PHYS205-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021

Waves, Optics and Mechanics

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 27 June 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 14 May 2021


In this course we study the physics of wave oscillations and their applications in numerous different physical systems. The geometric theory of image formation is developed and applied to various optical instruments. We will study interference and diffraction problems using Fourier techniques. Its use in optical instruments such as diffraction grating spectrometers, interferometers and lasers is highlighted. The course will also provide a review of 100 level mechanics material and then develop a deeper understanding of mechanics than addressed at 100-level, particularly the motion of rotating bodies and the application of these ideas to real-world systems such as the weather and orbits.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will:
  • Have acquired an understanding of the importance of wave phenomena in the physical world (exam assessment).
  • Have mastered the mathematical formalism used to describe oscillatory systems (exam and assignment assessment).
  • Be able to solve imaging problems in geometric optics (exam and assignment assessment).
  • Be able to apply Fourier techniques to solve diffraction problems in physical optics (exam and assignment assessment).
  • Be familiar with key modern developments in optics (exam assessment).
  • Have gained a thorough knowledge of the motion of orbits and rotating bodies and understand how to make use of rotating frames of reference to determine the motion of objects on the surface of the Earth (exam and assignment assessment).
  • Demonstrate competency to solve appropriate physics problems in the concepts of the course (exam and assignment assessment).
  • Demonstrate writing and associated communication skills (exam and assignment assessment).


(1) PHYS101; (2) MATH102 or EMTH118. These prerequisites may be replaced by a high level of achievement in level 3 NCEA Physics and Mathematics with Calculus or other background approved by the Head of Department. RP: (1) PHYS102; (2) MATH103 or EMTH119; (3) COSC131 or COSC121


PHYS201, PHYS202

Recommended Preparation

(1) PHYS102; (2) MATH103 or EMTH119; (3) COSC131 or COSC121.

Course Coordinator

Jon-Paul Wells


Jenni Adams


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Final Exam 50%
Homework 20% 10 homework assignments (best of 9) handed in every week.
Tutorial 5% Participation in a minimum of 10 tutorials is required.
Term One Test 12.5%
Term Two Test 12.5%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

C. Kittel e al.,; Mechanics ; McGraw-Hill.

E Hecht; Optics ; Addison-Wesley.

F Smith, T King, D Wilkins; Optics and Photonics ; John Wiley and Sons.

H.J. Pain; The Physics of Vibrations and Waves ; John Wiley & Sons.

I.G. Main; Vibration and Waves in Physics ; Cambridge University Press, New York.

R Serway, J Jewett; Physics for Scientists and Engineers wiht Modern Physics ; Thomson.

Additional Course Outline Information

Academic integrity

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $910.00

International fee $4,438.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 20 people apply to enrol.

For further information see School of Physical & Chemical Sciences .

All PHYS205 Occurrences

  • PHYS205-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021