Course Title: Modern Physics

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Modern Physics

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2021,
Sem 2 2022

Course Coordinator: Assoc Prof Nicolas Menicucci

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2886

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 14.12.8

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment, by email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

It is assumed that you have passed Year-12 Mathematical Methods, that you are familiar with Physics at VCE (Year 12) level and that you are proficient with basic calculus and complex numbers. This includes basic differentiation and integration, basic functional analysis, and basic calculations using complex numbers.

Course Description

Modern Physics involves the extremes of very small distances and velocities close to the speed of light. These extremes demanded new theories in the early part of the 20th century and yielded the weird and wonderful results of Einstein’s relativity theory and the mysterious world of quantum mechanics.

This course reviews introductory mechanics and then introduces optics and wave theory before launching into Einstein’s theory of special relativity and introducing quantum mechanics for the description of atomic and nuclear physics and introducing the mathematical formalism required for further study in the field of quantum technology.

If you want to proceed to study physics at second or third year level, you need to take this course because it forms a foundation for further studies.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes:

PLO-1 Understanding science

  • PLO-1.1 You will demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method and an ability to apply the scientific method in practice.
  • PLO-1.3 You will demonstrate an understanding of the role and importance of evidence in the continuous evolution of scientific knowledge.

PLO-2 Scientific knowledge

  • PLO-2.1 You will have broad knowledge in your chosen discipline, with deep knowledge in its core concepts.

PLO-3 Inquiry and Problem Solving

  • PLO-3.3 You will be able to choose appropriate tools and methods to solve scientific problems within your area of specialization.
  • PLO-3.5 You will possess an ability to accurately record, analyse, interpret and critically evaluate your research findings.

PLO-4 Communication

  • PLO-4.1 You will be able to communicate the solution to a problem or the results of a scientific investigation using effective oral, written and presentation skills.

PLO-5 Personal and professional responsibility

  • PLO-5.1 You will develop a capacity for independent and self-directed work.
  • PLO-5.2 You will work responsibly, safely, legally and ethically.
  • PLO-5.3 You will develop an ability to work collaboratively.


Upon successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  1. Recall and apply knowledge in the areas of mechanics, optics and waves, special relativity and quantum physics (developing the knowledge capability dimension);
  2. Analyse and solve problems in these areas (developing the critical analysis and problem solving capability dimension);
  3. Conduct relevant experiments, analyse data and report results in written form (developing the technical capability and communication dimensions).

Overview of Learning Activities

Learning in this course will be by:

  • Watching and engaging with the recorded lectures;
  • Attendance at weekly lectorials, 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/lectorials, texts and notes, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems;
  • Completing tutorial questions during the weekly tutorial. These are designed to give you further practice in application of theory and feedback on student progress and understanding;
  • Completing written and online assignments consisting of numerical and other problems requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter;
  • Undertaking a number of laboratory experiments related to the theory topics, and preparing reports on their outcomes.



Overview of Learning Resources

You will be able to access course information and extensive learning materials, linked to the course textbook, through the Canvas website.  Other reference texts and resources will also be available from the RMIT Bookshop and Library, as well as online. You will use laboratory equipment and computer-aided learning facilities within the School for project and assignment work.

Overview of Assessment

Note that:

This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment during semester will be through tests and assignments, laboratory practice and reports, much of which will be conducted or submitted online.  There will be an end-of-semester examination. These assessment tasks will be designed to assess the development of the capabilities referred to above.

Assessment item 1: Theory assessments
Weighting 40%
This assessment item supports CLOs 1-3

Assessment item 2: Laboratory assessments
Weighting 20%
This assessment item supports CLOs 1-3

Assessment item 3: Skills and capabilities assessment
Weighting 40%
This assessment item supports CLOs 1-3