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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Light and Optics
Module Code PS102
School School of Physical Sciences
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Greg Hughes
Semester 2: Greg Hughes
Autumn: Greg Hughes
Module TeachersPaul Van Kampen
Eilish McLoughlin
Greg Hughes
Robert O'Connor
Jennifer Gaughran
Karsten Fleischer
Shane O'Sullivan
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only

This module provides a general introduction to the properties of light, geometrical optics, optical instruments, interference & diffraction.

Learning Outcomes

1. Explain how electromagnetic waves are generated and how they propogate.
2. Describe the laws that govern the reflection and refraction of light.
3. Predict how images are formed by reflection in plane or cuved mirrors.
4. Predict how images are formed by an interface between two transparent materials.
5. Solve basic problems in geometrical optics.
6. Explain the physics behind how various optical instruments work.
7. Solve quantitative problems involving the concepts of interference and diffraction of light.
8. Explain the concepts of interference and diffraction of light.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture24Class based instruction
Tutorial12Discussion of conceptual and numerical problems
Online activity24Completion of pre-reading and homework assignments
Independent Study65Self directed study of concepts and practice of numerical problem solving
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Learning Activities
The online platform Mastering Physics provided by Pearson is used to help students prepare for each topic (textbook chapter) by completing assigned pre-reading and answering pre-lecture questions. All lectures include activities to promote student learning and engagement (e.g. explanation of concepts, working in small groups to solve conceptual or numerical problems, anonymous responses to multiple choice questions). Each week the students are assigned about 60 minutes of homework problems and exercises and at the end of each chapter they are assigned a Dynamic Study Assignment from Pearson ptatform.

Electromagnetic Waves
how electromagnetic waves are generated; how and why the speed of light is related to the fundamental constants of electricity and magnetism; how to describe the propagation of a sinusoidal electromagnetic wave; what determines the amount of energy and momentum carried by an electromagnetic wave; how to describe standing electromagnetic waves.

Nature & propagation of light
What light rays are and and how they are related to wave fronts; the laws that govern the reflection and refraction of light; the circumstances under which light is totally reflected at an interface; polarization of light; Dispersion & scattering of light.

Geometric optics
how a plane mirror forms an image, and why concave and convex mirrors form images of different kinds; how images can be formed by a curved interface between two transparent materials; what aspects of a lens determine the type of image that it produces; what causes various defects in human vision, and how they can be corrected; how microscopes and telescopes work.

Interference of Light
what happens when two waves combine, or interfere, in space; how to understand the interference pattern formed by the interference of two coherent light waves; how to calculate the intensity at various points in an interference pattern; how interference occurs when light reflects from the two surfaces of a thin film; how interference makes it possible to measure extremely small distances.

Diffraction of Light
how to calculate the intensity at various points in a single-slit diffraction pattern; what happens when coherent light shines on an array of narrow, closely spaced slits; how x-ray diffraction reveals the arrangement of atoms in a crystal; how diffraction sets limits on the smallest details that can be seen with an optical system.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment40% Examination Weight60%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Completion of online activityContinuous Assessment 1 (week 6)20%Once per semester
Completion of online activityContinuous Assessment 2 (week 9)20%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Young & Freedman: 2020, University Physics with Modern Physics, 15, Chapters 33-36, Pearson,
  • 0: Mastering Physics with Pearson eText -- Instant Access -- for University Physics with Modern Physics, 15, https://www.pearsonmylabandmastering.com/northamerica/masteringphysics/, 263091
  • 2019: College Physics: Explore and Apply, 2, Pearson, 263092
  • 2007: The Physics of Everyday Phenomena - A conceptual introduction to Physics, 5th Edition, McGraw-Hill,
Other Resources

55271, Online simulations, University of Colorado Boulder, 0, Phet simulations, https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/,
Programme or List of Programmes
PGEPhysics General Entry
SEBSc Science Education
SMPSCSingle Module Prof. Science and Health

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