Condensed State Physics (F3230)

15 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

Topics covered on this module include:

Classification of solids

  1. Types of solids; classification of elements and compounds by physical properties
  2. Types of bonding
  3. Basic band theory of metals, electrical insulators and semiconductors

Crystal structures

  1. Crystals; unit cells and lattice parameters
  2. Bravais lattices; crystallographic basis; crystal axes and planes
  3. Cubic and hexagonal structures
  4. Reciprocal lattice

Diffraction by crystals

  1. Physical processes; Braggs law; atomic and geometrical scattering factors
  2. Diffraction crystallography

Lattice vibrations

  1. Thermal properties of electrical insulators: specific heat and thermal conductivity
  2. Vibrations of monatomic and diatomic 1-D crystals; acoustic and optical modes
  3. Quantisation of lattice vibrations; phonons
  4. Einstein and Debye models for lattice specific heat

The free electron model

  1. Classical free electron gas
  2. Quantised free electron model
  3. Specific heat of the conduction electrons
  4. Electrical and thermal conductivity of metals
  5. AC conductivity and optical properties of metals

Dielectric and optical properties of insulators

  1. Dielectric constant and polarisability
  2. Sources of polarisability; dipolar dispersion.


67%: Lecture
33%: Seminar (Class)


20%: Coursework (Report)
80%: Examination (Computer-based examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 32 hours of contact time and about 118 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2020/21. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: