Module Overview

Waves and Vibrations

This module presents an extensive overview of the physics of waves and vibrations. While other Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 modules also cover aspects of waves and vibrations, this module is a concentrated presentation on this very fundamental topic that underlies many areas of physics. The module starts by revisiting the basic of waves and vibrations and moves through dealing with Fourier methods and applications.

Module Code

PHYS 2805

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Circular motion as generator of waves – phasor description,

Harmonic motion revisited – oscillation as energy exchange,

Undamped, damped and forced systems,

Superposition of simple harmonic oscillators (beats),

A wide range of physical oscillators (mechanical, electrical),

Coupled oscillators – normal modes of vibration,

Travelling waves - how to make them move,

The Wave Equation,

Phase velocity,

Transverse wave propagation on a string,

Reflection and transmission of waves at a boundary – impedance matching,

Wave groups and group velocity,

Longitudinal: sound waves; waves in a solid; applications to earthquakes,

Fourier Methods:

Fourier synthesis - Application of cosine and sine series to form repetitive waveforms e.g. square, triangular, pulse waveforms,

Fourier Transforms,

Common Fourier transform pairs, with examples,

Uncertainty principle for waves,

Applications of the Fourier transform e.g. optical diffraction from a single slit,

Acoustic applications of the Fourier transform,

Nonlinear oscillation – chaos, shocks, solitons,

Lectures, supported by tutorials, laboratory experiments and self directed learning

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Other Assessment(s)100