Particles and Fields of Modern Physics

Student Selected Module 2005/2006 (SSM-0032/MM02)

This URL :

Summary :
The course aims to give scientifically literate non-physicists an introduction to some of the key concepts of modern physics. These concepts help us to understand the universe from the very smallest to the very largest scales and also underpin much of modern technology.

Topics covered will include:

Prerequisities :
None. However mathematics at roughly A-level standard will sometimes be assumed.

Module Timetable :
Date Lecturer Title Activity
10 November 2005 Dr. David Waters "Particles and Waves" Lab experiments : diffraction of laser light 
(SSM-E1 or SSM-E2).
17 November 2005 Dr. David Waters "Quantum Mechanics" Lab experiments : modern physics
(SSM-E3, SSM-E4, SSM-E5 or SSM-E7).
24 November 2005 Dr. David Waters "Structure of Matter" Special Lecture :
"Quantum Order"
Professor Andrew Fisher
01 December 2005 Dr. David Waters "Relativity" Video :
"Einstein & The Equation of Life & Death"
08 December 2005 Dr. David Waters "Particle Physics" Scanning OPAL Events
(SSM-E6) or Problem Class
15 December 2005 Dr. Sarah Bridle "Cosmology" "Particle Physics & Cosmology"
Dr. David Waters
12 January 2006 N/A N/A Student Presentations
19 January 2006 TBA "Concluding Remarks" Video & Student Test

All sessions will start in Seminar Room 1.20 in the Malet Place Engineering Building, at 2pm. See MAP. Practicals will be held in Lab-3, on the third floor of the Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Module Assessment :
Successful completion of this module requires satisfactory performance in the following areas :

Module Materials :

Books :

There are no set texts for the course. However, the following books may be suitable for further reading :

Web material :

Lab Work :
Simple experiments will be performed in the lab after the first two lectures. The following scripts should be followed. The experiments are mainly qualitative and a detailed analysis of the results is not expected.

Vacation Essay :
Write a short essay (no more than 1000 words) on one of the following topics :

  1. An unsolved problem in modern physics.
  2. A new technology made possible by recent advances in physics.
For example,  some possible titles could be : As well as the resources listed above, you may find it useful to look at some popular science periodicals: The essay should be handed in on 12th January. Depending on the time available and the number of students, you may be asked to prepare a very short (less than 5 minute) talk to give to the rest of the class on your selected topic.

Contact Details :
Module organiser : Dr. David Waters
Tel : 020 7679 7318
Email :