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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, forces, and oscillations, 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 Higher 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 (but not limited to) mathematics, chemistry, computer science and engineering.
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 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 20, 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 108 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 80 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework, 20%
Degree Examination, 80%
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of introductory Newtonian mechanics.
  2. Solve problems in introductory Newtonian mechanics.
  3. Communicate physics ideas effectively through verbal, written, graphical and mathematical means.
  4. Demonstrate self-organised study skills.
  5. Demonstrate skills in dealing with real-world, contextualised physics problems.
Reading List
'Principles of Physics' (International Version); 10th Edition; authors: Walker, Halliday, Resnick; 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 two hours per week, as arranged.
Course organiserDr Ross Galloway
Course secretaryMrs Catherine MacMillan
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