Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Introduction to Physical Forces
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
PH10110, Not available to students doing 3 year Physics BSc(Hon) or 4 year MPhys
GCSE Mathematics or equivalent
Reading List
External Examiners
  • Professor Pete Vukusic (Professor - Exeter University)
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   written examination  70%
Semester Assessment Problem sheets and/or written assignments  30%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   written examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Recall Newton's laws of motion in qualitative terms.
2. Apply ideas about Newtonian Mechanics to calculate solutions to simple problems on forces.
3. Apply the principles of conservation of energy and momentum to solve simple problems.
4. Apply the kinetic theory of gases to a range of simple problems.
5. State and interpret Kepler's laws of planetary motion.

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, and a 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.


This module is at CQFW Level 3