Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity

Subject PHYC20010 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Lectures, tutorials and practical laboratory classes.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 x 1 hour lectures per week (total 27 lectures); 1 x one hour tutorial per week (total 9 classes); 1 x three hour laboratory class per week (total 6 classes)
Total Time Commitment:

Estimated total time commitment of 120 hours


One of

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Semester 1

Plus one of

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:

Plus one of

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Semester 1, Semester 2

Plus one of

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Summer Term, Semester 1, Semester 2

MAST10013 UMEP Mathematics for High Achieving Students.

(MAST10007 Linear Algebra may be taken concurrently).



Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:

Students who have completed any of the following subjects cannot enrol in this subject for credit

  • 640-223 Quantum Mechanics and Thermal Physics Advanced (prior to 2009)
  • 640-243 Quantum Mechanics and Thermal Physics (prior to 2009)
Core Participation Requirements:

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study and reasonable steps will be made to enhance a student’s participation in the University’s programs. This subject requires all students to actively and safely participate in laboratory activities. Students who feel their disability may impact upon their participation are encouraged to discuss this with the subject coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit.


Prof Rachel Webster


Email: PHYC20010@physics.unimelb.edu.au

Subject Overview:

This subject introduces students to two key concepts in physics: quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Quantum mechanics topics include the quantum theory of light, the particle nature of matter, matter waves, quantum mechanics in one dimension and tunneling phenomena. Special relativity topics will include the foundations of special relativity, spacetime invariance, simultaneity, and Minkowski diagrams, relativistic kinematics, the Doppler effect, relativistic dynamics, and nuclear reactions.


To challenge students to expand their knowledge of fundamental physics principles and develop their capacity to:

  • discuss the key observations and events that led to the development of quantum mechanics and special relativity;
  • explain the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics and special relativity and use these principles in the analysis of simple problems;
  • acquire and interpret experimental data and perform computer modelling.

Ongoing assessment of practical work during the semester including:

  • log-book record keeping and participation (10%)
  • a written report of up to 2,000 words (10%)

Satisfactory completion of practical work is necessary to pass the subject, including attendance and submission of work for at least 80% of workshop sessions, together with a result for assessed work of at least 50%.

  • One written test with a total duration of up to 30 minutes, held mid semester (5%)
  • Two written assignments requiring a total of up to 8 hours of work outside class time during the semester (10% in total)
  • A 3-hour written examination in the examination period (65%)
Prescribed Texts:

Serway, Moses and Moyer, Modern Physics 3rd Ed. Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning, 2005

Recommended Texts:

NMJ Woodhouse, Special Relativity, Springer, 2003

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

A student who completes this subject should be able to:

  • explain their understanding of physics principles and applications lucidly, both in writing and orally;
  • acquire and interpret experimental data and design experimental investigations;
  • participate as an effective member of a group in tutorial discussions, laboratory and study groups;
  • think independently and analytically, and direct his or her own learning;
  • manage time effectively in order to be prepared for regular practical and tutorial classes, tests, the examination and to complete assignments.

This subject is available for science credit to students enrolled in the BSc (both pre-2008 and new degrees), BASc or a combined BSc course.

Students are strongly advised to undertake MAST20009 Vector Calculus in parallel with PHYC20010, to provide additional mathematical expertise for this subject and as it is a pre-requisite for second semester physics subjects.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Science credit subjects* for pre-2008 BSc, BASc and combined degree science courses
Science-credited subjects - new generation B-SCI and B-ENG. Core selective subjects for B-BMED.

Download PDF version.