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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHYS1280 Vibrations and Thermal Physics (Joint Honours)

20 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Alison Voice

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

A level Physics and Maths or equivalent

This module is mutually exclusive with

PHYS1210Physics 2- Properties of Matter
PHYS1250Vibrations and Waves (Geophysics)

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Vibrations and waves are ubiquitous phenomena, occurring in widely different physical systems, from molecules to musical instruments to tectonic plates. Nevertheless, they can be described by a common mathematical approach.Thermodynamics is a fundamental branch of physics with applications as diverse as astrophysics, condensed matter, biophysics and climate change. The module will cover macroscopic effects of heat flow which can be explained by behaviour at the molecular level.


Learning outcomes
Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge, understanding and application of the following:
In Vibrations and Waves
1. Damped and Driven harmonic oscillators
2. Travelling waves, impedance and sound
3. Diffraction and Interference (including Fourier Transforms)
4. Laws of Reflection and Refraction (Geometrical optics)

In Thermodynamics:
1. Heat transfer mechanisms
2. Ideal gas behaviour, P,V,T
3. Real gases and simple phase diagrams
4. 1st law and 2nd law

Skills outcomes
Understanding, explanation, derivation and problem solving in vibrations, waves, and thermodynamics.


Vibrations and Waves:
Oscillators: Simple, damped, driven, coupled.
Travelling and standing waves; wave equation.
Waves on strings, sounds waves, Doppler Effect.
Wave nature of light; interference, diffraction, reflection, refraction.
Mirrors, lenses, optical cavities.
0th, 1st, 2nd laws of Thermodynamics
Conduction, convection, radiation; expansion.
Kinetic theory, ideal gases, Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution, equipartition.
Real gases, van der Waals equation, phase changes.
PV diagrams, entropy.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours151.00
Total Contact hours49.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Reading through lecture notes and solving problems.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Marked problem sheets

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
In-course AssessmentRegular Coursework20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)20.00

Resists will be in standard exam format.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 15 mins80.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)80.00

Students will have to complete an in-person exam at the end of the module. This will take place during the examinations period at the end of the semester and will be time bound.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:55:12


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