Course Title and Number:   Thermal Physics, PHY308, CRN 3860, Section 201

Semester and Year: Spring 2009

Location and Time: S281, MWF 10:00-10:50 A.M.

Required Text: Thermal Physics, Daniel V. Schroeder (Addison Wesley Longman). ISBN 0-201-38027-7.

Computer Requirements: Marshall University Net (MUNet) student account providing access to personal computers in designated (see below) MU computer laboratories with Javascript-enabled browsers. Students must be able to access the PHY308- Thermal Physics electronic course delivery system available through MU-Online. This will be used primarily for posting grades and announcements and is linked from: You should attempt to login as soon as possible, and e-mail me as soon as possible if difficulties are encountered.

Instructor:      Name: Thomas E. Wilson, Ph.D.

                        Office: Science 153

                        Office Hours: M/W/F 3:30-4:30 P.M.

                        Phone/Email: 696-2752 /

Course Description; Credits; Prerequisites: A study of thermodynamics (TD), kinetic theory of gases, and an introduction to statistical mechanics. 3 lectures; 3 hours credit; (PR: PHY 203 or PHY213).

Desired Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Our goal is to cover classical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics in some detail at a level suitable for the student who has successfully completed courses in general physics and calculus. We will study approximately one chapter every two weeks that should include the following (indexing implies only a subset of the total chapter is included):

Chapter 1.1-1.7 Energy in Thermal Physics

Chapter 2.1-2.6 The Second Law

Chapter 3 Interactions and Implications

Chapter 4 Engines and Refrigerators

Chapter 5.1-5.3 Free Energy

Chapter 6 Boltzmann Statistics

Chapter 7 Quantum Statistics

We strive for a compromise between rigor and simplicity.

Evaluation/Measurement/Assessment of Learner Outcomes: Student understanding will be assessed through the weekly assigned problem sets and examinations. There will be two examinations and one final examination. .

Grading Policy: The final grade will be based upon the student scores from the following components. The contribution to the overall grade from each component is shown as a percentage in the rightmost column.



Exam I                       


Exam II                      


Problem Sets  


Comprehensive Final Exam  


Class Participation




Letter grades will be determined according to the students percentage total as follows:













Policy Statement: Deadlines for the homework most likely will not be extended and in general, makeup examinations will not be given, although, at the discretion of the instructor, emergency situations will warrant special consideration. The tentative dates for the examinations are as follows:

            Exam I -          Monday February 9
            Exam II -         Monday April 6

            Final Exam -    Monday May 4 (10:15 A.M. - 12:15 P.M.)

Also, a portion of one’s grade will be determined by the degree to which one participates in the classroom discussion. The student should demonstrate a willingness and enthusiasm to participate and should be able to demonstrate an appropriate knowledge level. This may include a substantial amount of ‘taking boards’ and working a problem for the general class on the blackboard.

Academic Integrity

Collaboration and discussion on the problem sets is encouraged and makes the learning experience more engaging and enjoyable. However under no circumstances will identical homework solutions be acceptable.  If identical homework solutions are discovered, each party involved will receive zero credit. If it is discovered on more than one homework set, more serious sanctions may be imposed.

Students are expected to abide by the following statement on academic honesty:

Learning and teaching take place best in an atmosphere of intellectual fair-minded openness. All members of the academic community are responsible for supporting freedom and openness through rigorous personal standards of honesty and fairness. Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty undermine the very purpose of the university and the value of an education.

Complete information on the academic dishonesty policy can be obtained from the Office of the Dean of Students. Although it will be extremely unlikely, for documentation purpose herein, any student caught cheating on the examinations or finals, a report of Academic Dishonesty will be filed with the Office of Academic Affairs. Sanctions will include receiving an F for the course.



Attendance Policy:    Please arrive promptly.

Course Philosophy: My course philosophy is rather simple; I want you all to enjoy the process of assimilating the great ideas of thermal physics, while simultaneously developing analytical problem-solving skills. Problem-solving in physics requires a good deal of effort in order to incorporate the mathematical skills to which you have already been exposed.

Problem sets must be written neatly and legibly; otherwise grading becomes tedious and difficult. Typically, you will use many pages before you figure out the solution. After you are satisfied with this solution, recopy for grading.

Course Outline: Therefore, it is imperative that the student read the assigned chapter material prior to coming to class. The first week of class will cover chapter 1.  For an up-to-date list of scheduled reading assignments, exams and other events, the student should visit on a regular basis the Mu-Online course PHY308. It is the student’s responsibility to stay informed in this manner. Also, please bear in mind that some important university dates, in addition to the examination dates listed above, may be found at

Policy for Students with Disabilities: Marshall University is committed to equal opportunity in education for all students, including those with physical, learning and psychological disabilities.  University policy states that it is the responsibility of students with disabilities to contact the Office of Disabled Student Services (DSS) in Prichard Hall 117, phone 304 696-2271 to provide documentation of their disability.  Following this, the DSS Coordinator will send a letter to each of the student’s instructors outlining the academic accommodation he/she will need to ensure equality in classroom experiences, outside assignment, testing and grading.  The instructor and student will meet to discuss how the accommodation(s) requested will be provided.  For more information, please visit or contact Disabled Student Services Office at Prichard Hall 11, phone 304-696-2271.