Module Identifier PH14020  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Professor Geraint Vaughan  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr James Whiteway, Dr Keith Birkinshaw  
Pre-Requisite Normal entry requirements for Part 1 Physics  
Co-Requisite Part 1 core modules  
Course delivery Lecture   40 Lectures  
  Workshop   2 Example Classes  
  Practical   Incorporated into PH15010 and PH15510  
Assessment Course work   Examples sheets 1,2,3,4,5,6,8 &9 Deadlines are detailed in the Year 1 Example Sheet Schedule distributed by the Department   30%  
  Exam   3 Hours End of semester examination   70%  

Brief description

This module serves as a first introduction to modern physics from a starting point in classical physics, aiming to provide an understanding of the principles of both. Two strands to the module run side-by-side: the first concentrating on classical kinematics, Newton's Laws, energy and momentum and rotational motion, with an introduction to Special Relativity and its implications for describing space and time. The second strand introduces, the fundamentals of Quantum Theory at a simple level, applied to explain the properties of atoms, molecules, solids and nuclei. An emphasis will be placed on the solution of problems related to concepts and example sheets will include numerical exercises.

Learning outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:

Additional learning activities

Voluntary sessions on SToMP - Computer Aided Learning package which is available to all physics students on the campus network. SToMP has a good introduction to relativity.

Outline syllabus


Kinematics: Newton's laws of motion; inertial frames; Galilean transformations; relativity   principle of Newtonian mechanics; momentum and kinetic energy; collision processes; internal forces; centre-of-mass system.
-Gravity and weight.
Universal gravitation: g and G; variation of g for terrestrial observer; planetary motion and artificial satellites.
Potential energy and gravitational fields.
Rotational motion: centripetal acceleration/force; moment of inertia; equation of motion; angular momentum; analogy between linear and rotational motion.


Introduction and discussion of the shortcomings of pre-relativistic physics, which lead to the simple postulates of Special Relativity, with spectacular results in our understanding of space and time. The Lorentz-Einstein transformations are derived from the postulates, leading to an understanding of time-dilation and Lorentz contraction.

Quantum Physics

Radiation: Black-body radiation, Laws of Wein and Stefan, breakdown of classical theory, Planck function.
Photoelectric effect, photon as particle.
Rutherford Scattering, Bohr atom and one-electron spectra.
Nuclear masses, mass number, binding energy, stable nuclei.
Radioactive decay, beta-ray spectra, gamma-ray spectra, half life.
Wave-particle duality, Young's slit experiment.
De Broglie relationships, Electron diffraction, the Uncertainty Principle.
Progression from Bohr theory: Schrodinger equation, introduction to *. Standing waves.
Multielectron atoms: the idea of orbitals and the four quantum numbers. Pauli Exclusion Principle.
Periodic Table, molecular orbitals and covalent bonding.
Ionic and van der Waals bonds.   Inter-atomic energy curve.
Crystalline and amorphous solids. Types of crystals, crystal organisation.
Electrons in crystals: introduction to band theory. Conductors, insulators, semiconductors.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
P.A. Tipler. Physics for Scientists and Engineers. Freeman Worth 1-57259-673-2
** Supplementary Text
A.P. French. Newtonian Mechanics. Van Nostrand Reinhold 0-39-309970-9
A.P. French. Special Relativity. Nelson Thomas 0-412-34320-7
A. Beiser. Concepts of Modern Physics. McGraw-Hill 0-07-113849-8