In this thesis I use effective models to investigate the properties of QCD-like theories at nonzero temperature and baryon chemical potential. First I construct a PNJL model using a lattice spin model with nearestneighbor interactions for the gauge sector and four-fermion interactions for the quarks in (pseudo)real representations of the gauge group. Calculating the phase diagram in the plane of temperature and quark chemical potential in QCD with adjoint quarks, it is qualitatively confirmed that the critical temperature of the chiral phase transition is much higher than the deconfinement transition temperature. At a chemical potential equal to half of the diquark mass in the vacuum, a diquark Bose–Einstein condensation (BEC) phase transition occurs. In the two-color case, a Ginzburg–Landau expansion is used to study the tetracritical behavior around the intersection point of the deconfinement and BEC transition lines which are both of second order. A compact expression for the expectation value of the Polyakov loop in an arbitrary representation of the gauge group is obtained for any number of colors, which allows us to study Casimir scaling at both nonzero temperature and chemical potential. Subsequently I study the thermodynamics of two-color QCD (QC2D) at high temperature and/or density using ZQCD, a dimensionally reduced superrenormalizable effective theory, formulated in terms of a coarse grained Wilson line. In the absence of quarks, the theory is required to respect the Z2 center symmetry, while the effects of quarks of arbitrary masses and chemical potentials are introduced via soft Z2 breaking operators. Perturbative matching of the effective theory parameters to the full theory is carried out explicitly, and it is argued how the new theory can be used to explore the phase diagram of two-color QCD
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