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PH1012   Physics 1B

Academic year(s): 2019-2020

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 20

ECTS credits : 10

Level : SCQF Level 7

Semester: 2

Planned timetable: 12.00 noon lectures; One afternoon from up to five per week, 2.00 pm - 3.00 pm tutorial, 3.00 pm - 5.30 pm lab

This module covers an introduction to quantum mechanics, the mechanics of rotation and gravity and an introduction to lasers. The module is suitable for those who have studied physics to the level of Higher Physics or equivalent. It includes lectures on the origins of quantum theory, its application to atoms and other small-scale systems; the principles of lasers, and some aspects of optical communication. The module also includes a set of group-based activities associated with the use of physics ideas to solve an interesting problem. Relevant laboratory work is an important part of the module.

Relationship to other modules

Pre-requisite(s): Before taking this module you must pass PH1011

Anti-requisite(s): You cannot take this module if you take AS1002

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: Typically 4 lectures, 1 workshop, 1 tutorial and 1 x 2.5 hr laboratory. Group Discovery Project replaces some lectures for part of the semester.

Scheduled learning hours: 82

Guided independent study hours: 118

Assessment pattern

As used by St Andrews: 2-hour Written Examination = 50%, Class Test = 10%, Laboratory work = 25%, Group Discovery Project = 15%

As defined by QAA
Written examinations : 60%
Practical examinations : 0%
Coursework: 40%

Re-assessment: 2-hour Written Resit Examination = 50%, combined with existing Laboratory work = 25%, and existing Group Discovery Project = 15%, existing class test 10%


Module coordinator: Professor A Di Falco
Module teaching staff: Dr L Hadfield, Prof N Korolkova, Dr S Schulz, Dr A Rost, Dr C Rae

Additional information from school


The two first level modules in physics provide a balanced introduction to university physics, assuming a prior knowledge of mathematics and physics that corresponds to Higher grade passes in these subjects. The modules include appropriate coverage of the traditional disciplines of classical physics, but also exposure to the ideas of modern physics including quantum concepts, and to applications including laser physics and optical communications. It is intended that the two modules should be similar in standard to that of the Advanced Higher in Physics although the syllabi will not match in every detail.


Learning Outcomes

Students who take Physics 1A and/or Physics 1B should acquire


  • an understanding of the topics covered in the module
  • an ability to solve problems based on the lecture material
  • an increased interest in exploring and understanding the physical world
  • a competence in using some of the standard equipment in physics laboratories
  • an appreciation of uncertainty analysis in experimental work
  • an ability to model a real-world problem using physical concepts
  • experience of working in small groups to solve technical problems




Mechanics II

Circular motion: uniform circular motion, angular velocity, angular acceleration, centripetal acceleration, Newton’s laws of motion in angular form.

Newton’s universal law of gravity: Analysis of satellite orbits, escape velocity, gravitational potential energy.

Rigid Bodies: Centre of mass, torque.


Quantum Phenomena

Early quantum ideas: Photoelectric effect and Compton effect. Rutherford's and Bohr's models of the atom. Spectral lines, Rydberg constant.

Energy levels: Atomic spectra.

De-Broglie's matter waves: Diffraction of electrons, neutrons, etc. Wave function, probability and uncertainty. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

Schrödinger’s Equation: Introduction and examples of its applications.

Selected topics from modern quantum science: Quantum technologies and Bose-Einstein condensates.


Lasers and Optoelectronics

Introductory overview on lasers and their applications. Basic energy level structures for laser-related media. Einstein A, B coefficients, gain coefficient, laser threshold conditions. Laser oscillator and
amplifiers. Properties of laser radiation and important types of laser gain media. Some applications of lasers in science, engineering and medicine.


Group Discovery Project

In groups of typically five, students will explore a real-world problem applying and extending their knowledge of physics. Students will work self-guided in groups with introductory whole-class sessions and individual group facilitator sessions to review and aid their progress. At the end of the project, each group will give a brief presentation of their results to a panel and submit a written report.


Laboratory work (10 sessions)

Experimental Investigation: Quantum Phenomena (Charge to Mass Ratio of an electron and Photoelectric effect); Lasers (Laser Introduction); Investigative Science Learning Environment experience; Problem Based Learning labs.



Recommended Books

Please view University online record:


General Information

Please also read the additional information in the School's handbook for first and second level modules that is available via