Graphical Methods for Physical Scientists - PH022

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn 3 15 (7.5) DR G Mountjoy checkmark-circle


Graphical methods are powerful, visual tools to illustrate relationships in theories, and in experimental quantities, pertaining to physical phenomena. They involve knowledge of, and visual representation of mathematical functions frequently encountered in the physical sciences. The topics covered are expected to include:
Graphs of functions including straight lines, quadratics, 1/x and 1/x2.
Parametric equations for curves, including use in modelling phenomena in physical sciences.
Coordinate geometry of lines and circles, including calculations with angles in radians.
Trigonometric functions (sine, cosine, tangent), and reciprocal and inverse trigonometric functions.
Formulae involving small angles, sums of angles, and products of trigonometric functions.
Solving trigonometric equations in the context of modelling phenomena in physical sciences.
Vectors in one, two and three dimensions, and notations for representing them.
Algebraic operations of vector addition and multiplication by scalars.
Use of vectors in modelling phenomena in physical sciences.


Contact hours

30 lectures, 5 workshops, 1 in course test. This module is expected to occupy 150 total study hours, including contact hours.


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Examination 70% and coursework 30% (comprising of five online maths quizzes 20%, one in course test 10%).

Indicative reading

Core Maths for Advanced Level, Bostock & Chandler, (2000).
Foundation Maths, Croft & Davison, 5th ed., (2010).
Foundation Mathematics, Stroud & Booth, (2009).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Subject-specific learning outcomes:

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Represent and analyse lines, curves (including quadratics) and circles.
Know trigonometric and related functions and solve equations involving them.
Represent, manipulate, and analyse vectors and their properties.
Apply the above graphical methods in modelling phenomena in physical sciences.
Proceed with a firm foundation in maths (in combination with similar modules) to be successful in Stage 1 (Level 4) of physical science programmes in the School of Physical Sciences.

Generic learning outcomes:

Problem-solving skills, an ability to formulate problems in precise terms and to identify key issues, and the confidence to try different approaches in order to make progress on challenging problems.
Analytical skills – associated with the need to pay attention to detail and to develop an ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, to construct logical arguments and to use technical language correctly.
Personal skills – the ability to work independently, to use initiative, to organise oneself to meet deadlines and to interact with other people.
Numeracy and computational skills, including such aspects as correct use of units and modes of data presentation.


  1. Credit level 3. Foundation level module taken in preparation for a degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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