Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20
Seminars / Tutorials 2
Workload Breakdown Example sheets 20 hours; Lectures 20 hours; Tutorials 2 hours; Private Study 58 hours


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   70%
Semester Assessment 2 example sheets  30%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1.Describe the basic principles of geometric and physical optics and their use in optical instruments and techniques

2.Understand diffraction and the limits to resolution for optical instruments

3.Describe the basic principles of polarisation and wave propogation in uniaxial crystals.

4.Describe the operation of a laser

5.Give examples of the use of the coherence properties of laser light

6.Identify the applications of guided wave technology

7.Describe the basic physics of infra-red imaging.


Optics is one of the most successful branches of classical physics. Applications of optics abound throughout our technology, ranging from microscopy through to photonics. This course will cover the basic theory of geometrical and physical optics and discuss applications of these area in modern technology.

Brief description

The basic physics of geometrical and physical optics will be introduced, emphasizing physical principles. The module will then pursue various applications of key ideas of optics in modern technology, including examples such as fibre optics, holography and semiconductor lithography.


The nature of electromagnetic waves.The electromagnetic spectrum. Energy carried by electromagnetic waves. Polarization
Sources of light - conventional and laser. Basic operation of lasers. Types of lasers.
Detectors of light - photomultipliers and photodiodes.
Reflection of light. Wavefronts and Rays.
Images formed by plane mirrors.
Reflection at curved surfaces. Convex and concave mirrors. Images in concave and convex mirrors. Mirror formulae and sign convention.
Refraction of light. Snell's law. Total internal reflection. Optical waveguiding.
Refraction of light through prisms.
Refraction at curved surfaces. Refraction through thin lenses.
Formation of images by lenses. Combinations of lenses
Lens aberrations. Some simple optical instruments.
Wave properties of light. Interference, two-beam intereference, then film interference and its applications. Michelson interferometer, multiple-beam intereference, Fabry-Perot etalon. Diffraction, Fraunhofer, single slit, double slit, diffraction grating, resolution limits of diffraction on optical instruments.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number All questions set in example sheets and formal exams have numerical problems
Improving own Learning and Performance Formative assessments are used in order that students might reflect on their progress during the module
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 this fields and hence will contribute, to an extent, career development.
Problem solving Problem solving is a key skill in physics and this wil be tested via lecture problem sheets and in formal examination at the end of the module
Research skills Students will be set problems in lectures which will entail research in library and over the internet

Reading List

Recommended Text
Jenkins and White (1976) Fundamental of Optics Primo search P. A. Tipler (2003) Physics for Scientists and Engineers W. H. Freeman Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4