Optics, Waves and Modern Physics (F3238)

15 credits, Level 3 (sub-degree)

Spring teaching

This module covers:

  • Waves: Definition of a wave. Equation for a progressive wave. Amplitude, wavelength, wavenumber, frequency, phase, energy in waves. Examples of waves. Doppler effect.
  • Interference: Superposition principle, standing waves and harmonics. Reflection at hard and soft boundaries, phase change at reflection, beats, coherence.
  • Physical optics: Coherent sources, optical path difference, two-slit interference pattern, diffraction gratings. Huygens' principle, single-slit diffraction, resolving power, refraction, reflection, total internal reflection. Interference in thin films, wedge fringes, Newton's rings. Michelson's experiment.
  • Introduction to non-classical physics. Topics include wave-particle duality, black body radiation, the photo-electric effect, the Compton effect, Heisenbergs uncertainty principle. The Bohr model of the Hydrogen atom, line spectra. Introduction to the quantum mechanical picture of the hydrogen atom. The Pauli exclusion principle. X-rays and lasers.
  • Nuclear physics. Radioactivity. Nuclear fission and fusion. Introduction to elementary particles.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 43 hours of contact time and about 107 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: