Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Classical Physics 1
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Part 1 core modules
Normal entry requirements for Part 1 Physics
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 36 Lectures
Other 8 hours Examples Workshops


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 3 Hours   Written Examination  70%
Semester Assessment Course Work: Example sheets  30%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   Supplementary exam  100%

Learning Outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:

  • Understand the basic principles of electromagnetism, oscillations and waves and apply them to simple macroscopic and microscopic systems.
  • Analyse the superposition of oscillations and waves and the response of simple electronic circuits to alternating currents.
  • Discuss the concepts of temperature and heat transfer.
  • Describe the basic properties of dielectric, magnetic, electrically conducting and thermal materials.

Brief description

Classical Physics describes the macroscopic world of electricity, magnetism, mechanics, optics, heat and sound, the knowledge of which underpins much of today's engineering and technology. The origins of classical physics, though, lie in the microscopic world of electrons, atoms and molecules and many phenomena at this level can be inferred at least qualitatively from classical ideas. Concepts like electric charge and current, electric and magnetic fields and electromagnetic induction describe the operation both of electric circuits and of dielectric and magnetic materials. Together with the ideas of mass, displacement, restoring force and friction, potential and kinetic energy, they furnish our understanding of oscillatory and wave motion and form the basis for defining temperature, heat transfer and also the propagation of sound and light. This module concentrates on electricity, magnetism, current electricity, oscillations, heat and temperature, waves, sound and light.


Electric fields and the laws of Coulomb and Gauss applied to different geometries of electrical charge distribution. Electric potential versus electric field, equipotential surfaces, capacitors and electrical energy density. Dielectric materials.

Magnetic fields, current loops and magnetic materials. The laws of Biot-Savart and Ampere applied to electric currents in wires and solenoids. Electromagnetic induction (Faraday's Law and Lenz' Law), self inductance and magnetic energy density.

Current Electricity:
dc current, electrical resistivity of conducting materials and batteries. ac currents in resistors, capacitors and inductors.

Simple Harmonic Motion (period, amplitude, velocity, acceleration and energy) and its application in mechanical pendulums for measuring g and LC circuits for frequency generators. Damped and forced oscillations. Resonance in mechanical (suspension systems) and electrical systems (LCR circuits).

Heat and Temperature:
Oscillations in molecules, energy, temperature, thermal expansion and thermal conductivity. Thermometers and the ideal gas temperature scale. Thermal equilibrium versus heat transfer and the Zeroth law of Thermodynamics. Thermal materials.

Wave Motion:
Travelling waves and the wave equation (wavelength, frequency, phase velocity). Superposition of waves, interference and standing waves (e.g. in water). Dispersion, wave packets and group velocity. Doppler Effect in sound waves and light.

Reading List

General Text
Tipler, Paul Allen (c2008.) Physics for scientists and engineers :with modern physics /Paul A. Tipler, Gene Mosca. 6th ed. W.H. Freeman Primo search Woan, Graham (2003.) The Cambridge handbook of physics formulas /Graham Woan. Corr. ed. Cambridge University Press Primo search
Should Be Purchased
Tipler, Paul Allen (2004.) Physics for scientists and engineers /[Paul A. Tipler, Gene Mosca] 5th edition. W.H. Freeman Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4