Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Forces of Nature
Academic Year
Semester 2
A-level Mathematics or equivalent
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 11 x 2 hour lectures
Seminars / Tutorials 11 x 2 hour workshops


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 3 Hours   70%
Semester Assessment Example Sheets  To be completed during the teaching semester  30%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   Supplementary Examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Understand the basic principles of gravitational electrostatic and magnetic fields and apply these to numerical examples of simple systems.

2. Describe the basic properties of dielectric, magnetic, and electrically conducting materials.

3. Calculate the force on a charged particle in electric and magnetic fields and describe the motion of a charged particle in a uniform electric field.

4. Calculate the potential of a system of charged particles.

5. Describe the structure and function of resistors, and capacitors.

6. Use phasor diagrams, vector methods and complex numbers to analyse AC circuits.

7. Describe basic principles underlying atomic, nuclear and particle physics and apply these to examples of simple systems.


The module considers the principles underlying gravitational and electrostatic fields and introduces magnetism, electricity and electric circuits. It also introduces basic concepts in atomic, nuclear and particle physics. Emphasis is placed on the solution of problems, and examples sheets include numerical exercises. This module prepares students for more advanced modules in Part 2.

Brief description

The module discusses the forces arising from gravitational and electrostatic fields and describes these in terms of the inverse square law with illustrative examples. Associated fields and potentials are also described. Electric charge and current, magnetic fields and electromagnetic induction are used to describe the operation of electric circuits and the properties of dielectric and magnetic materials. The module also covers the basic physics underpinning atomic, nuclear and particles physics.


1. Kepler's laws.
2. Newton's law of Gravity.
3. Gravitational potential energy.

1. Electric fields and the laws of Coulomb and Gauss applied to different geometries of electrical charge distribution.
2. Electric potential versus electric field, equipotential surfaces.
3. Electrically conducting, semiconducting and dielectric materials.
4. Capacitors and electrical energy density.

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

1. Current and resistance, Ohm's Law, resistivity.
2. DC circuits - resistors in series and parallel, internal resistance, energy and power.
3. Potential divider circuits and Kirchoff's rules.

1. AC currents in resistive, capacitive and inductive circuits.
2. Reactance and impedance, transients. Analysis of AC circuits using phasor diagrams, vector methods and complex numbers.
3. Power and phase angle. RCL circuits in series and parallel and conditions for resonance.

1. Nuclear masses and binding energies.
2. Radioactive decay.
3. Elementary particles, fundamental forces and the standard model.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number All questions set in example sheets and formal exams have numerical problems.
Information Technology Students will be expected to research topics within the module via the internet.
Personal Development and Career planning The module will highlight the latest technological developments in these fields and will contribute to career development.
Problem solving Problem solving skills are developed throughout this module and tested in assignments and in the written examination.
Research skills Directed reading will allow students to explore the background to the lecture modules. This will be addressed by weekly exercises that will also entail research in library and over the internet.
Team work Students work in groups in the workshops.


This module is at CQFW Level 4