Module Identifier PH21010  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Dr Eleri Pryse  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Keith Birkinshaw  
Pre-Requisite Core Physics Modules at Level 1  
Course delivery Lecture   20 lectures  
  Seminars / Tutorials   2 seminars/workshops/exercise classes; 2 tutorials  
Assessment Course work   Example Sheets Example Sheets 1,2,5,6,7 & 10 Deadlines are detailed in the Year 2 Example Sheet Schedule distributed by the Department   30%  
  Exam   2 Hours End of Semester Examinations   70%  

Module description

Classical mechanics is a very old subject with many of its principles being established by Sir Isaac Newton in the seventeenth century, yet it forms a strong foundation to modern physics. It aims to predict the behaviour of systems on the basis of certain postulates that are tested by experimental evidence. Classical mechancis has proved very successful for bodies moving at low speeds but is unable to describe phenomena involving speeds approaching that of light and in this respect it has been superseded by relativity. The module aims to describe some of the fundamental concepts of classical mechanics, and basic principles of relativity.

Learning outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:

Outline syllabus


Special theory

Lorentz transformation; relativistic interval; Minkowski diagram; causality.
Transformation of velocities.
Relativistic optics: aberration of light; Doppler effect.
Relativistic dynamics: E=mc2; energy-momentum transformations and four-vector.
Compton scattering.

General theory

Inertial and gravitational mass; Principle of Equivalence.
Gravitational redshift; Clocks in a gravitational field.
Einstein's theory of gravity; geodesics; non-Euclidean space-time.
The Schwarzschild solution; black holes.


Harmonic motion: revision of simple harmonic motion, damped and forced harmonic motion.
Coupled osciallators.
Rotational motion: angular momentum and torque, moment of inertia; conservation of angular momentum, gyroscopic motion.
Introduction to Lagrangian mechanics.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
G.R. Fowles and G.L. Cassidy. Analytical Mechanics. Saunders College Publishing 0030223172
** Supplementary Text
A.P. French. Special Relativity. Van Nostrand Reinhold 0442307829
G.F.R. Ellis and R.M. Williams. Flat and Curved Space-Times. Clarendon Press 0198511698