Spring 2021 - PHYS 882 G100

Special Topics II (3)

Theory of Phase Transitions

Class Number: 7999

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    Location: TBA



Course description: Introduction to concepts and theory of phase transitions and requisite renormalization group techniques.

Prerequisite: Although there are no formal prerequisites, a solid knowledge of statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics is recommended.

Topics:       1) order parameters and models: Ising, XY, Heisenberg

                  2) universality and scaling

                  3) Ginzburg-Landau-Wilson theory

                  4) expansion around upper critical dimension

                  6) lower critical dimension: Mermin-Wagner theorem, Goldstone modes,

                     non-linear sigma model

                  7) vortices, Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition, topology and duality

                  8) quantum phase transitions, Bose-Hubbard model (time permitting)

Method of delivery: combination of synchronous and asynchronous


  • Homework 50%
  • Presentation 50%



Required Text:
I. Herbut, Modern approach to critical phenomena, Cambridge University Press

Required technology: internet connection, computer with microphone and camera

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).