Undergraduate Physics Courses (Detail)

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PHY 131 General physics Back to Top

This course is intended for students who require only a single semester of physics. Students who have passed the PHY131 course but would prefer to continue with the PHY124 year course, will have to do an additional course. This change can only be made after approval by the Head of the Department. Units, vectors, one-dimensional kinematics, dynamics, work, equilibrium, sound, liquids, heat, electric potential and capacitance, direct current and alternating current, optics, modern physics, radioactivity.
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Lecturer

PHY 141 General physics Back to Top

*This is an anti-semester presentation of the module PHY 131 General Physics 131. Refer to PHY 131 for the content description. Students will not be credited for both PHY 131 and PHY 141 toward their degree.
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Lecturer: There are no formal lectures for this course except weekly tutorial classes by a tutor.

PHY 133 Physics

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Heat: temperature and scales, the kinetic molecular model, work, energy and heat, calorimetry, specific heat, expansion, heat transfer. Measurements: SI-units, measuring error and uncertainty, (graphs), significant figures, mathematical modelling. Geometrical optics: reflection, refraction, dispersion, mirrors, thin lenses, instruments.
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PHY 143 Physics

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Waves: sound, intensity, superposition, interference, standing waves, resonance, beats, Doppler effect. Physical optics: Young-interference, coherence, thin layers, diffraction, gratings, polarisation. Hydrostatics and dynamics: density, pressure, Archimedes' law, continuity, Bernouli.
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PHY 153 Physics

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Vectors. Kinematics of a point: relative, projectile, circular motion. Dynamics: Newton's laws, friction. Work: point masses, gases (ideal gas law), gravitation, spring, power. Kinetic energy. Potential energy: conservative forces, gravitation, spring, conservation of mechanical energy and energy, conservation of momentum. Impulse and collisions. System of particles: centre of mass, Newton's laws, Rotation: torque, conservation of angular momentum, equilibrium, centre of gravity.
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PHY 163 Physics

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*This module corresponds to the second semester course, PHY 124. The four modules PHY 133, PHY 143, PHY 153 and PHY 163 are equivalent to PHY 114 & PHY 124 together.

Simple harmonic motion and pendulums. Coulomb's law. Electric field: dipole, Gauss' law. Potential. Capacitance. Electric currents: resistance, resistivity, Ohm's law, energy, power, semiconductors, superconductors, emf, RC-circuits. Magnetism : Hall effect, Biot-Savart law. Faraday's and Lenz's laws. LR-circuits. Alternating current : RLC-circuits, power transformers. Modern physics : Theory of special relativity, wave/particle nature, photoelectric effect, matter waves, quantum theory, infinite potential well, hydrogen atom and spectra, nuclear physics, Rutherford model, nucleons.
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Lecturer

PHY 114 First course in physics

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SI-units, Significant figures, waves, sound, intensity, superposition, interference, standing waves, resonance, beats, Doppler effect, geometrical optics: reflection, refraction, dispersion, mirrors, thin lenses, instruments. Physical optics: young-interference, coherence, thin layers, diffraction, gratings, polarisation. Hydrostatics and dynamics: density, pressure, Archimedes' law, continuity, Bernouli. Heat: temperature and scales, specific heat, expansion, heat transfer. Vectors. Kinematics of a point: relative, projectile, and circular motion. Dynamics: Newton's laws, friction. Work: point masses, gases (ideal gas law), gravitation, spring, power. Kinetic energy. Potential energy: conservative forces, gravitation, spring. Conservation of mechanical energy and energy. Conservation of momentum. Impulse and collisions. System of particles : center of mass, Newton's laws, Rotation : torque, conservation of angular momentum, equilibrium, center of gravity.
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Lecturer

PHY 124 First course in physics

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Simple harmonic motion and pendulums. Coulomb's law. Electric field : dipole, Gauss' law. Potential. Capacitance. Electric currents: resistance, resistivity, Ohm's law, energy, power, semiconductors, superconductors, emf, RC-circuits. Magnetism : Hall effect, Biot-Savart law. Faraday's and Lenz's laws. LR-circuits. Alternating current : RLC-circuits, power transformers. Modern physics : Theory of special relativity, wave/particle nature, photoelectric effect, matter waves, quantum theory, infinite potential well, hydrogen atom and spectra, nuclear physics, Rutherford model, nucleons.
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SCI 154 Exploring the universe

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This module is presented in English only. Students from all faculties are welcome to join us in our exploration of the universe from an earth-bound perspective. We reflect on the whole universe from the submicroscopic to the vast macroscopic and mankind’s modest position therein. To what degree is our happiness determined by stars? Echo's from ancient firmaments – the astronomy of old civilisations. The universe is born with a bang. Stars, milky ways and planets are formed. Life is breathed into the landscape on earth, but is there life elsewhere? The architecture of the universe – distance measurements, structure of our solar system and systems of stars. What does it look like on neighbouring planets? Comets and meteorites. Life cycles of stars. Spectacular exploding stars! Exotica like pulsars and black holes.
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PHY 210 Astronomy for Physicists

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Introduction to the universe: distance and time scales. Solar System overview. Techniques of astronomy: telescopes and optics, basic radio receiver. Solar system: gas giants, terrestrial planets, small bodies. Stellar evolution and death. Interstellar medium: gas, dust, molecules and masers. Supernova and Pulsars: galaxies and the Milky Way, galactic evolution and classification. Quasars, apparent superluminal motion, black holes. Big Bang, and the age of the universe. Expansion of the universe. SKA, MeerKAT, SALT, HESS and history of astronomy in SA. Other current topics in astronomy.
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PHY 255 Waves, Thermodynamics and Modern Physics

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Vibrating systems & Waves (12 lectures)
Simple harmonic motion (SHM). Superposition (different frequencies, equal frequencies). Perpendicular vibrations (Lissajous figures). Damped SHM. Forced oscillations. Resonance. Q-value. Transverse wave motion. Plane wave solution using method of separation of variables. Reflection and transmission at a boundary. Normal & eigenmodes. Wave packets. Group velocity.
Lecturer

Modern Physics (30 lectures)
Special Relativity: Galilean & Lorentz transformations. Postulates. Momentum and energy. 4 vectors & tensors. General relativity. Quantum physics. Failure of classical physics. Bohr model. Particle-wave duality. Schrödinger equation. Piece-wise constant potentials. Tunneling. Hydrogen atom. Angular momentum. Spin. X-rays. Laser. Nuclear physics: Fission. Fusion. Radioactivity. 
Lecturer

Heat & Thermodynamics (14 lectures)
Heat. First Law. Kinetic theory of gases. Mean free path. Ideal, Clausius, Van der Waals and virial gases. Entropy. Second Law. Engines & refrigerators. Third Law. Thermodynamic potentials: Enthalpy Helmholtz & Gibbs free energies, Chemical potential. Legendre transformations (Maxwell relations). Phase equilibrium. Gibbs phase rule.
Lecturer

Modelling and Simulation
Introduction to programming in a high level system.: Concept of an algorithm and the basic logic of a computer programme. Symbolic manipulations, graphics, numerical computations. Applications: Selected illustrative examples.
Lecturer

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PHY 263 General Physics

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Classical Mechanics (28 lectures)
Mechanics of deformable matter: fluids, Pascal's Law. Archimedes's Law, Bernoulli equation. Elasticity. Bulk & Yong's modulus. Shear. Fundamental concepts : Space & time. Newton's Llaws. One-dimensional motion. Conservative forces. Conservation of energy. Motion near equilibrium. Collision problems. Energy & angular momentum : Energy. Conservative forces. Torque, angular momentum. Central forces. Hamilton's principle & Lagrange's equations. Central conservative forces: Conservation Laws. Inverse square force. Orbits equation. Scattering cross sections. Impact parameter. Rotating frames: angular velocity. Rate of change of a vector. Apparent gravity. Coriolis force. Precession of elliptic orbit around centre of force. Two body problem: centre-of-mass & relative coordinates also Lagrange equations. The centre-of-mass frame (P, J and T). Many body systems: momentum & centre of mass (CM) motion. Angular momentum & moment's of internal forces. Kinetic & potential energy. Lagrange equations in CM & relative coordinates.
Lecturer

Physical Optics (14 lectures)
Electromagnetic theory: Maxwell equations - simplified form for uniform transverse fields. Wave equation & plane-wave solutions. Electromagnetic character of light. Spherical waves. Waves at an interface: fresnel equations. Evanescent waves. Conducting media. Complex index of refraction. Polarization: Law of Malus. Jones vectors & matrices. Crystal optics: Dielectric tensor. Index ellipsoid & surfaces. Characteristic waves. Unixial crystals. Interference: superposition of vector fields, wave-front splitting, amplitude splitting. Thin-film stack - matrix methods. Diffraction: Huygens principle. Fraunhofer approximation. Single & double slit. Diffraction grating.
Lecturer

Physics of Materials (14 lectures)
Classification of materials. Atomic bonding. Crystallography. Point defects and diffusion. Line defects. Material strength. Phase diagrames. Ceramics. Polymers. Composites. Fracture. Electrical properties. Semiconductors. Surface physics. Smart materials Nanotechnology.
Lecturer

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PHY 300 Observational Astronomy

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Structure of the universe, navigation of the sky, spherical geometry, optical, radio and high energy physics and sources, instruments, practical observational skills, data recording, analysis, interpretation (signal and image processing, noise, calibration, error analysis). Project: A selected project in either optical or radio astronomy, resulting in a formal report and a presentation.Structure of the universe, navigation of the sky, spherical geometry, optical, radio and high energy physics and sources, instruments, practical observational skills, data recording, analysis, interpretation (signal and image processing, noise, calibration, error analysis). Project: A selected project in either optical or radio astronomy, resulting in a formal report and a presentation.
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PHY 310 Particle and Astroparticle Physics

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Relativistic kinematics, fundamentals of elementary particle physics, the four forces of nature and the Standard Model, beyond the Standard Model, early universe cosmology (inflation, baryogenesis), the Cosmic Microwave Background, high-energy astronomy (cosmic rays, gamma rays and neutrinos), gravitational waves, dark matter (evidence, candidates, detection), dark energy and the Standard Cosmological Model.
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PHY 353 Physics Project

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A student is required to complete a project under guidance of the lecturer. The nature of the project is determined jointly by the student, lecturer and the Head of Department. Requiremen: admission only with the approval of the Head of Department and lecturer involved. Cannot be used as substitute for other Physics third -year modules to obtain admission to the BSc(Hons) in Physics.
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PHY 356 Electronics, Electromagnetism and Quantum mechanics

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Electronics (8 lectures)
Thévenin & Norton equivalent circuits, superposition principle, RC, LC & LRC circuits. Semiconductor diode. Bipolar transitor. Operational amplifiers. Computer controlled instrumentation.
Lecturer

Electromagnetism (20 lectures)
Electrostatics - Coulomb’s law, divergence and curl of E, Gauss’ law, Laplace’s equation, image charge problems, multipole expansion. Magnetostatics: Lorenz force, Biot-Savart law, divergence and curl of magnetic field strength, Ampère’s law, magnetic vector potential, multipole expansion, boundary conditions. Electrodynamics - Electromotive force, electromagnetic induction, Maxwell’s equations, wave equation. Electric & magnetic fields in matter: Polarization, electric displacement & Gauss’s law in dielectrics, linear dielectrics. Magnetization (diamagnets, paramagnets, ferromagnets), auxiliary field H & Ampère’s law in magnetized materials, linear and nonlinear media.
Lecturer

Quantum Mechanics (28 lectures)
The mathematical and conceptual basis of Wave Mechanics: de Broglie hypothesis and the de Broglie atom. Complex vector spaces, basis vectors, operators, eigenequations. Function spaces, delta function, Fourier series and transforms, wave packets, statistical interpretation, Schrödinger equation, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. One-dimensional applications: free particle, potential wells and barriers. Eigenvalues obtained through operator methods, harmonic oscillator. Three dimensional applications: Schrödinger equation in Cartesian and spherical coordinates, angular momentum eigenvalues, 3D box, 3D oscillator spectrum. Matrix methods and spin.

Lecturer

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PHY 363 Physics project

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A student is required to complete a project under guidance of the lecturer. The nature of the project is determined jointly by the student, lecturer and the Head of Department. Requiremen: admission only with the approval of the Head of Department and lecturer involved. Cannot be used as substitute for other Physics third -year modules to obtain admission to the BSc(Hons) in Physics.
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PHY 364 General physics

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Statistical Mechanics (32 lectures)
Isolated systems in thermodynamical equilibrium. Systems in equilibrium with a heat bath: the canonical ensemble, Gibbs' entropic formula, classical statistical mechanics, energy equipartition theorem, heat capacity of classical ideal gases, heat capacity of solids. Einstein's model. Debye's model, black body radiation, paramagnetism. The classical limit of perfect gases: Gibbs paradox and the non-distinguishable character of quantum particles, Sackur-Tetrode entropic formula, the equation of state of the classical ideal gas. Quantum perfect gases: the grand canonical ensemble, Fermi-Dirac distribution, the free electron gas in metals, the Bose-Einstein distribution, Bose-Einstein condensation.
Lecturer

Solid State Physics (24 lectures)
Crystallography: waves in crystals, diffraction. Thermal lattice vibrations: the Debye model. Phonons in non-metals, thermal conductivity, scattering mechanisms for phonons.
Free electrons in crystals: free-electron theory and distribution of the electrons amongst the energy states. Electrical conductivity and the band theory: scattering mechanisms.
Semiconductors: effective mass, doping and Fermi levels. Physics of the p-n junction: applications, low dimensional systems, heterojunctions. Magnetism: Paramagnetism, susceptibility, L-S coupling and Hund's rules, Curie’s law. Ferromagnetism, hysteresis. Antiferromagnetism. Ferrimagnetism. Dielectric properties: microscopic theory of the dielectric constant, piezoelectricity, dielectric breakdown. Superconductivity: Meissner effect, origin of superconductivity, isotope effect.

Lecturer

Physics Modelling (Assessment will be done through a portfolio of project reports) Modelling of physical systems.
Lecturer

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Last edited by Claudia ZanderEdit