Available in 2021
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


Modern Physics 1 deals with the application of quantum mechanics to understand the properties of atoms and materials. As such, Modern Physics 1 is fundamental to our understanding of the building blocks of the Universe as well as the engineering and technology of atomic systems and electronic devices.

At its core Modern Physics 1 studies: (a) wave-particle duality, and its application to atomic systems and solids (b) the thermal, electrical and optical properties of materials (c) atomic structure and systems. This course provides an intermediate level calculus-based treatment of Quantum, Atomic and Solid State Physics.

Blended problem-based conceptual learning (lectorials) will be used to gain an understanding of key developments, ideas and theories covered in Modern Physics 1. Blended problem-based hands-on learning (laboratory workshops) will be used to gain an understanding of key experiments, models and analysis covered in Modern Physics 1.

Availability2021 Course Timetables


  • Semester 1 - 2021

Replacing course(s)

This course replaces the following course(s): PHYS2170. Students who have successfully completed PHYS2170 are not eligible to enrol in PHYS2211.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Apply the principles of quantum mechanics to describe the properties of atoms and solids, and their interaction with electromagnetic radiation.

2. Explain the connection between the crystal structures of solids, their electron behaviour, and how these control the physical properties of solids.

3. Solve qualitative and quantitative problems, using appropriate mathematical and computing techniques.

4. Perform experiments which involve 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.

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

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


The topics to be covered include:•    Quantum Mechanics: waves particle duality; Schrodinger equation; bound states, expectation values & operators, unbound states; three dimensional systems;•    Atomic Physics:  the hydrogen atom; fundamentals of atomic structure; describing multi-electron atoms; spin-orbit coupling; atomic radiation; atoms in electric and magnetic fields.•    Solid State Physics: introduction to crystal structures; the band theory of solids; thermal, electrical and optical properties of materials.





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 PHYS2170 they cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge


Assessment items

Quiz: Weekly Quiz

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Tutorial/Laboratory exercises

Formal Examination: Formal Examination

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for 11 Weeks


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.