PHS1011 - Classical physics and relativity - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Physics and Astronomy

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Paul Lasky


Dr Paul Lasky

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (On-campus)


VCE Mathematical Methods (study score of 25 or above) and VCE Physics (study score of 25 or above) or VCE Specialist Mathematics (study score of 40 or above) or equivalent high school qualifications.

If you have a study score of 25 or above in VCE Physics but only took Further Mathematics, please contact the unit coordinator to discuss your options.


Recommended: MTH1020, MTH1030, MTH1035 or ENG1005

Note: supporting mathematics studies are required for progression towards the Astrophysics and Physics majors


PHS1001, PHS1002 PHS1080, PHS1031, BMS1031, ENG1081Not offered in 2019


In this unit, you will build on your knowledge of classical (non-quantum) physics related to concepts of motion, forces, momentum and energy; including their application to oscillations, waves and thermal physics. You will also investigate the limits of applicability of classical (non-relativistic) concepts of motion where the ideas of special relativity must be applied.

You will explore these concepts in the context of current technology in areas such as transportation and communication and you will also discover how these ideas link to current research in physics.

This unit will also introduce you to concepts of experimental design, measurement and analysis that form the basis of the evidence-based approach that is the foundation of scientific discoveries and theories.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Explain and understand concepts taught in the unit such as force, energy, work, and wave propagation;
  2. Apply their knowledge to solve problems related to these concepts;
  3. Evaluate and appraise novel situations in terms of mechanics, thermodynamics, waves and relativity;
  4. Execute experiments and analyse, interpret and evaluate the results arising from them;
  5. Present and communicate results of others and one's own experimentations in a scientific form.


Experimental work: 25% (Hurdle)

Tests/Assignments: 35%

Examination (3 hours): 40%

Hurdle requirement: Students must achieve a pass mark in the

experimental work to achieve an overall pass grade.

Workload requirements

The workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours spread across the semester (roughly 12 hours per week) - approximately an even mixture of attendance at scheduled activities and self-scheduled study time. Learning activities comprise a mixture of instructor directed, peer-directed and self-directed learning, which includes face-to-face and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Materials science