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

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

Prerequisites: First-year university level courses covering topics including optics and quantum physics.

Assumed knowledge: 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 learn in this course by:  

  • Recorded 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 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, keeping a laboratory journal and preparing reports on their outcomes.

Total Study Hours

Teacher guided: 60

Learner directed: 60

Overview of Learning Resources

You will be able to access comprehensive course information, lecture notes, laboratory manuals, learning materials and other useful resources through the Canvas system. Lists of relevant reference texts, resources in the library and internet-based resources will be provided in the lecture notes and during the classes.  The online Canvas system is used extensively for lecture notes, assignments and other resources.

Overview of Assessment

This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment Task 1: Tests

Weighting 20%

Weekly tests 5%

Addresses CLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Mid-semester test 15%

Addresses CLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4

Assessment Task 2: Assignments

Weighting 40%

Optics 20%

Addresses CLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4

Photonics 20%

Addresses CLOs: 5, 6, 7, 8

Assessment Task 3: Laboratories

Weighting 20%

Addresses CLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Assessment Task 4: Skills and capability assessment

Weighting 20%

Addresses CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8