Faculty of Science

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Science
Organisational UnitSchool of Physics
OfferedClayton First semester 2014 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Tim Petersen


This unit forms a part of mainstream physics for undergraduates who have undertaken year 12 physics at high-school (or equivalent). There are four main topics in this unit that together provide the foundations of a large part of classical and modern physics. In mechanics, Newton's laws, dynamics, energy, momentum and contemporary measurement theory (via laboratory experimentation) are reviewed. This ground-work leads to an introduction to modern thermodynamics through an understanding of the concept of work, the laws of thermodynamics, and the introduction to entropy. The waves part of the unit covers topics starting with simple harmonic motion that builds up to diffraction, superposition, wave optics and ray optics. The unit is rounded off by providing an introduction to special relativity.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Explain and understand concepts taught in the unit such as force, energy, work, and wave propagation;

  1. Apply their knowledge to solve problems related to these concepts;

  1. Evaluate and appraise novel situations in terms of mechanics, thermodynamics, waves and relativity;

  1. Execute experiments involving simple apparatus and analyse, interpret and evaluate the results arising from them;

  1. Present and communicate results of others and one's own experimentations in a scientific form.


Examination (3 hours): 58%
Laboratory work: 25%
Tests/Assignments: 17%
(Students must achieve a pass mark in the laboratory work to achieve an overall pass grade)

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

Three 1-hour lectures and one 3-hour laboratory class per week

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Year 12 Physics


Recommended: MTH1020, MTH1030 or MTH1035