Physics and astronomy

Foundations of Modern Physics

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

This module gives you an introduction to the foundations of modern physics. 

Topics covered include:

  • Historical context, physics in the 19th century
  • black-body radiation, Planck's quanta, photons, photoelectric effect, Compton effect
  • atoms, atomic spectra, Franck-Hertz and Stern-Gerlach experiments
  • Bohr theory of the atom
  • De Broglie waves
  • Heisenberg uncertainty principle
  • bosons and fermions, antimatter, Bose-Einstein condensates
  • periodic system of elements
  • relativity: Historical perspective
  • inertial frames and transformations, Newton's laws in inertial frames
  • Michelson-Morley experiment - observed constancy of speed of light, Einstein's assumptions
  • Lorentz-Einstein transformations, Minkowski diagrams, Lorentz contraction, time dilation
  • transformation of velocities - stellar aberration, variation of mass, 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.