KC4017 - Particles, Waves and the Big Bang

What will I learn on this module?

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

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.

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.

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 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 use of various multimedia in lectures and guided learning, for example, the Perimeter Institute’s Exploration Series covering Young’s double slit experiment.

Assessment is by one in-class test (30%) and one exam (70%). The in-class test will provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of aspects of oscillatory phenomena and wave motion. The exam will cover predominantly wave-particle duality and the basics of the standard model of particle physics. Both will assess your problem solving abilities when applied to new and unseen problems.

In-class test 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.

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

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 (30%) – 1, 2, 5, 6
2. Exam (70%) – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

1. Weekly seminar 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

This module will introduce many key topics in classical and modern physics. The first part of the module examines the classical physics of: (i) oscillatory phenomena and wave motion, physics that underlies many diverse topics such as earthquake protection systems in skyscrapers to the production of sounds in musical instruments. After, the module introduces classical optics including the description of light in (ii) geometric optics and wave optics, and applications in optical systems such as telescopes.
The second part of the module will introduce some of the key ideas of contemporary physics and show how these ideas came about. After introducing the concept of (iii) particle-wave duality, the module discusses the fundamentals of the standard model of particle physics (iv). In (iv), foundational astrophysics will also be covered, including the Big Bang and the origin of particles during the formation of the universe, alongside many key concepts in theoretical and observational astrophysics.

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 City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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