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Last modified: 26 Feb 2018 17:44

Course Overview

Physics is the most fundamental of the sciences, and if we wish to better understand the nature and behaviour of the Universe, it is perhaps the best place to start. This course introduces the basic topics of Physics, from the sub-microscopic scale of electrons and atoms, to the orbits of the planets and stars, to the celestial mechanics of galaxies. It encompasses the work of Physicists like Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Jocelyn Bell Burnell. If you’ve ever been curious about how the world works, you will hopefully find this course, typically well-regarded by students, interesting.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 1
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Ross Macpherson
  • Professor Norval Strachan

Qualification Prerequisites

  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Mathematics A]
  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Physics B]
  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Physics B3]
  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Physics B4]
  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Mathematics A1]
  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Mathematics A2]
  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Mathematics B]
  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Mathematics B3]
  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Mathematics B4]
  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Physics A]
  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Physics A1]
  • [*Higher Grade (Sce/Sqa) Physics A2]
  • [$1][$2]

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • KL108W The Physical Universe A (Studied)
  • PX1013 Physics for Biological and Environmental Scientists (Studied)
  • PX1014 The Physical Universe - 1 (Studied)
  • PX1016 Understanding the Physical World (Studied)
  • PX1017 The Physical Universe a (Distance) (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The Physical Universe A is an introduction to some of the most fundamental areas in Physics and provides a foundation for later years of study. There will be lectures on kinematics and dynamics, covering the equations of motion and Newton's Three Laws; there's an introduction to Special Relativity, including the twin paradox; energy and power are covered, as well as considerations for generating electricity in the modern world; gravitation is studied in some depth, including the Law of Universal Gravitation, Kepler's laws governing the orbits of planets, and the behaviour of satellites; the course concludes with discussions of fluids, momentum and centres of mass.

The course objectives are:

  • To give an overview of some of the universal laws of physics;
  • To show how the concepts embodied in these laws form the basis of our understanding of nature and our application of science in selected fields.

Further Information & Notes

Two of the practicals are optical and as such they may be difficult to complete if the student is blind/partially sighted. However the practicals are carried out in groups of two (or occasionally three). Hence, in this instance the work would be carried out in a group of three so that the tasks can be shared appropriately.

Degree Programmes for which this Course is Prescribed

  • BSc Computing Science and Physics
  • BSc Mathematics-Physics
  • BSc Physical Sciences
  • BSc Physics
  • BSc Physics with Modern Languages
  • BSc Physics with Philosophy
  • Bachelor Of Science In Geophysics
  • MA Natural Philosophy
  • Physics Joint
  • Physics Major
  • Physics Minor

Contact Teaching Time

87 hours

This is the total time spent in lectures, tutorials and other class teaching.

Teaching Breakdown


1st Attempt: Final two-hour multiple choice exam (50%), completion of practical class notebook and laboratory reports (25%), tutorial sheets (12.5%), multiple choice tests during term (12.5%).

Resit: Final two-hour multiple choice exam (50%), completion of practical class notebook and laboratory reports (25%), tutorial sheets (12.5%), multiple choice tests during term (12.5%).

Formative Assessment

On-line software for solving Physics problems (eg Mastering Physics software or equivalent).


Tutorial sheets, term multiple choice exams and lab notebooks will be marked and returned within two weeks of submission. Mastering Physics software gives an immediate on-line feedback.

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