Physics and astronomy

Foundations of Modern Physics

Module code: F3241
Level 4
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Workshop, Class
Assessment modes: Coursework, Unseen examination

This module gives you an introduction to the foundations of modern physics. It covers the following topics:

  • The historical context, including physics in the 19th century.
  • Black-body radiation, Planck's quanta, photons, photoelectric effect and the Compton effect.
  • Atoms, atomic spectra, Franck-Hertz and the Stern-Gerlach experiments.
  • The Bohr theory of the atom.
  • De Broglie waves.
  • Heisenberg uncertainty principle
  • Bosons and Fermions, antimatter and Bose-Einstein condensates.
  • The periodic system of elements.
  • Relativity from a historical perspective.
  • Inertial frames and transformations amd Newton's laws in inertial frames.
  • The Michelson-Morley experiment - observed constancy of speed of light and Einstein's assumptions.
  • Lorentz-Einstein transformations, Minkowski diagrams, Lorentz contraction and time dilation.
  • Transformation of velocities - stellar aberration, variation of mass and mass-energy equivalence.
  • Lorentz transformations for momentum and energy.


Pre-Requisite: A-level Physics

Co-Requisites: (F3210) Classical Mechanics ; (G5128) Mathematical Methods for Physics

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic concepts of quantum physics and of the reasons why classical physics has failed to describe the properties of light and matter in microscopic systems.
  • Apply relativistic principles and/or conservation and invariance properties to solve simple problems of special relativity.