Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


Modern Physics 2 deals with the application of non-classical physics to the motion of systems that are moving really fast or systems that are really small, both of which lie outside the realm of Newtonian Mechanics. As such, Modern Physics 2 is fundamental to the engineering and technology of satellite communications, quantum computing and nuclear reactions.

At its core Modern Physics 2 studies: (a) the motion of particles and systems at speeds close to the speed of light (b) nuclear processes and their applications to biological systems (c) the properties of sub-atomic particles and matter. This course provides an intermediate level calculus-based treatment of Special Relativity, Nuclear Physics and Particle Physics. Blended problem-based conceptual learning (lectorials) will be used to gain an understanding of key developments, ideas and theories covered in Modern 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 Modern Physics 2.



  • Semester 2 - 2022

Learning outcomes

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

1. Describe the role of special relativity and nuclear physics in the development of modern physics.

2. Describe and classify subatomic particles, their interactions, and how they are experimentally observed and studied.

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:

  • Special Relativity: frames of reference; Einstein's postulates; space-time interval; Lorentz equations; energy-momentum interval.
  • Nuclear Physics: nuclear properties and models; nuclear reactions; radiation detectors; biological effects of radiation; applications selected from a range including medicine, nuclear power production, industrial applications & environmental issues.
  • Particle Physics: fundamental interactions; classification of particles; conservation laws and symmetries; quarks; beyond the standard model; accelerators.    



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

Assumed knowledge


Assessment items

Quiz: Weekly Quiz

In Term Test: In Term Test

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 Off 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.