Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Dynamics, Relativity and Quantum Physics
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Part 1 core modules
Normal entry requirements for Part 1 Physics

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Practical Incorporated into PH15010 and PH15510


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Examples sheets. Deadlines are detailed in the Year 1 Example Sheet Schedule distributed by the Department   Course Work:  30%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   End of semester examination  70%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Describe the basic principals of Dynamics, Special Relativity and Quantum Theory and their implications for describing classical and microscopic phenomena.
  • Appreciate applications in predicting planetary motion, in describing space and time and in analysing the electronic properties of atoms and solids.
  • Interpret the physics of rotational motion, of radioactive decay rates and of the forces between atoms.
  • Solve simple numerical problems in Linear and Rotational Dynamics, Special Relativity and Quantum Physics.

Brief description

This module serves as a first introduction to modern physics from a starting point in classical physics, aiming to provide an understanding of the principles of both. Two strands to the module run side-by-side: the first concentrating on classical kinematics, Newton's Laws, energy and momentum and rotational motion, with an introduction to Special Relativity and its implications for describing space and time. The second strand introduces the fundamentals of Quantum Theory at a simple level, applied to explain the properties of atoms, molecules, solids and nuclei. An emphasis will be placed on the solution of problems related to concepts and example sheets will include numerical exercises.



Kinematics: Newton's laws of motion; inertial frames; Galilean transformations; relativity principle of Newtonian mechanics; momentum and kinetic energy; collision processes; internal forces; centre-of-mass system.
Gravity and weight.
Universal gravitation: g and G; variation of g for terrestrial observer; planetary motion and artificial satellites.
Potential energy and gravitational fields.
Rotational motion: centripetal acceleration/force; moment of inertia; equation of motion; angular momentum; analogy between linear and rotational motion.


Introduction and discussion of the shortcomings of pre-relativistic physics, which lead to the simple postulates of Special Relativity, with spectacular results in our understanding of space and time. The Lorentz-Einstein transformations are derived from the postulates, leading to an understanding of time-dilation and Lorentz contraction.

Quantum Physics

Radiation: Black-body radiation, Laws of Wein and Stefan, breakdown of classical theory, Planck function.
Photoelectric effect, photon as particle.
Rutherford Scattering, Bohr atom and one-electron spectra.
Nuclear masses, mass number, binding energy, stable nuclei.
Radioactive decay, beta-ray spectra, gamma-ray spectra, half life.
Wave-particle duality, Young's slit experiment. Elementary particles. The standard model.
De Broglie relationships, Electron diffraction, the Uncertainty Principle.
Progression from Bohr theory: Schrodinger equation, introduction to the wave function. Standing waves.
Multielectron atoms: the idea of orbitals and the four quantum numbers. Pauli Exclusion Principle.
Periodic Table, molecular orbitals and covalent bonding.
Ionic and van der Waals bonds. Inter-atomic energy curve.
Crystalline and amorphous solids. Types of crystals, crystal organisation.
Electrons in crystals: introduction to band theory. Conductors, insulators, semiconductors.

Transferable skills

Solving numerical examples


This module is at CQFW Level 4