Course Title: Mechanics and Thermodynamics

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Mechanics and Thermodynamics

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2010

Course Coordinator: Dr Alexander Merchant

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3388

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 14.5.13

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

The course assumes VCE Physics or equivalent as a prerequisite. This is generally an entrance requirement into the programs taking the course.

Course Description

This course is a first year core component in several B.App.Sc programs including Physics, Applied Physics and Nanotechnology, the Physics/Engineering Double Degrees and the Physics Dual Awards. Mechanics and Thermodynamics are key areas of understanding for many areas of physics and nanotechnology and this course is designed to give a first year introduction to the subject.
Thermodynamics is another field which is fundamental to a wide range of topics in physics and other sciences and this topic is also dealt with by a short series of lectures.
The course also provides a short series of lectures on Nanotechnology. This is a growing field of interest to student with diverse science backgrounds and studying programs other than physics. It is allows students to hear about and appreciate the research relevant work within RMIT and beyond.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

At the end of the course the student should:
• be able to solve elementary problems about the behaviour of Mechanical and Thermodynamic systems using the concepts of Newtonian Mechanics, Continuum Mechanics and Thermodynamics;
• be capable of communicating and explaining these concepts to others;
• be able to work in a group environment to solve extended physics problems;
• understand how to apply the theory they have learned to novel physical situations;
• be able to maintain a scientific journal and report on technical matters in a clear and concise way.

Students completing the course should be able to solve elementary problems about the behaviour of Mechanical and Thermodynamic systems using the concepts of Newtonian Mechanics, Continuum Mechanics, Wave theory and Thermodynamics. The conceptual basis established will enable students to understand related topics in the later years of all programs taking this course.

Overview of Learning Activities

Students will learn in this course by:
• attendance at lectures where material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples;
• private study, working through the theory as presented in lectures, texts and notes, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems;
• completing tutorial questions designed to give further practice in application of theory, and to give feedback on student progress and understanding;
• completing written assignments consisting of numerical and other problems requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter;
• undertaking a number of laboratory experiments, keeping a journal of their work and writing a report, or doing a test, on an experiment.
• Formative assessment, including Weblearn tests.

Overview of Learning Resources

Students will find it beneficial to purchase the prescribed textbook. They will need to consult lecture notes, laboratory exercise notes and other supporting material made available through either the DLS or the RMIT Bookshop. A list of useful references, available through the Library, will be provided. Students are expected to have a personal scientific calculator.

Overview of Assessment

Much of the assessment is formative and done continuously throughout the semester, through written assignments and tests, some of which may be administered through the DLS. These will develop and test the ability to recall concepts and apply them in familiar and unfamiliar situations, and to carry out numerical calculations correctly. Laboratory work is assessed through a laboratory journal and a formal report, in which laboratory and communication skills are displayed. There will a final examination in the course to assess overall integration of concepts and mastery of the course material.