KC4017 - Particles, Waves and the Big Bang

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What will I learn on this module?

The module will introduce you to some of the key ideas of contemporary physics and to show how these ideas came about. After introducing the concept of (i) particle-wave duality, you will be introduced to (ii) oscillatory phenomena and wave motion, and to the fundamentals of the (iii) standard model of particle physics and the origin of particles during the formation of the universe.

Outline Syllabus (note this is indicative rather than prescriptive):

Wave-particle duality
Electromagnetic spectrum, black body radiation and the photoelectric effect.

Standard Model and the Big Bang
A qualitative introduction to the standard model of particle physics. An introduction to Feynman diagrams. Basic constituents of matter, such as quarks and leptons, their fundamental properties and interactions, and their origin at the creation of the universe. Introductory Cosmology. Microwave Background Radiation. Star formation. Types of stars. Stellar classification.

Waves and Oscillations
Free, damped and forced vibrations, resonance, coupled oscillators; the nature of travelling waves and transport of energy; types of waves including sound, water waves and light; interference, beats and standing waves; dispersion; simple diffraction phenomena.

Geometrical Optics
Phenomena in geometrical optics, interference and diffraction and their practical applications. Properties of optical systems. The dependence of geometrical optics on wave theory.

How will I learn on this module?

The learning strategy of this module is based on a combination of lectures and problem-solving/exercise classes. Lectures will give you a formal introduction to theoretical aspects of while the exercise classes will allow you to deepen this knowledge by applying the theory to explicit problems. The module will offer opportunities to expose you to a variety of open problems in physics, triggering your curiosity towards big challenges in physics, and explaining the relevance of fundamental concepts in a research context. Technology enhanced learning is promoted through the Perimeter Exploration series of multimedia, for example, covering Young’s double slit experiment.

Assessment is by two exams, each worth 50% of the total module marks. The first exam will provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of aspects of the particle-wave duality and the basics of the standard model of particle physics. The second exam will cover predominantly oscillatory phenomena and wave motion. Both exams will assess your problem solving abilities when applied to new and unseen problems.

Exam feedback will be provided individually and also generically to indicate where you and your peers have a stronger or weaker answer to examination questions. You will receive both written and oral feedback from the in-class test and formative feedback throughout the course, in particular during problem-solving/exercise classes.

You will also be regularly referred to supporting resources including relevant texts and relevant multimedia materials. Independent study is supported by further technology-enhanced resources provided via the e-learning portal, including short videos, lecture notes, e-hand outs, sample problems and past-paper questions.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Lectures and problem-solving/exercise classes will be the main point of academic contact, offering you with a formal teaching environment for core learning. Problem-solving/exercise classes will provide students with opportunities for critical enquiry and exchanges.

Outside formal scheduled teaching, students will be able to contact the module team (module tutor, year tutor, programme leader) either via email or the open door policy operated throughout the programme.

Further academic support will be provided through technology-enhanced resources via the e-learning portal. Students will have the opportunity to give their feedback formally through periodic staff-student committees and directly to the module tutor at the end of each semester.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. Discuss the particle-wave duality in qualitative terms
2. Discuss the Standard Model of particle physics in qualitative terms
3. Describe wave motion using mathematical methods
4. Explain important wave phenomena including diffraction, refraction and interference

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
5. Apply mathematical methods to solve physical problems

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
6. Be aware of (some of) the challenges in modern physics

How will I be assessed?

1. In-class test (50%) – 1, 2, 5, 6
2. Exam (50%) – 3, 4, 5, 6

1. Weekly problems – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Feedback will take several forms including: individual verbal and written comments on the test delivered in class and via blackboard; verbal feedback during the exercise classes; written feedback on the exam.





Module abstract

1. In-class test (50%) – 1, 2, 5, 6
2. Exam (50%) – 3, 4, 5, 6

1. Weekly problems – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Feedback will take several forms including: individual verbal and written comments on the test delivered in class and via blackboard; verbal feedback during the exercise classes; written feedback on the exam.

Course info

UCAS Code F3F5

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering

Location Ellison Building, Newcastle City Campus

City Newcastle

Start September 2019

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