PHYS3100 Electrodynamics, Special and General Relativity

6 points

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Not available in 2021UWA (Perth)Face to face Predominantly face-to-face. On campus attendance required to complete this unit. May have accompanying resources online.
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the Frontier Physics major sequence
This unit covers the content of PHYS3002, but with the addition of general relativity. The general theory of relativity is a major building block of modern physics, which lies at the heart of exciting astrophysical and cosmological discoveries made in the past decade. This addition provides an introduction to general relativity as a theory of gravity, which associates the gravitational attraction with the changing geometry of space-time instead of the traditional view of an invisible force. Students will explore the concepts and theories relating to the Big Bang, Black Holes and Gravitational Waves.

In this unit, students will learn about (1) electrodynamics — conservation laws, electromagnetic waves, potentials and fields, radiation; and (2) special relativity — special theory of relativity, relativistic mechanics, relativistic electrodynamics, (3) introduction to general relativity — the equivalence principle, curved spacetime coordinates, spacetime metric, Schwarzschild geometry and the geodesic equation. The content is explored with reference to a range of applications and physical contexts, and developed and applied through a laboratory experiment. Skills in problem identification, mathematical exploration and solution are fostered through practice problem sets, workshop activities and a laboratory experiment.
Students are able to (1) analyse the concepts and physical principles involved in advanced electrodynamics, special and general relativity; (2) communicate ideas, both orally and written, relating to advanced electrodynamics, special and general relativity and perform experiments, at an expert level; (3) solve problems in a range of realistic situations relating to advanced electrodynamics, special and general relativity; (4) execute an advanced experiment relevant to physics; (5) evaluate the results of an advanced experiment relevant to physics; and (6) evaluate an experiment on a scale between classical and frontier physics.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) laboratories; (2) in-semester tests; and (3) 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 requirements(s) or a mark of 50 per cent or greater, whichever is higher and specified in the unit outline, for the laboratories component.

Supplementary assessment is available in this unit for those students who obtain a mark of at least 45 overall provided they have also obtained a mark of at least 45 in a specified component of the unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Darren Grasso
Unit rules
(PHYS1100 Classical and Frontier Physics (ID 7765) and PHYS2001 Quantum Physics and Electromagnetism (ID 1461)) and (MATH2501 Advanced Mathematical Methods (ID 1000) or MATH3023 Advanced Mathematics Applications (ID 6149))
PHYS3011 Mathematical Physics (ID 1473)
PHYS3002 Electrodynamics and Relativity (ID 1474)
Contact hours
lectures: average 3 hours per week; workshops: 12 hours per semester; laboratories: 24 hours per semester
  • 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.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.