Not currently offered

Credit points: 15

Subject outline

On completion of this subject, students will be able to solve problems in modern physics which provide a basis for further study in physics, engineering or another science. They will use the essential apparatus in a physics laboratory to take and analyse measurements, and understand the vocabulary and concepts of modern physics. Two key areas of modern physics, special relativity and quantum mechanics, are explored. Special relativity involves Einstein's postulates regarding simultaneity, mass-energy equivalence, causality, and electromagnetism. Quantum mechanics involves quantisation, wave-particle duality, expectation values and operators, quantisation of angular momentum and spin. Students will conduct three experimental investigations related to these topics. Students are also provided with a simple research problem solvable by computational methods, and are expected to solve it individually, in consultation with a staff demonstrator.

SchoolSchool of Molecular Sciences/LIMS

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorChanh Tran

Available to Study Abroad StudentsYes

Subject year levelYear Level 5 - Masters

Exchange StudentsYes

Subject particulars

Subject rules

Prerequisites Approval from the Department of Physics adviser of studies.


Incompatible subjects PHY2SCA, PHY20SCI, PHY21SCA, PHY2MOD

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Special conditionsN/A


Resource TypeTitleResource RequirementAuthor and YearPublisher
ReadingsModern Physics (4th Edition)PrescribedTipler, P.A. & Llewellyn, R.A.W.H. FREEMAN & CO., NEW YORK, ISBN-10: 0716743450, 2002

Graduate capabilities & intended learning outcomes

01. Diagrammatically represent, analyse and / or solve conceptual and mathematical problems related to modern physics.

Students are assessed via two assignments, submitted via the LMS. In these assignments, students generate answers of around 5 handwritten pages in length to conceptual and mathematical questions. Students sit a final end of semester exam comprising short answer questions to problems.

02. Use accurate terminology and appropriate units to describe physical phenomena related to modern physics.

Students are required to use appropriate terminology and units in all assessment elements (namely assignments, laboratory reports and exam).

03. Perform experiments related to modern physics using standard physics laboratory techniques, equipment and software and assess the data to check for inappropriate, irrelevant or spurious results.

Students complete three extended laboratory experiments of nine hours duration each, and submit a report that indicates their ability to detail and assess experimental data. Students follow written and verbal laboratory instructions to conduct the experiments accurately and safely.

04. Explain and interpret laboratory results in the context of modern physics.

Students submit three laboratory reports detailing their interpretation of the results. The laboratory report mark contains a writing component. Students conduct an oral interview with a laboratory demonstrator at the completion of each experiment where their understanding of the underlying physics concepts, experimental approaches, data and error analysis, and maturity in diagnosing and solving problems are assessed. Students give an oral presentation about one of the first two experiments they have conducted where they explain and interpret their results to a peer group and the lecturer.

05. Collaborate, in pairs, to complete laboratory experiments and prepare and deliver the oral component of laboratory assessment. Ethically distinguish between collaborative and individual work.

The relative participation of each student in completing the experiment and in the preparation and execution of the oral component of the laboratory assessment are assessed. It is repeatedly stressed via the subject materials and orally that students in the group are expected to contribute equally to these activities. Students are expected to submit their own work (laboratory reports). If they fail to do so, they are counselled after the first occasion by the demonstrator. For subsequent plagiarism, no marks are awarded and they are interviewed by the subject coordinator.

06. Describe the recent developments in the fields of modern physics and identify areas which constitute interesting research problems. Apply research principles and methods applicable to the field of modern physics.

Students are provided with a simple research problem solvable by computational methods, and are expected to solve it individually, in consultation with demonstrators. The approach and results are summarised in a written report, which includes a proposal for extending the project by further work on a related interesting research problem.

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