Module Catalogue 2016/17

SFY0015 : Foundation Physics A

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jerry Hagon
  • Lecturer: Dr Adrian Oila, Dr Toni Carruthers
  • Owning School: Mechanical & Systems Engineering
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment

GCSE Science and Mathematics at Grade C or above.

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment

SFY0001 Basic Mathematics if below Grade C in GCSE Mathematics


To introduce the basic aspects of forces, fields, optics, atomic and nuclear physics are introduced without a requirement for A level physics. The module includes a practical work element.

Outline Of Syllabus

Forces and Fields

Introduction: units, dimensions, scalar and vector quantities, velocity, acceleration.

Forces: momentum, impulse, conservation of momentum, collisions. Newton’s laws. Gravitational and inertial mass.

Energy: work, energy, power, potential energy, conservation of energy.

Moments: centre of mass, centre of gravity.

Circular motion: angular velocity and acceleration, centripetal and centrifugal forces. Rotation about centre of mass, moment of inertia, angular momentum.

Fields: gravitational fields, potential and potential energy in fields. Inverse square law.

Structure of the atom

Atomic physics: Rutherford scattering experiment. The wave/particle nature of light. The photo-electric effect.
The photon and atomic structure. The Bohr model of the hydrogen atom. The spectrum of atomic hydrogen.
Multi-electron atoms. The Periodic Table. X-rays. X-ray production. Spectra. Absorption. Applications

Nuclear Physics: Atomic number, atomic weight, isotopes. Stability of nuclei.

Natural radioactivity: alpha, beta and gamma radiation. Sources of radiation. Half-life. Equation of radioactive decay.

Optical Physics

Introduction: the electromagnetic spectrum, colour, black-body radiation, polarization, waves rays and photons.

Reflection and refraction at plane surfaces: law of reflection, Snell’s law, refractive index, critical angle, total internal reflection, optical fibres, prisms, dispersion, spectroscopic instruments.

Reflection/refraction at curved surfaces: imaging with spherical mirrors and thin lenses, magnification, determination of focal length. Ray tracing. Use of the formula 1/u + 1/v = 1/f with sign convention. Combination of thin lenses.

Optical Instruments: camera, the eye, the telescope, the microscope, effect of lens aberrations and diffraction on performance

Experimental Physics

Experimental physics is introduced, providing practice in the basic skills in scientific measurement and a background to the theoretical concepts taught in the module.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of this module students will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the elementary physics associated with:

•       the influence of forces on motion;
•       energy, and its conservation;
•       the concept of a field;
• reflection and refraction ,
• the dispersion of light,
• common optical instruments
•       the structure of the atom and the interaction of light with atoms;
•       the structure of the nucleus and its stability;
•       radioactivity and radioactive decay.

Intended Skill Outcomes

At the end of this module students will be able to communicate effectively the scientific content of the module contributes to the written communications skills of the student. The scientific problem solving element enhances general problem solving skills and initiative.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Numeracy : Assessed
    • Literacy : Assessed
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Present
  • Interaction
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture361:0036:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion118:0018:00Exam Revision
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:302:30Written Exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1121:30121:30N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
SFY0014Foundation Physics A2
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The subject material is highly knowledge based and requires lectures to disseminate the material. The problems-solving classes enhance knowledge and consolidate the students’ understanding of the material.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1501A75N/A
Exam Pairings
Module Code Module Title Semester Comment
SFY0014Foundation Physics A21N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M25N/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module is intended to provide a factual knowledge base. A formal written examination is most appropriate in this case. The assessment of laboratory work is most readily obtained through the written reports.

Resit examination is the same. Resit of laboratory work by special exercise.
Special arrangement may be required for Study Abroad Students.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

This module contains lecture material that is taught in common with the module SFY0014

Original Handbook text:
Basic aspects of forces, fields, optics, atomic and nuclear physics are introduced without a requirement for A level physics. The module includes practical work.

Note: The Module Catalogue now reflects module information relating to academic year 16/17. Please contact your School Office if you require module information for a previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.