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

Undergraduate Course: Physics of Fields and Matter (PHYS08046)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Physics and Astronomy CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is designed for pre-honours physics students. It provides an introduction to electromagnetic fields and the properties of matter. It serves both as a preparation for further study in physics-based degree programmes, and as a standalone course for students of other disciplines, including mathematics, chemistry, geosciences, computer science and engineering. The course consists of lectures to present new material, and workshops to develop understanding, familiarity and fluency.
Course description Physics of Fields (22 lectures)

- Introduction and why electromagnetism is important.
- Electric charge, Coulomb's Law.
- Electric field from charges, dipoles and charge distributions.
- Gauss's Law in integral form.
- Electrostatic potential from point charges and charge distributions and link to work.
- Capacitors, dielectric materials, energy stored in electric fields.
- Current, resistance, RC circuits.
- Magnetic field, Lorentz force on charges and current, magnetic moment and torque on current loops.
- Ampere's Law in integral form, magnetic field in solenoids and toroids.
- Induction, magnetic flux, Faraday's Law, Lenz's Law.
- Inductance, current in inductors, RL circuits, energy in magnetic field.
- Magnetic materials. Dia/Para/Ferro-magnetism. The Earth's magnetic field.
- Maxwell's equations in integral form and discussion of physical implications.

Physics of Matter (22 lectures)

- Basic concepts. Phases; equation of state; P-V-T surface and projections,
- Elementary thermal physics. Origin of phase transitions; basic thermodynamics: equilibrium (0th law); contributions to the internal energy (1st law), heat capacities and latent heat; brief mention of free energy; entropy and its statistical interpretation (2nd law),
- Ideal gases. Kinetic theory; Maxwell-Boltzmann velocity distributions; sedimentation/barometric height distribution; degrees of freedom and equipartition theorem,
- Non-ideal gases. Lennard-Jones type interaction; van der Waals approach; instability in PV isotherms; appearance of the liquid below Tc; phase coexistence and critical phenomena,
- Liquid phase. Radial distribution function; vapour pressure; surface tension,
- Flow and transport phenomena. Bernoulli's equation; viscosity; Reynolds number
- Crystalline phase. Bonding types; types of order; unit cells and basis; symmetry; centring; Miller indices; crystal planes, Bragg's law; scattering of electrons, neutrons and x-rays.
- Electronic properties. Metals, semiconductors, insulators.
- Elasticity, plasticity, and fracture. Young's modulus; sound waves; bulk modulus; shear stress and dislocations; cracking.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Physics 1A: Foundations (PHYS08016) AND Modern Physics (PHYS08045)) OR ( Modern Physics (PHYS08045) AND Physics and Mathematics for Direct Entry (PHYS08057))
Students MUST have passed:
Co-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students also take Dynamics and Vector Calculus (PHYS08043)
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Physics of Matter (PHYS08054) OR Introductory Fields and Waves (PHYS08053)
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 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 44, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Summative Assessment Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 131 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 80 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 20% Coursework 80% Examination
To pass course it is required to obtain a weighted average of 40% AND to obtain 40% in the examination.
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)3:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. State the basic principles of electromagnetism and materials physics, and apply these principles in conjunction with elementary mathematical techniques to solve simple problems in electromagnetism and matter physics.
  2. Present a solution to a physics problem in a clear and logical written form and assess whether a solution to a given problem is physically reasonable
  3. Locate and use additional sources of information (to include discussion with peers where appropriate) to facilitate independent problem-solving and take responsibility for learning by attending lectures and workshops, and completing coursework
Reading List
Physics of Fields section:
Principles of Physics (Extended International Edition; 10th Edition, authors: Halliday, Resnick and Walker, publisher: Wiley,

Physics of Matter section:
Blundell & Blundell, "Concepts of Thermal Physics", Oxford
D Tabor, "Gases, Liquids and Solids", Cambridge University Press, 1991.
AJ Walton, "Three Phases of Matter", Oxford, 1983
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 4 lectures per week and 1 out of 3 workshops.
Course organiserDr Ross Galloway
Course secretaryMr Kieran Brodie
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