Course Title: Honours Physics Theory 1

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Honours Physics Theory 1

Credit Points: 24.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009

Course Coordinator: Prof James Macnae

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3401

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

There are no prerequisites for this course, other than graduate entry to Honours.

Course Description

In general, this course is intended to provide the student with the background theory necessary a) for admission to higher degrees in Physics in international institutions and b) to undertake a research project in a research group setting. This course will prepare them for that project by a series of lectures and assignments, with particular reference to their research project in the Honours program. It is intended to cover the capabilities of: knowledge, technical expertise, critical analysis and problem-solving, communication (in presenting oral and written material for evaluation by peers and others), personal and professional awareness (in discussion of relevant standards of safety, conduct and ethics), and independent and integrated practice in participating in discussion and meeting requirements for designated assignments.

The topics covered are:
Quantum Mechanics and Relativistic Physics
This component will give the student a working knowledge of advanced quantum mechanics, both methods and applications to such subjects as atoms, molecules, the interaction of radiation with matter, scattering and relativisitic effects. The course also introduces relativistic kinematics and dynamics and relativistic formulations of electromagnetism for applied physicists.
Research Methods
Advanced information retrieval and the use of referencing software
Project proposals – conceptualistion, feasibility, practicality, budgeting
Time and project management
Experimental design, including accuracy and precision
Analysis and interpretation of results
Statistics and experiments
Use of computers and software
Scientific communication
Occupational health and safety, including local requirements and procedures
Laboratory practice, records, data books, AVCC Code of Good Practice
Responsibilities as a professional scientist, including ethics
Legal aspects - confidentiality, indemnity, patents

The students will be guided through the course by structured lectures or detailed notes preceding relevant assignments to achieve competence in the desired skills

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

On completion of the course, the student should:
1. be familiar with the more advanced concepts and methods of quantum mechanics;
2. have developed an understanding of atomic and molecular structure and spectroscopy;
3. be able to branch off into other fields which use quantum theory, e.g. solid state physics and scattering;
4. have a basic understanding of the theory of special relativity leading to an understanding of its relevance to a wide range of applications;
5. have some preliminary insight into modern concepts of space-time;
6. have acquired some foundation for relativistic quantum mechanics;
7.have a detailed understanding of the theory necessary to undertake a specific research project;
8. have compiled and summarised a list of all important background references relevant to the research project to be undertaken as part of the Honours year;
9. have a thorough understanding of issues affecting research

Overview of Learning Activities

Students will learn through a series of lectures at which the various topics are described, explained and discussed; through work on a series of problem-solving and research assignments; through self-directed learning and research; and through undertaking tasks relevant to research under the individual guidance of the project supervisor.

Overview of Learning Resources

Texts and references for the lecture series will be available through the RMIT Bookshop and Library. These may be supplemented by notes supplied by the lecturers. Students will need to search Library and online resources, particularly in the current scientific journal literature, for background material and references relevant to their research project.

Overview of Assessment

The course will be assessed on the basis of a series of assignments to be submitted at intervals during semester, one or more final examinations depending on the topics taken by the student, and the written and verbal presentations prepared for the research methods component