Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


Waves and oscillating systems are fundamental to an understanding of the physical world. Through these concepts we can understand diverse phenomena, from pendulums, musical instruments, and mechanical structures, through tides, plasma waves in space, to the nature of light. Technological applications of these ideas are at the heart of all optical and electrical devices.

At its core Classical Physics 2 studies the motion of particles, fields and energy using the concepts of Wave Mechanics. This course requires an intermediate level of calculus for treatment of waves and oscillators, electromagnetism and optics.

Blended problem-based conceptual learning (lectorials) will be used to gain an understanding of key developments, ideas and theories covered in Classical Physics 2. Blended problem-based, hands-on learning (laboratory workshops) will be used to gain an understanding of key experiments, models and analysis covered in Classical Physics 2.

At the end of this course students will have a deeper understanding of concepts in mechanics, optics and electromagnetism, and be able to solve time-dependent problems in these areas.



  • Semester 2 - 2022

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Describe how the concepts of waves and oscillations are used to develop models of electromagnetism and optical devices.

2. Solve qualitative and quantitative wave, electromagnetism, and optics problems, using appropriate mathematical and computing techniques.

3. Perform experiments to investigate the properties of wave system in mechanics, electromagnetism, and optics making correct and appropriate use of a range of scientific equipment, keeping an accurate record of experimental work and analysing results and reaching non-trivial conclusions from them.

4. Communicate the results of both theoretical and experimental work in mechanics, optics, and electromagnetism in various forms including written reports, oral presentations and poster presentations.

5. Contribute to team and group work for scientific investigations and for the process of learning.


  • Waves and Oscillations
    • Fundamental waves concepts and methods of analysis
    • Behaviour of damped, forced and coupled oscillators
  • Electromagnetism
    • Vector calculus treatment of Maxwell’s equations
    • Time-dependent electric and magnetic fields
    • Electromagnetic wave equation
  • Optics
    • Ideas of wave optics, interference, diffraction, optical devices, and optical Fourier transforms


Students must have successfully completed PHYS1210 and PHYS1220, and at least one of MATH1120, MATH1210 or MATH1220 to enrol in this course.

If students have completed PHYS2260 they cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge


Assessment items

Quiz: Weekly Quizzes

Written Assignment: 3 Homework Assignments

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: 3-5 Tutorial/Laboratory Exercises

Formal Examination: Formal Examination

Project: Group Project

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for 11 Weeks starting in week 1


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term starting in week 1

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.