Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Relativity & Mechanics
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Core Physics Modules at Level 1 or MP(MT)14010, MA11010 and MA11210
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1-hour lectures and examples classes
Seminars / Tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   : Written examination  70%
Semester Assessment 2 Example Sheets    30%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   : Written examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Describe the basic principles of the special and general theories of relativity;
2. Solve problems in relativity by application of the basic principles and by the selection and use of appropriate mathematical techniques;
3. Provide mathematical models for problems on damped and forced oscillatory systems, simple coupled systems and rotating bodies. Solve the mathematical problems and interpret the results in the physical context.

Brief description

Classical mechanics has proved very successful in explaining and predicting the behaviour of bodies moving at low speeds but not at speeds approaching that of light, while relativity deals with the latter situations. This module develops the fundamental concepts and techniques of both of these theories, providing a sound mathematical basis in each case.


To gain understanding of the classical theory of mechanics and the theory of relativity fundamental to modern physics. The application of mathematics throughout this module ensures that it is suitable as a core module for many honours degree schemes in Mathematics and Physics.



_Special theory
Lorentz transformation; relativistic interval; Minkowski diagram; causality.
Transformation of velocities.
Relativistic optics: aberration of light; Doppler effect.
Relativistic dynamics: E=mc2; energy-momentum transformations and four-vector.
Compton scattering.

_General theory
Inertial and gravitational mass; Principle of Equivalence.
Gravitational redshift; Clocks in a gravitational field.
Einstein's theory of gravity; geodesics; non-Euclidean space-time.
The Schwarzschild solution; black holes.


Harmonic motion: revision of simple harmonic motion, damped and forced harmonic motion.
Coupled oscillators.
Rotational motion: angular momentum and torque, moment of inertia; conservation of angular momentum, gyroscopic motion.

Reading List

Recommended Text
G.R. Fowles and G.L. Cassidy Analytical Mechanics Saunders College Publishing Primo search
Supplementary Text
A.P.French Special Relativity Van Nostrand Reinhold Primo search G.F.R. French and R.M. Williams Flat and Curved Space-Times Clarendon Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5