Mechanics - PH321

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
4 15 (7.5) DR E Pugh


PH300 is co-requisite.





Measurement and motion; Dimensional analysis, Motion in one dimension: velocity, acceleration, motion with constant acceleration, Motion in a plane with constant acceleration, projectile motion, uniform circular motion, and Newton's laws of motion.

Work, Energy and Momentum; Work, kinetic energy, power, potential energy, relation between force and potential energy, conservation of energy, application to gravitation and simple pendulum, momentum, conservation of linear momentum, elastic and inelastic collisions.

Rotational Motion; Rotational motion: angular velocity, angular acceleration, rotation with constant angular acceleration, rotational kinetic energy, moment of inertia, calculation of moment of inertia of a rod, disc or plate, torque, angular momentum, relation between torque and angular momentum, conservation of angular momentum.

Concept of field; 1/r2 fields; Gravitational Field; Kepler's Laws, Newton's law of gravitation, Gravitational potential, the gravitational field of a spherical shell by integration.

Oscillations and Mechanical Waves; Vibrations of an elastic spring, simple harmonic motion, energy in SHM, simple pendulum, physical pendulum, damped and driven oscillations, resonance, mechanical waves, periodic waves, their mathematical representation using wave vectors and wave functions, derivation of a wave equation, transverse and longitudinal waves, elastic waves on a string, principle of superposition, interference and formation of standing waves, normal modes and harmonics, sound waves with examples of interference to form beats, and the Doppler Effect. Phase velocity and group velocity.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Lectures (24 hours); workshop sessions (6 hours).


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Coursework 20% including class test and homework, involving problem solving.
• Final (written, unseen, length 2 hours) exam 80%.

Preliminary reading


  • Physics for Scientists and Engineers (6th Ed.); Tipler, P.A. & Mosca, G. (2008)

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

  • Learning outcomes

  • Knowledge and understanding of laws and principles of mechanics, and their application to diverse areas of physics.
  • An ability to identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
  • An ability to solve problems involving mechanics using appropriate mathematical tools.
  • An ability to use mathematical techniques and analysis to model behaviour involving mechanics.
  • An ability to present and interpret information relating to mechanics graphically.
  • An ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources about mechanics as part of managing their own learning.
  • Problem-solving skills, in the context of both problems with well-defined solutions and open-ended problems; 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. Numeracy is subsumed within this area.
  • 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.

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