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Unit information: Preliminary Physics A - Mechanics, Waves and Optics in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Preliminary Physics A - Mechanics, Waves and Optics
Unit code PHYS10003
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Vasiljevic
Open unit status Open

GCSE Mathematics and Science or Physics or equivalent



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will introduce students to basics of mechanics, geometrical optics and fundamentals of wave motion. Students will be introduced to fundamental optical phenomena, analysis of simple optical systems and applications of mathematics to solve simple problems. The unit will introduce students to practical laboratory work, data analysis and experimental data presentation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to apply mathematics (without calculus) and basic physical principles to solve simple problems in statics and mechanics.

Students will learn to:

  • describe image formation by lenses and mirrors and be able to perform simply calculations with lenses and mirrors;
  • describe the properties of waves and oscillations in appropriate terminology and state the properties of the wave in the electromagnetic spectrum;
  • describe and perform simple calculations on the phenomena of interference, diffraction, reflection and refraction, polarisation, resonance and harmonics.

Students will perform experimental work by taking accurate measurements and analysing the results including the errors inherent in the apparatus, and writing a formal report.

Teaching Information

4 lectures and 1 tutorial each week for 12 weeks and 6 laboratory sessions.

Assessment Information

Formative Assessment:

  • Weekly problem sheets which are marked and discussed in tutorials. Mark laboratory notebooks

Summative Assessment:

  • 2 hour written exam (80%)
  • Laboratory mark (20%)

Engaging with, and passing, the laboratory element is a condition for the award of credit for this unit.

Reading and References

Recommended reading

  • Advanced Physics, Steve Adams and Jonathan Allday Oxford Press, 2nd edition
  • Advanced Physics for You, Keith Johnson, Simmone Hewett, Sue Holt, and John Miller, Nelson Thornes.

Further reading

  • Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics, by Paul A Tipler, Gene P Mosca, W H Freeman, 6th edition.