PHYS2002 The Physics of Particles

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Physics major sequence
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 2 elective
The content of this unit includes the underlying physical principles of (1) thermodynamics—exact and inexact differentials, quasistatic processes, thermodynamic potentials as the drivers of change; (2) statistical mechanics—the microcanonical ensemble, the canonical ensemble, the ideal gas and real gases, Einstein's solid, the grand canonical ensemble, Bose and Fermi distributions and gases; (3) nuclear physics—basic nuclear properties, radioactive decay, semi-empirical mass formula and liquid drop model, fusion on the main sequence; and (4) particle physics—description of interactions in terms of virtual particle exchange, electromagnetics, weak and strong interactions, residual strong interaction. The content is explored with reference to a range of applications and physical contexts, and developed and applied through a series of laboratory tasks. Skills in problem identification, mathematical exploration and solution are fostered through assignment sheets and tutorial activities.
Students are able to (1) develop understanding of the physical principles underlying thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, nuclear physics and particle physics; (2) apply critical thinking skills in a range of conceptual physical situations; (3) use appropriate mathematical techniques; (4) develop and apply problem identification and mathematical solution skills in a range of conceptual physical situations; (5) develop understanding of the physical principles of measurement, experimental technique, quantitative analysis and data analysis relevant to physics; and (6) develop and apply written communication skills appropriate to the discipline of physics.
Typically this unit is assessed in the following ways: (1) laboratory; (2) assignments; and (3) a final examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

To pass this unit, a student must: (a) achieve an overall mark of 50 per cent or higher for the unit; and (b) achieve the requisite standard(s) for the laboratory component of the unit, as specified in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Ian McArthur
Unit rules
PHYS1001 Physics for Scientists and Engineers
PHYS1002 Modern Physics
(MATH1001 Mathematical Methods 1
MATH1011 Multivariable Calculus)
Contact hours
lectures: average 3 hours per week; tutorials: 1 hour per week; project/lab work: 18 hours per semester

Current information is available in the School of Physics textbooks list.

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available at the University Co-operative Bookshop (from early January) and appropriate administrative offices for students to consult. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.