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Last modified: 25 May 2018 11:16

Course Overview

Understanding oscillatory and wavelike behaviour is of huge importance in comprehending how our natural world works.  It seems that everything in nature has its own cycle, rhythm or oscillation.   From planets revolving around the sun to waves on the sea, even fundamental particles are treated as waves in modern physics.   Accessible to students with some knowledge of calculus, this course will explain the mathematics of this fascinating and important subject.  Methods of solving the differential equations that describe waves and oscillatory phenomena will be explored, including numerical techniques.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 2
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Alessandro Moura

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Programme Level 2

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

  • One of KL108W The Physical Universe A (Passed) or PX1014 The Physical Universe - 1 (Passed) or PX1015 The Physical Universe A (Passed) or PX1017 The Physical Universe a (Distance) (Passed) or MA Applied Mathematics (Studied) or BSc Applied Mathematics (Studied)
  • One of MA1002 Calculus a (4) (Passed) or MA1005 Calculus 1 (Passed) or MA1007 Introductory Mathematics 1 (Passed) or MA1507 Introductory Mathematics 2 (Passed) or MA1508 Calculus II (Passed)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • PX2014 Dynamical Phenomena (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course is an introduction to physical phenomena that depend on time, with emphasis on oscillatory and wavelike behaviour. The concept of a second order linear system will be used to unify the treatment of mechanical and electrical phenomena, and to introduce simple harmonic oscillators, damped oscillators and resonance. Wave motion will be used to introduce the ideas behind Fourier transforms. The Matlab software platform will be introduced as a means learning basic techniques of scientific programming, and of finding numerical solutions for differential equations.

Degree Programmes for which this Course is Prescribed

  • BSc Computing Science and Physics
  • BSc Geology - 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
  • Master of Physics with Complex Systems Modelling
  • Physics Joint
  • Physics Major
  • Physics Minor

Contact Teaching Time

33 hours

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

Teaching Breakdown


1st Attempt: 1 two-hour examination (75%) and in-course assessment (25%). A pass in this course requires a score of CAS 9 or higher in the in-course assessment.
Resit: 1 two-hour examination (75%) and in-course assessment (25%). A pass in this course requires a score of CAS 9 or higher in the in-course assessment.

Formative Assessment



Discussions of the solutions to problem sheets will happen in the tutorials throughout the course. Worked solutions of all problems will be posted online. Students will also have feedback on their computer tutorial assessments.

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