Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

BSc Physics with Theoretical Physics / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:

Unit code PHYS10101
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Physics & Astronomy
Available as a free choice unit? No




To introduce the fundamental concepts of Newtonian mechanics.

Learning outcomes

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates

On completion successful students will be able to explain the role of, and solve problems involving, the following concepts: 

1. frame of reference and its associated coordinate systems. 

2. Newton's laws and the motion of simple systems. 

3. energy, work, power, momentum, force, impulse, angular velocity, angular acceleration and torque. 

4. conservation of energy, momentum, and angular momentum. 

Furthermore, they will be able to solve problems involving: 

5. the rotation of rigid bodies. 

6. motion in a gravitational field.




1.  Linear Dynamics I

Differentiation of vectors, velocity and acceleration.

Inertial frames and Newton I.


2.  Linear Dynamics II

Newton II.

Equations of motion.



Action at a distance.


3.  Linear Dynamics III

Momentum conservation and Newton III.

Applications of Newtonian mechanics.


4.  Linear Dynamics IV

Conservation principles in physics.

Kinetic energy and work.

Potential energy.

Conservative forces.


5.  Rotational Motion I

Torque, vector product, rotation of coordinate axes and angular momentum.

Polar coordinates.


6.  Conservation laws and isolated systems

Conservation of linear momentum.

Internal forces for a collection of particles.

Centre of mass.


7.  Angular momentum

Angular momentum and Newton II.

Conservation of angular momentum.


8.  Rotational motion II

Equation of motion; kinetic energy, angular momentum, moments of inertia, gyroscopes and precession.


9.  Gravitation

Newton’s Law of Gravitation

Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion

Gravitational Potential Energy

Escape velocity


Spherical mass distributions

Tidal forces

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written exam 80%
Oral assessment/presentation 10%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be offered by tutors on students’ written solutions to weekly examples sheets, and model answers will be issued.

Recommended reading

Compulsory Text book

Young, H.D. & Freedman, R.A. University Physics (Addison-Wesley)


Recommended texts

Forshaw, J.R. & Smith, A.G. Dynamics & Relativity (Wiley)

French, A.P. Newtonian Mechanics (Norton)

Halliday, D., Resnick, R. & Walker, J. Fundamentals of Physics (Wiley)

Kleppner, D. & Kolenkow, R. An Introduction to Mechanics (McGraw-Hill)

Tipler, P.A., Physics for Scientists and Engineers (W.H. Freeman and company)


Supplementary maths text

Tinker, M. & Lambourne, R. Further Mathematics for the Physical Sciences (Wiley)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Practical classes & workshops 11
Tutorials 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 59.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Niels Walet Unit coordinator
Justin Evans Unit coordinator

Return to course details