Properties of Matter (F3216)

15 credits, Level 3 (sub-degree)

Autumn teaching

This module covers:

  1. Simple Harmonic Motion: SHM of an ideal horizontal mass/spring system; rotating vector representation of SHM; kinetic and potential energy of a harmonic oscillator; examples of SHM; damped harmonic motion.
  2. Elasticity: Hooke's law; elastic modulii; Poisson's ratio; non-elastic behaviour.
  3. Fluids: fluids at rest; pressure; density; Archimedes' principle and flotation; Stokes's law and terminal velocity; hydraulic machines; fluids in motion: streamline flow; the equation of continuity and Bernoulli's equation and their applications.
  4. Temperature: temperature scales; thermometers; thermodynamic temperature and absolute zero; ranges of temperatures; zeroth law of thermodynamics.
  5. Thermal Expansion: linear and volumetric expansion; solids and liquids; water.
  6. Gas Laws: Boyle's Law, Charles's Law and Gay-Lussac's Law; equation of state and the ideal gas law.
  7. Kinetic Theory of Gases: basic postulates; microscopic definition of temperature.
  8. Thermal Energy: heat and temperature; quantity of heat; mechanical equivalent of heat; specific heat capacity.
  9. Changes of State: melting and freezing; vaporisation and boiling; latent heat.
  10. Transfer of Thermal Energy: radiation; convection; conduction.
  11. Thermodynamics: basic concepts; first law of thermodynamics; conservation of energy; isothermal, isobaric, isometric and adiabatic processes; Second Law of Thermodynamics and the concept of entropy; heat engines and heat pumps; cyclic processes; analysis of thermal efficiency; the Carnot cycle and the concept of an ideal engine.


51%: Lecture
24%: Practical (Workshop)
24%: Seminar (Class)


20%: Coursework (Problem Set)
80%: Examination (Unseen examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 150 hours of work. This breaks down into 45 hours of contact time and 105 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: