PHS3201 - Classical dynamics and field theory - 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 Alexis Bishop


Professor Csaba Balazs

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (On-campus)


PHS2062 and;

one of: MTH2032 or MTH2040


This unit examines topics in Classical Dynamics and Classical Field Theory. The important mathematical framework, and the approach to describing physical systems developed in these fields of study, are applicable to much of modern physics, and provide an essential foundational basis for further studies in physics. The unit consists of two theory-only subunits, and the key areas of study are:

  1. Classical Dynamics: Elements of tensor calculus, the principle of extremal action, coordinate transformations, constraints and generalised coordinates. Noether's theorem, space-time and gauge symmetries. The Hamiltonian formalism, Liouville's theorem, Poisson's brackets. Canonical transformations, connection to quantum mechanics. Path integral formulation of quantum physics. Applications for classical point particles and non-relativistic fields.
  2. Classical field theory: Maxwell's equations, Electromagnetic waves in vacuum and matter, gauge transformations, fields of a moving point charge, dipole radiation, Lorentz transformations, relativistic electrodynamics, tensor notation, the field tensor, electrodynamics in tensor notation.


On completion of this unit you will be able to:

  1. Describe and perform calculations associated with fundamental concepts in classical mechanics.
  2. Describe concepts and perform calculations in field theory, with special application to electromagnetism.
  3. Solve new problems in physics related to the core concepts of the unit by drawing on the theoretical underpinnings that illustrate the physics.
  4. Apply numerical modelling to solve problems in classical dynamics and field theory;
  5. Demonstrate awareness of scientific computing methods and visualisation.
  6. Demonstrate an ability to work in teams and to communicate and discuss physics concepts.
  7. Approach new problems and find solutions on the basis of general principles, and evaluate the appropriateness of their proposed models or solutions.


Examination (3 hours and 10 minutes): 50%

In-semester assessment : 50%

Workload requirements

The workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours spread across the semester (approximately 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