PHYC30020 Classical Mechanics and Relativity

Academic Year 2021/2022

The first part of this module covers non-relativistic classical
mechanics with applications: generalised coordinates, degrees of
freedom, Lagrangian formulation and Lagrange's equations of motion,
Hamilton's principle and Hamilton's equation of motion, central force
motion, continuous systems and fields. The second part of this module
covers special relativity with applications in particle and
astrophysics: Michelson-Morley experiment, Einstein's postulates,
Lorentz transformations, time dilation and length contraction,
relativity of simultaneity, four-vector formalism, relativistic
energy-momentum-mass relationship, relativistic imaging.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the module, students should have acquired a good
understanding of the foundations of classical mechanics and special
relativity and their applications. The students should be able to
analyse, understand and describe physical experiments in this area,
and be able to apply this knowledge to solve problems.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module comprises 36 hours of lectures, with 5 homework assignments followed by 5 problem classes, and a final exam. The theoretical underpinnings of the Lagrangian formulation of classical mechanics are presented, first showing equivalence to the Newtonian formulation, and then building up to sophisticated examples while making connections to other areas of physics. Special relativity is derived from scratch, motivated by experimental findings pointing to the failure of Newtonian mechanics. It is then elaborated systematically and combined with Lagrangian mechanics from the first part of the course. Principles are underlined by several relevant examples. Homework consolidates learning and prepares for the exam. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Homework Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Examination: Written examination 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback is given on homework assignments, which are fully graded, and a problem class on each assignment is given 1-2 weeks after submission. This prepares students for the final examination. Individual feedback can be provided to students directly from the lecturer if sought.

Name Role
Patrick Wong Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Tues 11:00 - 11:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Wed 09:00 - 10:50