Module code: PHY1036

Module provider


Module Leader

LOHSTROH A Dr (Physics)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 4

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 1

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 84

Lecture Hours: 33

Laboratory Hours: 20

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination 2 HOUR EXAMINATION 70%
Practical based assessment LABORATORY DIARY MARK 30%

Alternative Assessment

Assessed Laboratory experiments with associated report may replace the laboratory Unit of Assessment.

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

This module covers introductory concepts of simple harmonic motion and waves, drawing on and bringing together examples from different branches of physics including mechanics, optics, electronics, and electromagnetism. It combines the mathematical description, physical interpretation as well as experiments and their analysis of oscillations and wave phenomena to provide a well-balanced introduction to the important physical concepts that are required for further study in subsequent modules of a physics course.

Module aims

provide a solid base for the important concepts that re-occur in (almost) all areas of physics relating to harmonic oscillations and wave phenomena.

introduce the general mathematical description as well as to the common physical interpretation and consequences concerning speed, frequency, energy, velocities etc. 

applied and re-inforce concepts through many examples of oscillations and waves

develop confidence and familiarity in students with the theoretical description and analysis of harmonic oscillations and waves  as well as performing experiments of wave related phenomena, for example in the area of mechanical springs, diffraction, standing mechanical waves, AC circuits etc.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Analyze simple systems undergoing simple harmonic motion and be able to derive equations describing the motion and expressions for the oscillation frequency. KCP
Analyze simple AC circuits KCP
Derive the wave equation for the case e.g. waves on a string; KC
Analyze simple waveforms travelling along, e.g. string; CP
Undertake calculations of frequency shifts arising from Doppler effect; KCP
Be able to calculate interference and diffraction patterns arising from , e.g. multiple point sources of light and slits of finite width; KC
Demonstrate an understanding of the working of selected optical instruments; CP
Demonstrate an intuitive feel for fundamental and basic properties such as the speed, frequency and wavelength of light; and P
Be able to work with notations based on f and l and v and k  K

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

Fundamental description of oscillations and waves

Simple harmonic motion
Longitudinal and transversal wave motion
Frequency, angular frequency, wavelength, wave number, “speed”
The wave equation in one dimension
Superposition, beating, phase, group, particle velocities
Energy and Momentum 

Mechanical waves

Waves on a string, string boundaries and joins, standing waves.
Sound waves, Doppler effect

Waves in Optics

Huygens construction
Reflection, refraction, diffraction, refractive index
[Geometrical optics, lens formulae, magnification, telescope, microscope]
Optical fibres
Diffraction – single, double slit and grating diffraction 

Oscillations and Waves in AC circuits

Transients in circuits with Inductors and Capacitors
Time constants in circuits with L,C, R components
AC circuits: Impedance, frequency dependent response
Description of AC circuits using phase and phasors

Review of the course bringing out the unifying themes

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Describe what the module learning and teaching strategy is designed to achieve and how it relates to the programme learning and teaching strategy

The learning and teaching methods include:

33h of lectures, discussions, example classes and demonstrations as 3h/week x 11 weeks
20h of laboratory classes arranged as 5 half-day experiments


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

• during the laboratory components, tutorials and exam, that they have acquired a basic understanding and familiarity with waves in different context of Physics and that they can apply that knowledge in order to perform calculations predict experimental findings relating to wave phenomena.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

• a written examination of 2h duration (week 13 or 14) with a section of short compulsory questions, and a section of longer questions with a choice of 2 out of 3.

• Laboratory diary entries (on selected experiments)


Formative assessment and feedback

Students receive formative verbal feedback during laboratory session from Academics and Demonstrators.

They also have the opportunity to receive feedback on their ability to apply the topics covered during the oscillations and wave lectures through:

- Small group tutorial sessions

- Exercise sheets and model solutions made available through the Virtual Learning Environment

- Multiple Choice revision questions during the lecture sessions


Reading list

Reading list for OSCILLATIONS AND WAVES : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/phy1036

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.