010   Syllabus


Instructor:  Dr. Brian M. Davies

Instructor's office:  Currens 532 (top floor, NW corner)

Phone:  309-298-1307

Office Hours:  MWF 11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. and MW 2:002:50 p.m. or by arrangement

Instructor's e-mail address:  BM-Davies at

Instructor’s web site:

Required textbook:  "Introduction to Thermal Physics", by Dan Schroeder. 

Class Schedule:  Lecture:  M W F 12:00 – 12:50 p.m., Room:  Currens 336

Course Objective:  To introduce the student to basic principles in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics.  Topics mentioned in the catalog description include:  “the concept of temperature, the first, second, and third laws of thermodynamics, applications to gases, change of state, kinetic theory, and applications to simple models of familiar situations.”  To clarify the fundamental concepts of classical thermodynamics, we will also consider concepts from statistical mechanics.  This mixed approach makes it easier to understand the entropy function and the second law of thermodynamics. 

ADA policy:  “In accordance with University policy and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), academic accommodations may be made for any student who notifies the instructor of the need for an accommodation.  It is imperative that you take the initiative to bring such needs to the instructor’s attention, as he/she is not legally permitted to inquire about such particular needs of students.  Students who may require special assistance in emergency evacuations (i.e. fire, tornado, etc.) should contact the instructor as to the most appropriate procedures to follow in such an emergency.  Contact Disability Support Services at 298-2512 for additional services.” 


Homework                   35 %
2 hourly Exams             40 %                Feb. 26 (over Ch. 1-2) and Apr. 9 (over Ch. 3)
Final Exam                   25 %                Mon. May 10, at 1 p.m. (over Ch. 4-5)

Homework policy:  

In the text by Schroeder, exercised are embedded in the text, at the end of each section of reading.  There will be three types of homework in the course.  Prior to each class, the student should read the assigned reading and write out short solutions to the assigned exercises (one or two short exercises).  This short assignment will be turned in at the beginning of class and will serve a purpose similar to reading quizzes, i.e., to motivate the student to read material before class.  Then there will be several problems assigned for discussion.  The student should look at these and be prepared to discuss these in class.  The classroom discussion will thus involve less lecturing and more discussion than is typical for a physics class.  Finally, there will be regular homework problems, which involve somewhat more work, which will be turned in and graded in the usual way.  Late homework will lose 20% of its potential points per day that it is late.