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Physics - PY1P10/PY1N10

Michaelmas Term – lectures, practical laboratory, online & small group tutorials – 10 credits
(M Möbius, M Ferreira, L Bradley)

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Express in mathematical language the motion of a body under the action of forces
  • Describe wave motion and relate it to basic phenomena in light and sound
  • Understand sources of errors in measurements and calculate their propagation.
  • Prepare a brief report, including error analysis, on a simple physical experiment


  • Examination (written paper) - 60%
  • Laboratory practical work - 30%
  • Online tutorials - 10%


What is Physics?

Lecturers: Professors M. Möbius
Duration: Michaelmas Term 3 lectures
Description: An introduction to the School of Physics, the JF Physics course and statistical methods.

The Physics of Motion

Lecturers: Professor M. Ferreira
Duration:Michaelmas Term 20 lectures
Description: Kinematics: velocity, acceleration, representation of motion through graphs, projectile motion, circular motion. Statics: forces, torque, equilibrium. Dynamics: force-motion relations, Newton's laws, work, energy, linear and angular momenta, impulse, collisions, conservation laws.

Waves and Optics I

Lecturers: Professor L. Bradley
Duration: Michaelmas Term 20 lectures
Description:Resonance, harmonic oscillators, SHM, frequency. Waves: standing, travelling, wavelength, wave velocity. Sound: music, vibrations of a string and of a column of air, harmonics, Doppler effect. Light: Rayleigh scattering, refraction, reflection, dispersion, index of refraction, polarization, polarized reflection, Malus' law, birefringence, total internal reflection, colour vision, gas discharges, lasers. Optics: refracting optics, lenses, real images, focus, focal length, f-numbers, lens equation, cameras, reflecting optics, curved mirrors, telescopes. Interference: superposition of waves, beating, 2 beam interference, anti-reflection coating. Diffraction: Huygen's principle, diffraction by a slit and grating, X-ray diffraction.


Lecturers: Professors M. Möbius
Duration: Michaelmas Term 10 lectures
Description: Systematic and random errors. Discrete and continuous distributions such as binomial, Poisson, Gaussian and Lorentzian. Moments of a distribution. Histograms and probability densities. Estimation of mean and standard deviation in a measurement. Error propagation and transformation of variables in probability distributions. Linear regression analysis, method of least squares, goodness of fit (Chi squared) and plotting techniques. Introduction to programming basics in Python.