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Basics of thermodynamics

Novosibirsk State University via Coursera


Our course on the basics of thermodynamics targeting a wide audience includes only what is absolutely necessary, focusing on the most basic issues, excluding less important specialized topics. However, you will learn about unusual phenomena such as stretched liquid and see interesting experiments. A future competent specialist, whose work should be at least somehow connected with physical phenomena, will find this course in thermodynamics useful and necessary. We tried to explain the basic concepts as clearly and consistently as possible and at the same time remain at a serious physical level. As a result, in a relatively short time, you will receive a core of knowledge that will allow you to easily supplement it with appropriate special tasks in the future. In addition, such an ultra-short extract of the essentials often allows you to look at the course differently: to cover it as a whole, to see the interconnection of the parts. So, it may be of interest even to those who have already studied thermodynamics.


  • Temperature and thermal equilibrium
    • In this module you will become familiar with the basic concepts of thermodynamic equilibrium and temperature, as well as other thermodynamic parameters. You will learn the basic laws, that describe the ideal gas. This module will serve as a starting point for further study of the course.
  • The First law of thermodynamics
    • This module focuses on the first law of thermodynamics. You will learn quasistatic processes. You have to study the relationship between internal energy, the amount of heat and the work of a gas, get acquainted with the concept of heat capacity.
  • The second law of thermodynamics
    • This module focuses on the second law of thermodynamics. You will become familiar with the Carnot and Otto cycles, the operation of internal combustion engines, refrigerators and heat pumps.
  • Real gases and phase transitions
    • This module is devoted to real gases and the Van der Waals equation describing them. With its help, you will study such processes as cooling and liquefaction of gases, get acquainted with the unusual states of matter. Interesting physics experiments are waiting for you in this module.
  • Heat transfer
    • In this module you will explore the phenomenon of thermal conductivity. You will get acquainted with the blackbody model, as well as the application of the thermodynamic approach to the description of thermal radiation.

Taught by

Rasul Abdullaev, Leonid Braginsky and Arthur Pogosov

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