Module Overview

Physical Optics

The module will provide a background in physical optics and the properties of the behaviour of light within optical systems, which underlies concepts and principles encountered in optometry, dispensing and visual science modules in the later years of the programme.  The aim of this module is to provide a strong basis in physical and modern optics for the understanding of a range of concepts and principles encountered in future studies.

Module Code

PHYS 1812

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Wave theory and quantum optics: wave nature of light, introduction to quantum theory, harmonic waves, phase, propagation constant, spatial frequency, electromagnetic theory

Interference of light: Young’s experiment, Fraunhofer diffraction, double slit image intensity distribution,

coherence, interference filters, thin films, anti-reflection coatings

Polarisation: nature of polarised light, birefringence in anisotropic crystals, linear, circular, elliptical polarised light, polarisation by reflection, Malus’ law, polarisation angle and Brewster’s angle, applications

Diffraction: Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction, single and double slit image intensity distributions, resolving power and criteria of resolution, diffraction gratings, holography

Introduction to modern optics: generation of light, spectral and blackbody sources, light emitting diodes, lasers and ophthalmic applications, detection of light: film, photodiodes, photomultipliers, phototransistors, LCD and

CCD devices, optical fibres.

Methods include lectures, laboratory practical work, discussion in class and laboratories; problem-solving exercises within class and homework; applets and web based video; computer-based calculations, modelling and ray tracing techniques; text books and programme notes provided on the virtual learning environment; self-directed learning.

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination20
Other Assessment(s)80