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Unit information: Introductory Mathematics for Physics in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Introductory Mathematics for Physics
Unit code PHYS10009
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Rademacker
Open unit status Not open
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School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Unit Information

Why is this unit important?

Maths is the language by which we describe, explore and communicate the physical world. Its immutable capacity for proof allows us to make predictions based on our models and has facilitated scientific discovery. As such it forms the foundation of the physics degree and is used continuously and constantly throughout. In this unit you will learn how to write a mathematical descriptions of physics problems, how to interpret this mathematical model, and how to look for solutions. This will deepen your understanding of how to use mathematics to understand real-world problems. The problem-solving skills you will develop are widely transferrable and will be used throughout your degree.

How does this unit fit into your programme of study?

You will use the material covered in this unit throughout your degree and will constantly refer to the content taught. This unit will ensure that all students have the same set of basic knowledge, provide practice and training in the mathematics needed to complete the first-year physics units, and lay the foundations for mathematics and mathematical physics units in subsequent years.

Your learning on this unit

What will you learn on this unit?

You will be introduced to the mathematics you need to provide a solid foundation for the initial stages of your physics degree. The mathematical concepts will be introduced in a physics context to help you recognise why they are useful. This will be done through selected case studies where you will see the mathematics applied directly and learn how it may be adapted to other examples. You will be introduced to fundamental tools in mathematics including:

• Trigonometric and hyperbolic functions
• Vectors
• Complex numbers
• Series expansions, limits and convergence
• Functions and graph sketching
• Differential calculus
• Integral Calculus
• Solution of linear ordinary differential equations
• Taylor and Maclaurin series
• Fourier series
• Introduction to formal logic and mathematical proof

You will develop the mathematical skills and practice using the mathematical tools needed for first-year Physics.

Your learning: How will this unit change what you know, how you think and what you can do?

This unit will help you think creatively, make connections between physics and maths, and apply your mathematical knowledge to solve real world problems. You will gain confidence in tackling physics problems.

How you will learn

How you will learn

You will experience the course content through a variety of media; provided online videos, course notes as well as carefully curated content from other providers. You will gain practical experience of the mathematics through guided enquiry exercises using principles of programmed learning - guided exercises which give regular structured feedback to help you follow the steps, supported by examples classes showing worked examples and model solutions. You will have regular tutorials where your work will be marked, and you can discuss mathematical problem solving.

Your self-directed activities will be supported by regular classes and online learning.

• Weekly recorded short videos.
• One live lecture per week, with Q&A session.
• Biweekly live tutorials.
• Biweekly on-line electronic maths tests with feedback.
• One-hour examples class every week with Q&A session.

How much time the unit requires

A 20-credit point unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete (each credit equates to 10 hours of work). Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity. It is estimated that this unit will require about 10 hours of work per week, consisting of 7 hours reviewing pre-recorded videos, attending lecture, and taking notes; 3 hours attempting on-line test and preparing for the tutorials.

How you will be assessed

How you will be assessed (requirements for the award of credit)

Tasks which help you learn and prepare you for summative tasks (formative):
The formative feedback on your progress is provided in biweekly tutorials sessions which give you feedback on written work, including exam style questions, where you can interact and discuss problems with other students. In the weekly example classes, you can discuss problems with other students, followed by a presentation showing worked examples and Q&A session.

Tasks which count towards your unit mark (summative):
Biweekly online tests will reinforce your knowledge at each stage of the unit. The online tests provide feedback, and you can retake these tests to improve your understanding of the key concepts. These online tests contribute 20% to the unit mark and should give you confidence that you have mastered the key concepts in the unit.

There is an end of unit examination in January that contributes 80% of the unit mark.

When assessment does not go to plan

Supplementary or re-sit assessment will consist of a combination of online tests (20% of the unit mark) and a written examination (80% of the unit mark). Students re-sitting assessment only need to attempt the components that they have failed.

The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.

Assessments required for credit

  1. Online tests: Mobius Online Test; not timed; weighting 20%
  2. Written exam: OneNote written Exam; 2.5 hours; weighting 80%


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. PHYS10009).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.