Module – Waves and Optics

FHEQ Level: Level 5 (Second Year)
Credits: 20
Module Code: F300 20044
Course Reference Number (CRN): 59412
Delivery: September Start, Trimesters 1 & 2 (Long Thin)

Syllabus Outline

• Free, damped, driven oscillators and resonance
• Coupled oscillators and normal modes
• Waves and the wave equation
• Waves on strings, acoustic waves and electromagnetic waves
• Superposition, beats and wavepackets
• Double slit interference
• The Doppler effect
• Dispersion and group velocity
• Diffraction, interference and coherence
• Fourier transforms and convolutions
• Fourier optics. Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction
• Single and double slits, gratings, multiple apertures; interferometers and applications


Coursework: Assignment, 50%
Written: Examination, 2 hours, 50%
More detailed information may be found in the Assessments section.


Oscillations and Waves: An Introduction, First Edition (2013) or Second Edition, Richard Fitzpatrick, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis

Optics, E.Hecht (2016) Pearson.

Further updates and supplementary texts may be found in the University Reading Lists system.


You will learn about principles of wave motion applied to mechanical, sound and electromagnetic waves. Wave interference will be introduced leading to an understanding of diffraction in optical systems and applications. Underlying mathematical techniques including partial differential equations, Fourier transforms and convolutions will be introduced. The module is taught by a combination of lectures and problem solving tutorials.


1. To develop a knowledge and critical understanding in the area of Waves and Optics including the origin and limitations of the associated laws.
2. To develop a knowledge and critical understanding of mathematical techniques associated with Waves and Optics.
3. To develop analytical, numerical and computer based problem solving skills in the area of Waves and Optics.

Knowledge & Understanding

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the laws and their origins in the area of Waves and Optics.
2. Demonstrate competence in the specification of problems using the laws of Waves and Optics and their analytical and numerical solution.
3. Demonstrate communication through written material.

Learning, Teaching and Assessment

The module is taught through a combination of lectures and tutorial classes.

Interactive tutorial classes will prepare students for assessments through a series of problem solving exercises with associated formative feedback.

Assignment – An extended problem solving exercise requiring a description and justification of methodology used together with the use of analytical and computational means to provide final solutions and a critical evaluation of the solution obtained.

Exam – A series of questions demonstrating an understanding of the topic together with application to straightforward problems that can be solved using analytical means.