Computational Physics

Subject 640-364 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 2, - 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

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 12 lectures, 24 hours of practice classes (two hours per week) and up to 48 hours of project work
Total Time Commitment: 120 hours.

Physics 640-321 or 640-341. Mathematics 620-231 or 620-233; and mathematics 620-232 or 620-234.

No prior computing experience is necessary.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
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. Students who feel their disability may impact upon their active and safe participation in a subject are encouraged to discuss this with the relevant subject coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit.


Prof Stuart Wyithe
Subject Overview:

This subject will introduce students to the use of computational techniques in the investigation of a wide class of problems in physics. Using professional computing tools, students will learn programming and a range of numerical methods commonly used in physics research and apply these techniques to the investigation of physical systems through the completion of projects.

Four projects will be based on model problems in physics: molecular vibrations, stellar structure, quantum spin systems and large-scale magnetic systems. Students will also complete a research-style project based on one of a choice of topics from the research groups within the School of Physics, including universality in the Ising model, Fourier analysis and computer-aided tomography (CAT), many-electron atoms, hydrodynamics, interaction of radiation with matter, gravitational lensing by point masses, and atom optics.

Students completing this subject shouldbe able to:

  • explain the application of a variety of computational techniques including differencing, root finding, quadrature, ordinary and partial differential equations, matrix eigenvalue problems, Monte Carlo methods and fast Fourier transforms to physical problems; and

  • apply these methods to a range of physical situations.


Five computer-based projects due during the semester totalling up to 8000 words (100%).

Prescribed Texts: None
Recommended Texts: S Koonin, Computational Physics (FORTRAN edition) Addison-Wesley
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:

Students should enhance their ability to:

  • participate effectively as part of a group; and

  • plan effective work schedules and manage their time to meet the deadlines for submission of assessable work.

Notes: This subject is available for science credit to students enrolled in the BSc (pre-2008 degree only), BASc or a combined BSc course.
Related Course(s): Bachelor of Biomedical Science
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Physics

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