The University of Newcastle, Australia
Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


Optics is one of the cornerstones of physics and is at the heart of all modern imaging and communications technologies. This course provides students with an understanding of optical phenomena based on the wave description of light. The principles of polarization, interference and diffraction will be fully developed and optical devices that use these properties of light will be described. The application of Fourier analysis to describe optical systems will be given.


Not currently offered.

This Course was last offered in Semester 1 - 2019.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Describe the optical principles of thick lenses and optical aberrations.

2. Use the principles of wave motion and superposition to explain the physics of polarisation, interference and diffraction.

3. Describe the operation of optical devices, including, polarisers, retarders, modulators and inteferometers.

4. Apply Fourier analysis to describe optical phenomena.

5. Solve problems in optics by selecting the appropriate equations and performing numerical or analytical calculations.

6. Follow instructions to perform laboratory experiments in optics and document their results, using correct procedures and protocols.

7. Analyse, interpret and communicate results from laboratory experiments, orally or in a written laboratory report.


The interaction of light with materials.

  • propagation
  • reflection
  • refraction

The Superposition of Waves

  • waves of the same frequency
  • waves of different frequency
  • anharmonic waves


  • mathematical descriptions of polarised light
  • generating polarised light
  • optical devices using polarisation


  • wavefront splitting interferometers
  • amplitude splitting interferometers
  • multiple beam intereference


  • Fraunhofer diffraction
  • Fresnel diffraction

Fourier Optics

Assumed knowledge

PHYS1210, PHYS1220 and MATH1120 (or MATH1220)

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Written Assignments

Formal Examination: Formal Examination

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Laboratory Reports

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Class Quiz

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Laboratory: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - In order to participate in this course students must complete a compulsory safety induction.