Module Overview

Introductory Physics for Sciences and Health

The module introduces the student to some of the fundamental concepts of scientific notation & measurement, mechanics, waves, optics, thermal physics, electricity, and nuclear physics. It also introduces them to experimental physics in the form of a set of experiments performed in the laboratory which are related to the lecture material

Module Code

PHYS 1860

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Topics to be covered from the following:

Thermal Physics

Temperature, temperature scales, thermal expansion, heat capacity, phase changes, latent heat of melting & vaporisation, heat transfer, conduction, convection, radiation, evaporation, saturated vapours, ideal gases. Temperature regulation in humans. Application to food science.

Electricity & Magnetism

Electricity & magnetism: Conductors, insulators, current, voltage, resistance, charge, electrical circuits, Ohm’s law, resistors in series & parallel, resistivity, heating, non-ohmic devices, Coulomb’s law, static electricity, electric fields, dipoles, electric potential & electrical energy, power, magnetism, magnetic poles, Earth’s magnetic field, electromagnets, magnetic fields from a wire and a solenoid. Mass spectrometer.

Waves, Sound & Light

Waves: Transverse & longitudinal waves, wavelength, amplitude, frequency, speed, phases, sound waves, speed of sound, variation of speed of sound with temperature, infrasound & ultrasound, standing waves, resonance, reflection, refraction, diffraction, interference, decibel scale, beats.

Atomic & Nuclear

Structure of the atom, nucleons, isotopes, atomic number & mass, mass & energy conversion, unstable nuclei & radioactive decay, emission spectra of atoms, energy levels, photons, alpha-, beta- & gamma-decay, radon gas, law of radioactive decay, half-life, carbon dating, shielding, attenuation coefficient, inverse square law, range of particles, use of radioactive isotopes in industry, medicine & food preservation.


Specular & diffuse reflection, law of reflection, refractive index, refractive index, Snells’law, real & apparent depth, total internal reflection, critical angle, optical fibres, real & virtual images, converging & diverging lenses, ray diagrams, thin lens equation, magnifying glass, compound microscope, power of a lens, spherical mirrors, electromagnetic spectrum. Applications in industry and health science.


Mechanics: Motion, speed & velocity, acceleration, kinematic equations, force, Newton’s second law, weight, kinetic & potential energy, conservation of energy, pressure and pressure as a function of depth, buoyancy, surface tension & surfactants, infant respiratory distress syndrome, fluid flow, Bernoulli effect, Poiseuille’s law.

Experiments will be taken from the following list:

  • Introductory density experiment
  • Experiments with a helical spring
  • The simple pendulum
  • Measurement of the acceleration due to gravity (Free Fall Method)
  • Newton’s second law of motion
  • 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
  • Focal lengths of lenses
  • Focal length of mirrors
  • Determination of the wavelength of sodium light
  • Basic experiments in electricity
  • Resistivity & temperature coefficient of resistance of copper
  • Tungsten filament lamp
  • Attenuation of gamma radiation by matter

Inverse square law for gamma radiation

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination50
Other Assessment(s)50