BSc Physics with Theoretical Physics

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Vibrations & Waves

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHYS10302
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


Vibrations & Waves


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Mathematics 1 PHYS10071 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


To explore the detailed behaviour of vibrating systems and wave motion in many different physical systems.


Learning outcomes

On completion successful students will be able to:

  1. describe and quantitively analyse the behaviour of oscillating systems and wave motion.
  2.  apply the mathematical formalism that describes them.
  3. recognise examples of oscillating systems and wave motion across many areas of physics


  1. Simple harmonic motion (SHM):  Energy in a vibrating system.
  2. Damped SHM, Q values and power response curves.
  3. Forced SHM, resonance and transients.
  4. Coupled SHM. Normal modes.
  5. Waves. The 1-D wave equation.
  6. Waves at interfaces. Wave energy and power. Standing Waves.
  7. The wave equation in 2-D and 3-D. Superposition.
  8. Phase and group velocity. Beats. Dispersion.
  9. Intereference and diffraction.
  10. The Schrodinger equation: finite wells, potential steps and barriers. Tunnelling. 

Examples of vibrating systems and waves will be given in the lectures and on the problem sheets.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written exam 90%

* 10% Tutorial Work/attendance 

Feedback methods

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

Recommended reading

Printed summaries will be downloadable. 

King G.C., Vibrations and Waves (Manchester Physics Series, Wiley, 2009)


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 24
Tutorials 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 68.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Anne Juel Unit coordinator

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