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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Physics and Astronomy : Undergraduate (School of Physics and Astronomy)

Undergraduate Course: Physics 1A: Foundations (PHYS08016)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Physics and Astronomy CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis is an introductory-level course, covering the classical physics of kinematics, dynamics, oscillations, forces and fields, and touching on aspects of contemporary physics, including relativity and chaos. The course is designed for those with qualifications in physics and mathematics at SCE-H level or equivalent. It serves both as a preparation for further study in physics-based degree courses, and as a stand-alone course for students of other disciplines, including mathematics, chemistry, computer science and engineering. The course is supported by an IT resource base of multimedia teaching material. The course is appropriately combined with Physics 1B (PHY-1-B).
Course description Section 1: The Tools of the Trade
This introductory section explores what Physics is and reviews the key tools (mental, not metal) needed in the practice of Physics.
1.1 The trade: what is Physics?
1.2 Units
1.3 Numbers
1.4 Vectors
1.5 Problem solving

Section 2: Space and Time
Physics deals with the sequence of events that make up the unfolding story of the universe. The most basic questions we can ask about 'events' are 'where?' and 'when?' Thus Space and Time are the key concepts of physics. In this section we explore the classical view of Space and Time developed by Galileo and Newton, and touch on its failures, unearthed by Einstein.
2.1 One dimensional particle kinematics
2.2 Kinematics in two (or three) dimensions
2.3 Application: projectile motion
2.4 Application: circular motion
2.5 Relativity: the common sense view
2.6 Relativity: Einstein's view

Section 3: Force Mass and Motion
Understanding a changing world means understanding motion. This section is concerned with the key concepts (mass, force) underlying the classical Newtonian theory of motion, and expressed in Newton's three laws. We illustrate the application of these laws in the context of a wide range of forces, and touch on some of the curious 'forces' encountered in 'accelerating' reference frames.
3.1 Inertial reference frames: Newton's 1st Law
3.2 Force and mass: Newton's 2nd and 3rd laws
3.3 How to use Newton's Laws
3.4 Classification of forces
3.5 Gravitational force near the earth's surface
3.6 Normal contact force
3.7 Tension
3.8 Frictional force
3.9 Linear restoring force
3.10 The centripetal force
3.11 The gravitational force
3.12 The electrostatic force
3.13 Fictitious forces

Section 4: Energy and Work
To describe the changing world around us, we must describe its state. Energy is one of the key tools that allow us to do this. In this section we explore the concept of energy: its definition, its conservation and its utility in problem solving.
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Work
4.3 Power: the rate of working
4.4 Kinetic energy
4.5 Potential energy
4.6 Potential energy: examples
4.7 Energy conservation

Section 5: Linear Momentum
The concept of the linear momentum of a system of particles is an extremely fruitful one in many areas of physics. In this section we develop the tools needed to describe the motion of such a system, and deduce that momentum must be conserved for an isolated system. This allows us to analyse elastic and inelastic collisions. We will also look at what happens to our view of mass, momentum and energy for objects moving at very high speeds.
5.1 Preview
5.2 Systems of particles
5.3 Motion of the centre of mass
5.4 Linear momentum
5.5 Linear momentum and its conservation
5.6 Collisions
5.7 Relativity: Mass, Momentum and Energy

Section 6: Angular Momentum
In this section we develop concise methods of describing rotational motion using quantities such as angular velocity, angular momentum and moment of inertia, the rotational analogues of velocity, momentum and mass. Using this new language, we can describe such counterintuitive phenomena as the behaviour of spinning tops and gyroscopes, and find out why it is easier to ride a bicycle with bigger wheels.
6.1 Linear and rotational motion
6.2 Angular positions, velocities and accelerations
6.3 Relations between angular and linear quantities
6.4 Constant acceleration equations
6.5 Kinetic energy of a rotating body: moment of inertia
6.6 Torque
6.7 Angular momentum
6.8 Angular momentum conservation

Section 7: Oscillations
Understanding and exploiting oscillations is central to many aspects of science including physics, chemistry, biology and engineering. In this section we will set out the key concepts, and explore them in the context of a wide range of examples. We shall end up in chaos.
7.1 Introduction: what and why
7.2 Simple Harmonic Motion: the physical context
7.3 The SHM equation: a general tour
7.4 The SHM equation: applications
7.5 Energy conservation in SHM
7.6 Driving and damping
7.7 Chaos
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements SCE Higher Grade Physics and Mathematics (at Grade A) or equivalent.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2014/15, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  311
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 30, Online Activities 11, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Summative Assessment Hours 15, Revision Session Hours 6, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 98 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 70 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework, 30%
Degree Examination, 70%
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Physics 1A: Foundations2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)Physics 1A: Foundations2:00
Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, it is intended that a student will be able to:

1)understand and employ the concepts of order of magnitude and significant figures in solving numerical problems
2)be able to use and manipulate vectors to describe physical quantities, such as motion in one or two dimensions, torque etc.
3)know and be able to apply the equations describing motion at constant acceleration and motion in a circle at constant speed
4)state the Galilean description of relative motion and be aware of its limitations
5)understand the roles played by force, mass and inertial reference frames in the laws of motion
6)be familiar with a wide variety of the forces encountered in nature
7)apply Newton's Laws to analyse the behaviour of systems experiencing such forces
8)qualitatively understand the ficticious forces experienced in non-inertial reference frames
9)state the definitions of work, kinetic energy and potential energy
10)explain why a potential energy can only be defined for a conservative force
11)use the principle of conservation of energy to solve simple problems
12)understand the concept of the centre of mass, its velocity and momentum for a system of particles
13)state conditions under which linear and angular momentum is conserved
14)analyse different types of collisions using appropriate conservation laws
15)know the analogies between variables describing linear and rotational motion
16)understand the concepts of angular velocity and torque
17)construct the simple harmonic equation of motion for a range of systems and determine the associated frequency
18)be familiar with the mathematical description of sinusoidal waveforms and the variety of phenomena occurring when different waveforms are combined
Reading List
'Principle of Physics' (Extended International Edition; 10th Edition, authors: Halliday, Resnick and Walker, publisher: Wiley,
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Problem solving, group working, communication (written and verbal), time and resource management, gathering and organising information, creativity.
Additional Class Delivery Information Workshop sessions three hours per week, as arranged.
Course organiserDr Ross Galloway
Course secretaryMs Rebecca Thomas
Tel: (0131 6)50 7218
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