Aims/Description: PHY009 provides students with the foundations of Physics required to enter the first year of a regular Physics or other scientific degree course, or an engineering course where detailed knowledge of Physics is needed. Understanding will be developed in 3 lectures per week over a full academic year. Problem solving and example classes are integrated into lectures. The following topics will be covered: Dynamics/Mechanics; Electricity and Magnetism; Thermal Physics; Oscillations, Waves, and Optics; Properties of Matter; Atomic and Nuclear Physics. As PHY009 teaches no practical Physics, this module is complemented by the 10 credit laboratory module FCE002 for most science foundation year students (except for foundation year students leading to a Mathematics undergraduate programme) or FCE001 for engineering foundation year students. The greatest advances in technology have taken place in the last hundred years. In 1897 few would have imagined that the probing of materials at the atomic level would reveal so much. These early discoveries of atomic constituents and their structure would pave the way for semi-conductor electronics, develop key concepts in physical laws, and offer a replacement energy source for fossil fuels in the form of nuclear power. This course summarises key discoveries in early particle physics and combines historical background with the detailed physics understanding needed to fully appreciate the subject. These full modules aim to provide a sound foundation in Physics in preparation for Level 1 Physics modules. It introduces (i) Properties of Matter, (ii) Oscillations, waves and optics and (iii) Atomic and Nuclear Physics. (i) Properties of Matter discusses structural, mechanical and electrical properties in terms of simple models. (ii) treats vibration and waves introducing the concepts of wavelength, frequency and wave speed. (iii) discusses the physics of the atom, including historical aspects, the electron, the photo-electric effect, Bohr's atomic model, nuclear structure and radioactivity.

Restrictions on availability: Foundation Year Programme

Teaching Methods: Lectures, Problem solving, Independent Study,
Assessment: Formal Exam, Course work, Classroom testing

Information on the department responsible for this unit (Physics and Astronomy):

Departmental Home Page
Teaching timetable


The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

URLs used in these pages are subject to year-on-year change. For this reason we recommend that you do not bookmark these pages or set them as favourites.

Teaching methods and assessment displayed on this page are indicative for 2021-22. Students will be informed by the academic department of any changes made necessary by the ongoing pandemic.

Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK