Waves and Vibrations - PHYS0025

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 3 15 (7.5) Timothy Kinnear checkmark-circle


The module will cover the following:

• Types of waves. Characteristics of a wave: frequency, period, amplitude, wavelength and velocity. Introduction to transverse and longitudinal waves and polarisation.
• Properties of Waves: Qualitative description of the properties of waves; motion, reflection, refraction (Snell's law), dispersion, diffraction, interference, standing waves.
• Sound Waves: Description of sound - loudness, noise, note, pitch, intensity, intensity level. Properties of sound - reflection, refraction, interference (interference pattern produced by two speakers), beats, and resonance in a vibrating wire, including overtones/harmonics. Qualitative treatment of Doppler Effect.
• Electromagnetic (em) Waves: Electromagnetic spectrum. Qualitative treatment of em waves from different parts of the spectrum. Refraction of light - critical angle and optical fibres. Polarisation of light, microwaves and radio waves. Interference. Young's double slit experiment. The Michelson interferometer. Transmission diffraction grating - orders of diffraction, application in spectroscopy.
• Simple Harmonic Motion (SHM): Displacement, velocity and acceleration of a body undergoing SHM Link between SHM and circular motion. Force acting on a body undergoing SHM. Qualitative description of systems displaying SHM. Detailed description of pendulum and mass on a spring. Energy in SHM. General expression for SHM.
• Damping and Forced Oscillations: Qualitative treatment of light, heavy and critical damping. Qualitative discussion of the concepts of natural frequency, resonance and the behaviour of vibratory systems driven by a periodic force.


Contact hours

Private Study: 125
Contact Hours: 25
Total: 150


Not available as an elective module.

Method of assessment

• Moodle Quiz 1 (1 hour) – 15%
• Moodle Quiz 2 (1 hour) – 15%
• Examination (2 hours) – 70%

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical laws and principles, and their application to diverse areas of physics (this will include laws of motion, electromagnetism, wave phenomena and the properties of matter), with modules covering the necessary mathematics.
2. Demonstrate an ability to identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
3. Demonstrate an ability to solve problems in physics using appropriate mathematical tools.
4. Demonstrate an ability to use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical behaviour.
5. Demonstrate an ability to present and interpret information graphically.
6. Demonstrate an ability to make use of appropriate texts, or other learning resources as part of managing their own learning.


  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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