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Fluid phenomena in Soft Matter


Admission Requirements

Diffusie, Statistical Physics 1


This course provides an introduction to Soft Matter Physics through the prism of fluid phenomena. From sand dunes to living cells, Soft Matter Physics rationalizes the complex behaviours of matter from the micro-scale to the macro-scale. With a focus on fundamental fluid phenomena such as viscous flows and capillarity, the course will introduce a variety of Soft Matter systems and the quantitative tools used to describe them. Throughout the course, we will peek at current research which build on these fundamental concepts.
In this course, you will learn to question and explain properties of a variety of common yet complex materials: from simple to complex fluids, from microscopic details to macroscopic behaviours.

Specific topics are:

  • Simple fluids hydrodynamics

  • Viscous flows

  • Thermal fluctuations

  • Capillary phenomena

Along the course, you will also explore recent advances in Soft Matter Physics, notably in the fields of microfluidics and active matter.

Course Objectives

On completing this course, you will know how to:

  • derive the dynamics equations for fluids, describe fluid flows at various scales, quantitatively account for Brownian motion, study bulk and interfacial fluid phenomena

  • perform dimensional analysis to make quantitative predictions, discuss scaling, recognize and analyse instabilities

Transferable Skills

  • You can put chains of arguments into writing

  • You plan your time in such a way that the study load is distributed evenly over the various study activities required for this course: studying the textbook, preparing problem sessions, completing exercises and assignments


See timetable in Brightspace

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of Instruction

See Brightspace
Lectures, tutorials (exercise classes) and homework assignments. The lectures, exercises and exam are in English.

Assessment Method

Written exam (closed book) with open questions. Proper participation in the problem sessions and handing in homework assignments can earn you a bonus of maximally 1 grade point on top of the exam grade.

Reading list

Textbook: Physical Hydrodynamics – Etienne Guyon, Jean-Pierre Hulin, Luc Petit & Catalin D. Mitescu (Oxford University Press, edition 2015), ISBN 978-0-19-870245-0 (pbk.).


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Lecturer: Dr. Alexandre Morin