Course Title: Optics & Photonics

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Optics & Photonics

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2021,
Sem 2 2022,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: Professor Brant Gibson

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3649

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 014.05.003

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Assumed Knowledge

First-year university level courses covering topics including optics and quantum physics. Expertise in first year mathematics; successful completion of second-year level mathematics is desirable.

Course Description

This course is part of the second-year core theory component of courses leading to a Physics qualification in the School of Science. It covers theory and applications in the areas of:

  • Optics: this part of the course deals with the behaviour of electromagnetic radiation from the visible light spectrum. You will study the basic properties and phenomena of visible light, and how they are used in some examples of optical instruments;
  • Photonics: advanced topics in the behaviour of light, the study of interactions between photons and atomic matter, and the use of these phenomena in modern devices and instrumentation.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

The primary capabilities developed by this course are:

Knowledge capability: knowledge of fundamental physics of optics and photonics is developed to a high level.

Critical analysis and problem solving: students use conceptual models in conjunction with established theory to analyse problems and particular situations in optics and photonics. They analyse data and performance of devices using relevant mathematical and numerical tools.

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes at AQF Level 7:

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-1.2 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-3.1 You will be able to choose appropriate tools and methods to solve scientific problems within your area of specialisation.
PLO-3.2 You will demonstrate well-developed problem solving skills, applying your knowledge and using your ability to think analytically and creatively.

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.

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an extended knowledge of concepts related to Optics such as radiometry, transmission, reflection, attenuation, dispersion, interference, coherence, and diffraction;
  2. Solve conceptual and quantitative problems in Optical Physics;
  3. Describe and explain the principles involved in the interactions between light and matter, including the effects of anisotropy and non-linearity;
  4. Explain the basic properties and phenomena of visible and infrared light and its use in optical equipment;
  5. Comprehend the modification and control of optical properties of materials by externally imposed electric, magnetic and acoustic fields;
  6. Recall and recount the optical properties of semiconductor light sources and detectors;
  7. Expand the theory and applications of the confinement of light in waveguides and fibres;
  8. Apply the above principles in calculations and design issues relating to present-day devices in areas such as opto-electronics, fibre optics, and optical signal processing

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be actively engaged in a range of learning activities such as lectorials, tutorials, practicals, laboratories, seminars, project work, class discussion, individual and group activities. Delivery may be face to face, online or a mix of both.

You are encouraged to be proactive and self-directed in your learning, asking questions of your lecturer and/or peers and seeking out information as required, especially from the numerous sources available through the RMIT library, and through links and material specific to this course that is available through myRMIT Studies Course.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through myRMIT Studies Course.

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task 1: Written Tests
Weighting 50%

  • Mid-semester test 25%
    This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3 & 4
  • End of semester test 25%
    This assessment task supports CLOs 5, 6, 7 & 8

Assessment Task 2: Assignments
Weighting 20%

  • Optics 10%
    This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3 & 4
  • Photonics 10%
    This assessment task supports CLOs 5, 6, 7 & 8

Assessment Task 3: Laboratories
Weighting 25%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8

Assessment Task 4: Tutorials
Weighting 5%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8

If you have a long-term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.