Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Physical Forces
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
Not available to students doing 3 year Physics B Sc (Hon) or 4 year MPhys.
GCSE Mathematics or equivalent
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 22 Hours to include lectures and tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   written examination  80%
Semester Assessment Problem Sheets and/or written assignments  20%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   written examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Use Newtonian mechanics to describe the behaviour of simple mechanical systems and be able to apply that understanding to solve simple problems in this area.

Apply the kinetic theory of gases to simple problems.

Brief description

This module explores the success of Newtonian physics in explaining the world around us - from the behaviour of gases to the orbit of planets. Starting from the cornerstone of Newton's three laws, the module progresses to examine the interaction of forces and material objects and introduces the concept of a central force field. Topics covered include: conservation laws, rotational motion, gravitational fields and potential, projectiles and intermolecular forces, kinetic theory of gases, qualitative description of the nature of the 4 fundamental forces.


Outline Syllabus-

Definitions of force, vector and scalar quantities addition of vectors
Components of vectors, adding vectors by components
Forces in equilibrium
Newton's three laws of motion
Impulse; conservation of momentum, elastic and inelastic collisions
Work, energy and power
Circular motion; centripetal force and acceleration
Rotation of solid bodies; moment of inertia, angular momentum
Couples, torques and angular acceleration
Parallels between translational and rotational motion
Motion under gravity, projectiles
Newtonian gravitation, Kepler's laws of planetary motion
Gravitational field, fields inside and outside the Earth, the orbit of satellites
Gravitational potential, escape velocity

Intermolecular forces and potential energy; thermal expansion
The kinetic theory of matter; an ideal gas
Derivation of pressure from consideration of molecular motions
The concept of rms velocity
Derivation of gas laws from kinetic theory

The gravitational, electromagnetic, strong- and weak-nuclear forces; their ranges and relative strengths

Reading List

Essential Reading
Nelkon, Michael. (1987.) Advanced level physics /Michael Nelkon, Philip Parker. 6th ed. Heinemann Educational Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4