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Unit information: Quantum Physics 301 in 2021/22

Unit name Quantum Physics 301
Unit code PHYS32011
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Tony Short
Open unit status Not open

120 credit points at Level 5/I in single or joint honours physics.



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

In the first half this course, we will give a more formal basis for the subject of Quantum Mechanics. This starts with a discussion of Dirac Notation, which is a particularly efficient way of working with the formalism of quantum mechanics. Using Dirac notation, we will formulate the principles and rules of quantum mechanics, and see how they apply to real physical situations.

Some of the elementary systems that you already know from your second year quantum mechanics course will then be covered again, in much more detail. These include spin-1/2, the harmonic oscillator and the angular momentum states of, for example, the hydrogen atom.

In the second half of the course, we will use the newly learned formalism to study real-life applications of quantum mechanics. We will find that the description of many systems is too complicated to be solved exactly. We will introduce several powerful approximation techniques to deal with these situations.

We will conclude by considering the role of time evolution in quantum mechanics, and its connection to symmetries, conservation laws, and approximation schemes for dynamical systems.

At the end of the course, you will have a good understanding of what all these topics entail, and you will be able to perform calculations in all of these subjects by yourself.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • phrase and analyse any problem in quantum mechanics within the formalism of Dirac notation.
  • use the mathematical structures used by Dirac notation to do practical calculations.
  • explain why approximation techniques are required to solve generic quantum mechanical problems and indicate when and how these techniques must be applied.
  • formulate problems and perform calculations within the variational principle, perturbation theory, degenerate perturbation theory and time-dependent perturbation theory.
  • analyse the time-dependence of quantum mechanical systems, in any one of its three pictures
  • explain the relation between perturbation theory and the roles of time evolution and symmetry transformations in quantum mechanics.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • asynchronous online materials, including narrated presentations and worked examples
  • synchronous group problems classes, workshops, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous directed individual formative exercises and other exercises
  • guided, structured reading

Assessment Information

Written, timed, open-book examination (80%) Coursework (20%)


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. PHYS32011).

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.