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

Undergraduate Course: Mathematics for Physics 1 (PHYS08035)

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 course is designed for pre-honours physics students, primarily to develop their mathematical and problem solving skills in the context of basic algebra and calculus. A key element in understanding physics is the ability to apply elementary mathematics effectively in physical applications. For this, knowledge of mathematics is not enough, one also needs a deep understanding of the underlying concepts and practice in applying them to solve problems. The course is centred on problem solving workshops, and supported by lectures.
Course description The course content is divided into six sections, each with a dedicated workbook of worked examples and exercises:
1. Solving equations and simplifying the answer: Linear and quadratic equations; arithmetic with complex numbers; expansion and factorisation; combining and decomposing fractions.
2. Functions: Definition of a function and inverse; even-odd symmetries; trigonometric functions, their inverses and reciprocals; exponential and logarithm; modulus and argument of complex numbers; Euler's formula; hyperbolic functions; trigonometric and hyperbolic identities; roots of a polynomial in the complex plane; singularities.
3. Lines and regions in the plane: equation of a straight line; conic sections; graphical representation of modulus function and polynomials; graphical representation of products and ratios of functions; algebraic and graphical representation of scaling and translation operations; relationship between regions and inequalities.
4. Differentiation. First-principles definition of a derivative and application to elementary functions; higher derivatives; product rule; chain rule; differentiating an inverse; tangent and normal to a curve; stationary points; preview of differential equations and partial derivatives.
5. Power series expansions. Power series as an approximation to a complicated function; Maclaurin and Taylor series expansion of elementary functions; ratio test for convergence; sums, products and ratios of power series; L'Hopital's rule for evaluating limits.
6. Integration. Definite and indefinite integrals. Improper integrals. Infinite range of integration. Integration by substitution and by parts. Common substitutions and other integration strategies.
Key concepts will be outlined in lectures. Students can get assistance in working through the workbooks at workshops, and a second set of workshops will be devoted to learning how to solve longer and more complex problems in groups.

Please note: this course is not available to students on School of Maths programmes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Co-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students also take Physics 1A: Foundations (PHYS08016)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
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 18, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 40, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Formative Assessment Hours 12, Summative Assessment Hours 5, Revision Session Hours 6, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 112 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 80 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 20% coursework
80% examination
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Mathematics for Physics 1 S1 Exam3:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)Mathematics for Physics 1 Resit Exam3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate awareness of foundational concepts in algebra and calculus and how these apply to physical problems
  2. Select an appropriate method for solving a problem, and execute it methodically
  3. Identify and apply a variety of strategies to check a solution is correct without referring to a given answer
  4. Locate and use additional sources of information (to include discussion with peers and use of computer algebra packages where appropriate) to facilitate independent problem-solving
  5. Take responsibility for learning by attending lectures and workshops, completing coursework in a timely manner, and working effectively in a collaborative group setting
Reading List
Recommended textbook:

K. F. Riley, M. P. Hobson and S. J. Bence. Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering: A Comprehensive Guide (Cambridge University Press).


K. F. Riley and M. P. Hobson. Foundation Mathematics for the Physical Sciences (Cambridge University Press, 2011). [Cheaper, cut down version of the recommended text covering the most essential material]

M. L. Boas. Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences (Wiley, 2006). [Covers the same content as the recommended text in a style that some students may prefer]
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 2 lectures and 2 out of 4 workshops.
Course organiserDr Aidan Brown
Tel: (0131 6)50 5229
Course secretaryMs Alexis Heeren
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