Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code PHYS103
Coordinator Dr DS Martin
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2021-22 Level 4 FHEQ Second Semester 15


To introduce the fundamental concepts and principles of wave phenomena. To highlight the many diverse areas of physics in which an understanding of waves is crucial. To introduce the concepts of interference and diffraction.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) At the end of the module, the should be able to:Demonstrate an understanding of oscillators.

(LO2) Understand the fundamental principles underlying wave phenomena.

(LO3) Apply those principles to diverse phenomena.

(LO4) Understand wave reflection and transmission, superposition of waves.

(LO5) Solve problems on the behaviour of electromagnetic waves in vacuo and in dielectric materials.

(LO6) Understand linear and circular polarisation.

(LO7) Understand inteference and diffraction effects.

(LO8) Understand lenses and optical instruments.

(LO9) Apply Fourier techniques and understand their link to diffraction patterns.

(LO10) Understand the basic principles of lasers

(S1) Problem solving



1. Oscillators Simple Harmonic Motion, Forced Oscillators, Damped Oscillators, Coupled Oscillators. Worked examples of SHM and oscillations. Related problems to be solved.
2. Fundamentals Wave Equation, Phase velocity, wavenumber, wavelength, frequency. Superposition (same wavelength), Reflection and Transmission at Boundaries, Standing Waves, Amplitude, Intensity, Energy. Reinforcement of concepts from this weeks lectures. Examples. Problems related to this weeks lectures.
3. Examples of Waves Longitudinal and Transverse Waves. Waves on strings. Sound Waves, Light waves. Waves in elastic media. The Doppler Effect. Impedance. Waves in Cables. Worked examples from this weeks lectures. Problems related to this weeks lecture material.  
4. Superposition of Waves (different wavelengths) Beats, wavepackets, Group Velocity, Bandwidth Theorem. Illustrative examples from this week's lectures. Problems related to this week's material.
5. Electromagnetic Wav es EM waves in free space. EM waves in dielectrics. Linear and Circular Polarisation. Quarter and Half waveplates. Additional material for EM waves and polarisation. Problems related thereto. Continuation of electromagnetic waves Reflection of EM waves. Brewster Angle.
6. Interference Effects Youngs slits. Thin film interference. Optical coatings. Filters. 12 Reinforcement of reflection of EM waves. Students carry out assignment related to Brewster Angle. 13
7. Diffraction Fraunhofer Diffraction. Single slit diffraction. Effect of single slit diffraction on double slit pattern. Multiple slit diffraction. Reinforcement of single slit diffraction pattern. Students calculate diffraction pattern arising from a double slit experiment. Continuation of Diffraction Diffraction at a circular aperture. Rayleigh criterion. Diffraction gratings. Phased Arrays. Interferometry. Background material for Rayleigh Criterion and illustrative applications. Problems related to this week's le ctures.
8. Optical Cavities Reflection, Refraction, Mirrors, Thin Lenses, Optical Instruments. Reinforcement of this week's lectures. Students do related problems.
9. Fourier Methods Fourier analysis, Fourier series. Examples. Worked examples of the use of Fourier series. Students attack related problems. Continuation of Fourier Methods Fourier Transforms. Link of FTs to diffraction patterns. Further reinforcement material related to Fourier Transforms. Students attempt related problems.
10. Lasers Principles and Applications. Students research uses of lasers.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching Method 1 - Lecture
Description: 12 x 2 hours of lectures.
Teaching Method 2 - Problem Based Learning
Description: 12 x 2 hours of problem classes.

The module will be delivered remotely in 2021. Asynchronous learning materials (notes/videos/exercises etc) will be made available to students through the VLE. The module will have regular synchronous sessions in active learning mode.
We are planning no changes to module content compared to previous years, and expect students to spend a similar amount of time-on-task compared to previous years. These changes will mainly constitute a rebalancing of hours from scheduled directed learning hours to unscheduled directed learning hours as students will have some flexibility as to when they access asynchronous materials.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours           24


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 102


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Online time-controlled Exam  2 hours    60       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Problems Classes Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is an anonymous assessment. Assessment Schedule (When) :2  3 x 2 hours    20       
Computing Based Programming Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is an anonymous assessment. Assessment Schedule (When) : throughout the course  10 x 2 hours    20       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.