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This document contains rules for the course "Philosophy Of Physics: Time Symmetry In Quantum Mechanics And Thermodynamics", a special topics course delivered by the Mathematical Sciences Institute at the Australian National University in summer semester 2017-2018.

Course code: MATH3349
Convenor: Jason Grossman (0478 297 911,

Course website

Mode of delivery

weekly seminars


20 hours of lectures (online seminar format), plus readings and assessment

Learning outcomes

  • A good understanding of general issues of time symmetry in the foundations of physics, especially as applied to thermodynamics and quantum mechanics.

  • Some understanding of the history of thermodynamics and quantum mechanics.

  • Some understanding of methodologies of philosophy of science.

  • A habit of educated questioning of scientific orthodoxy.

Assessment details

  1. Attendance at all 20 classes is expected except in emergencies. Attendance at at least 16 classes (for the full time of each class) is a hurdle requirement - i.e., failure to do this means failing the course, except in cases of well documented emergencies.

  2. One research report of up to 4,000 words (or equivalent, if the project report is not all text), on a topic to be agreed with the course convenor by 4 February 2018. The report is due on 16 February 2018.

Prescribed texts

  1. "Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point" by Huw Price

  2. Short readings to be distributed by the course convenor during the semester. (Students are welcome to suggest readings.)

Proscribed texts


Generic skills

This course aims to develop the generic skills of critical thinking, verbal discussion, and iconoclasm.

Important ANU information

The ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. You can find the university’s education policies and an explanatory glossary at: Students are expected to have read the Student Academic Integrity Policy before the commencement of their course.

The University offers a number of support services for students. Information on these is available online from

In particular, for assistance with assignment writing and completion, visit the Academic Skills and Learning Centre:

ANU Library: See

ANU Counselling Centre: The ANU offers a free and confidential counselling service to all current ANU students and staff. See

ANUSA: The Australian National University Students' Association (ANUSA) is the representative body of undergraduate students on campus. If you're an undergraduate student at ANU, then you're an ANUSA member. ANUSA consists of a number of elected students. They present student issues to the University Council, to Faculty Boards and on other official committees. ANUSA also represents student issues outside the campus, organises social events and provides some student services which are not otherwise provided by the University. See

[Edited on 2017-10-27. These rules are now final.]