Module Overview

Fundamental Physics

This Stage 1 module is an introduction to physics topics such as mechanics, optics, sound, properties of materials, heat, electricity, and magnetism. It is designed to develop an understanding of these topics. This module will be taught through student-centred teaching methods such as Peer Instruction.

On successful completion of the module the learner should be able to explain certain related words and concepts, perform calculations, solve problems, apply these concepts to new problems. They should be able to present, communicate and explain their ideas and solutions by several means such as report writing and presentations. They should be able to plan and perform experiments, collect data, analyze data, present results.

The two main components of this module are written/theory and practical/laboratory

Module Code

PHYS 1702

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Introduction to Physics Basic and derived S.I. units. Standards. Vectors and scalars. Scientific notation and prefixes. Experimental uncertainties. Graphs.


Mechanics Displacement, velocity, speed, and acceleration. Equations of motion with constant acceleration. Motion under gravity (free-fall). Force and Newton’s Laws. Weight, Tension, Friction. Work and energy. Kinetic Energy. Potential Energy. Law of Conservation of Energy. Power. Momentum. Law of Conservation of Momentum.


Properties of Materials Stress, strain, elastic moduli, and Hooke’s Law. General behaviour of materials under stress. Density. Pressure in a fluid and pressure at a depth. Measurement of pressure. The hydraulic lift. Buoyancy and Archimedes’ Principle. Fluid flow and the continuity equation and pressure in a moving fluid. Surface tension. Viscosity.


Heat and Temperature Heat. Specific Heat Capacity. Phase changes and specific latent heat. Temperature and temperature measuring devices. The Kelvin temperature scale. Thermal expansion. Heat transport – conduction, convection, radiation.


Electrostatics and Electricity Charge, attraction, repulsion, Coulomb’s Law. Capacitance, stored energy, power, voltage, current, Ohm’s law, resistance, resistors (parallel and series), resistivity, circuit symbols.


Magnetism Magnets, magnetic fields, electromagnetic applications, right hand rule, electromagnetism.


Geometrical Optics Refraction, Snell’s law, real and virtual images, concave and convex lenses, ray diagrams, thin lens equation, magnification, total internal reflection, optical instruments, reflection, concave and convex mirrors.


Physical Optics Waves, electromagnetic spectrum, interference, diffraction, young’s slits.


Sound Speed of sound, resonance, intensity.


Laboratory Typical laboratory experiment include:

 · Experiments with a helical spring,

 · The simple pendulum,

 · Measurement of the acceleration due to gravity (Free Fall Method),

 · Determination of the coefficient of viscosity of water by capillary flow,

· Newton’s second law of motion,

· Conservation of energy,

· Measurements on falling spheres in a viscous medium,

 · Specific heat capacity by the method of mixtures,

· Specific latent heat of fusion of ice,

· Specific heat capacity of a liquid using an electrical method,

· The thermocouple thermometer,

· Measurement of the thermal conductivity of a good conductor,

· Basic experiments in electricity,

· Current-voltage characteristics of a filament lamp,

· Determination of refractive index using a travelling microscope,

· Focal lengths of lenses,

 · Focal lengths of spherical mirrors,

· Determination of the wavelength of sodium light using a diffraction grating,

 · Measurements of the deviation of light passing through a glass prism,

· Measurements on the surface tension of water,

· Determination of the electrochemical equivalent of copper,

 · An approximate estimation of the Planck constant,

 · Attenuaton of γ-radiation by matter,

· Verification of the inverse square law for the intensity of γ -radiation,

· Stationary waves on a wire,

 · Melde’s experiment,

· Stationary waves in an air column,

· The Cathode Ray Oscilloscope,

· Temperature coefficient of resistance of copper.


These may be substituted by experiments of a similar nature and level. In addition some laboratory sessions will be focused on practical skills such as circuit construction and computer aided graph fitting.


Statements about the various types of learning and teaching methods that are used in the delivery of the module:


Live lectures, pre-recorded video lectures, peer instruction, tutorials, group work, laboratory activities and online resources delivered using Brightspace.


Peer Instruction (PI) is a lecture-based teaching method that involves students being posed with a physics question (usually conceptual) during a lecture and then voting on which answer they believe is correct. The students then peer-discuss the physics involved and vote again. It is through this discussion and voting which help students to develop a mental model of the physics involved.

Laboratory skills will be developed by doing hands on experiments with feedback on skill acquisition and report writing.


Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination30
Other Assessment(s)70