Module Overview

Physics Theory II

This module the following sections:

  • Mechanics: The areas covered include: Newton’s laws, frictional forces, circular motion, rotational motion, conservation laws, harmonic oscillators, undamped, damped and driven systems.
  • Relativity: The areas covered include: equivalence principle, relativity principles, experimental tests of special relativity, relativistic shifts in length, time, velocity, momentum and energy.
  • The thermodynamics section of this module introduces the basic ideas of thermodynamics and their applications. The areas covered include: thermal properties of matter, kinetic theory of gases, molecular speed distribution, thermodynamic systems & potentials, reversible & irreversible processes, work & heat, laws of thermodynamics, simple work cycles, and ideal gases.
  • Electromagnetism and Optics: This course is designed to introduce the student to the basic and unifying principles of charges and currents, electric and magnetic forces and fields.  It takes a vectorial approach to electromagnetism leading to Maxwell’s Equations and hence to electromagnetic waves including light. These concepts are applied to the solution of a variety of elementary problems in situations where the wave nature is important. These are fundamental concepts in physics with which all physicists are expected to be thoroughly familiar.
  • Electronics and Semiconductors: A thorough introduction to electrical circuits, electronics, semiconductors, semiconductor devices and their applications is presented.
  • Quantum Mechanics: This section introduces quantum physics and why this theory of nature was necessary. The wave nature of matter and the quantum wavefunction are introduced. The Schrödinger equation is introduced and it solutions for some important situations are outlined.   Bonding in molecules follows a description of the hydrogen atom and multi-electron atoms leading on to a description of condensed matter. This is followed by a description of crystal structures, the defects in crystal structures and their impact on mechanical properties.
  • Nuclear Physics: This section of the module covers nuclear physics: a review of basic nuclear properties; the structure of the nucleus and nuclear forces; radioactivity; applications of nuclear physics.
  • Physical Applications of Mathematics: This section of the module will facilitate students to apply mathematical tools to the solution of complex physical problems drawn from the above topics.

Module Code

PHYS 2001

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Mechanics (14 hours)

  • Kinematics and motion in 1, 2 and 3 dimensions
  • Free body diagrams
  • Applications of Newton’s laws.
  • Frictional forces.
  • Dynamics of circular motion.
  • Formal derivation of the kinematic equations of rotational motion. 
  • Moments of inertia, kinetic energy of rotation. 
  • Angular momentum, torque and angular acceleration.
  • Newtonian gravity & Kepler’s Laws
  • Conservation laws in Physics.
  • Parallel axis theorem and applications.
  • Rotation about a moving axis.
  • The harmonic oscillator, equations and solutions.


Relativity (6 lectures)

  • Historical background to relativity, the Michelson-Morley experiment and modern experiments
  • Einstein’s special theory of relativity
  • Relativity of time and length
  • World lines, derivation of the Lorentz transformation.
  • The relativistic Doppler effect.
  • Relativistic velocity transformation. 
  • Relativistic momentum and energy.
  • The equivalence principle.


Heat and Thermodynamics (10 lectures)

  • Thermal Properties of matter,
  • Equations of state,
  • Molecular properties of matter,
  • Kinetic-Molecular Model of an ideal gas,
  • Heat capacities,
  • Molecular speeds,
  • Thermodynamics,
  • Thermodynamic systems,
  • Work and heat,
  • Reversible and irreversible processes,
  • Conservation of energy, internal energy, first law of thermodynamics,
  • Reversible isothermal, adiabatic, isochoric and isobaric processes,
  • Simple work cycles,
  • Adiabatic processes for an ideal gas.
  • Entropy and the second law of thermodynamics

Electromagnetism & Optics (24 Lectures)  

  • Development of the vector description of electric force;
  • Coulomb’s law;
  • Nature of Electric field;
  • Superposition of electric fields;
  • Electric fields due to various charge distributions;
  • Concept of flux;
  • Vector dot product;
  • Gauss’ Law;
  • Applications of Gauss’ law to various highly symmetrical distributions;
  • Charge on conductors and insulators;
  • Line integrals;
  • Electric potential;
  • Electric potential energy;
  • Gradient of potential;
  • Capacitance;
  • Magnetic field lines;
  • Magnetic flux;
  • Gauss’ Law in magnetics;
  • Magnetic field of current elements;
  • Biot-Savart law: examples of straight conductor, square and circular loops;
  • Ampere’s law, application, solenoids, introduction of displacement current;
  • Magnetic forces on conductors, definition of ampere, force and torque on current carrying loop in B field, d.c. electric motor;
  • Electromagnetic induction, origin of induced emf, Faraday’s law;
  • Lenz’s law, self and mutual inductance, the transformer, dynamo;
  • Maxwell’s equations, plane EM wave solutions. Light as EM wave.
  • Michelson and Mach-Zender interferometers;
  • Single slit intensity pattern
  • Multiple slits, diffraction grating.
  • Polarisation


Electronics and Semiconductors (24 Lectures)

  • Circuit Analysis.
  • Review of charge transport processes, mobility, current, current density, resistivity and conductivity, resistance, Ohm’s Law.
  • Resistances in series and parallel, the potential divider, variable resistors, power in dc circuits, power ratings, measuring instruments.
  • Kirchhoff’s rules for simple and multiloop circuits, equivalent circuits, Thévenin’s theorem, Maximum power transfer.
  • Review of capacitance, energy storage and capacitors in series and in parallel. R-C circuits, response to a potential step, solution of the differential equation, time constant.
  • Introduction of inductance, Lenz’s law, inductive energy storage. Inductors in series and in parallel. L-R circuits, response to a potential step, solution of the differential equation, time constant. LC circuits as introduction to oscillating currents and voltages.
  • AC sinusoidal signals, peak and rms values, power in a.c. circuits, resistance and reactance of R, L and C. Representation of sinusoid as rotating phasor, phasor transform, phasor notation.
  • Concept of impedance, impedance of R, L and C and combinations. Application to LR and RC filter circuits, series resonant LCR circuit.
  • Semiconductors, p and n doping, semiconductor diodes, I/V characteristics, leakage current, diode equation, diode logic, rectification, rectifier circuits, application to power supplies, smoothing, ripple, stabilisation. LEDs.
  • Bipolar transistor, biasing and bias circuits, current gain, common emitter amplifier, applications.


Quantum Physics (26 lectures)

  • Limits of Classical Physics: Blackbody radiation. Photoelectric effect. Compton effect. Atomic Line Spectra (energy levels). Pair production and annihilation. X-rays.
  • Bohr Model (angular momentum).
  • Wave Properties: De Broglie waves, particle diffraction, & wave-particle duality. Experimental evidence. Electron microscope.
  • Wave Packets: Phase and group velocities of matter waves.  Probability. Heisenberg uncertainty principle. The quantum wave function.
  • The Schrödinger Equation: Wave equation. Free-particle wave equation. Particle in an infinite potential well. Particle in a rectangular potential well. Barrier penetration and tunnelling, particle decay.
  • Fundamental forces and the standard model.
  • The Hydrogen Atom: quantum numbers, orbital shape, many-electron atoms.
  • Bonding of Atoms:
  • Ionic bonding (Madelung energy, repulsive energy, lattice energy, ionic size and shape, ionic structures).
  • Covalent bonding (Molecular orbitals, diatomic molecular orbital energies, bonding between unlike  atoms, electronegativity, bond strength and direction, orbital hybridisation, multiple bonds).
  • Metallic bonding.
  • Hydrogen bonding.
  • Weak chemical bonding (Lennard-Jones potential).
  • Crystal Structure. The solid, crystalline state, symmetry and geometry, Miller indices, the Bravais lattice, the unit cell, interplanar spacing, co-ordinate number and packing, elementary and compound crystals.
  • Defects in Crystals.  Defects: point, line, edge and screw dislocations, planar defects


Nuclear Physics (4 lectures)

  • Review of nuclei, mass and spin, magnetic moments, Rutherford particle scattering. 
  • Nuclear forces, stability of nuclei, binding energy.
  • Radioactivity, decay processes, mean and half- lives, activity and exponential decay.
  • Nuclear reactions.
  • Fission and fusion, chain reaction, power generation, nuclear weapons.


Physical Applications of Mathematics  (24 hours)


  • Circular motion, harmonic motion and simple harmonic motion
  • Fourier Methods, fourier synthesis and fourier transforms 
  • Vectors, dot and cross products
  • Algebraic analysis
  • Eigenvectors, eigen values, matrix operations
  • Complex numbers and conjugates
  • Distributions (normal, binomial, Poisson, Maxwell-Boltzmann)
  • Rates and rate equations
  • Differentiation and integration (by parts and by substitution), chain and product rules
  •  Wave Equation
  • Differential Equations
  • Algabraic manipulation for derivations

A variety of learning and teaching methods will be used throughout this module including  lectures, tutorials, self directed learning and problem based learning

This is a linked module, delivered across both semesters.

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination80
Other Assessment(s)20