PHY1021 
Vector Mechanics 
202021 

Dr F. Gielen 


Delivery Weeks: 
T1:0105,0712 

Level: 
4 (NQF) 

Credits: 
15 NICATS / 7.5 ECTS 

Enrolment: 
149 students (approx) 

Description
This module uses lectures and guided selfstudy to develop students' understanding of
Newtonian classical mechanics and special relativity. Although some of the concepts
will be familiar from Alevel, vector notation will be used throughout. Particular
emphasis is placed on the precise and consistant application of the laws and methods.
Module Aims
Our interest in mechanics arises from its general applicability to a vast number of familiar
phenomena. This module provides meaningful and easily visualizable problems which allow development
of the skills of problem solving, required in all the fields of physics. It provides the necessary
background to later modules that will apply the principles of mechanics to the solution of more
complex problems.
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
A student who has passed this module should be able to:

Module Specific Skills and Knowledge:
 recognise and describe the forces that are relevant in a given
mechanics situation;
 describe the origin of and relationship between these forces,
and to describe what their consequences will be;
 solve a range of mechanics problems as defined by the syllabus
below, and by examples given in the lectures and worksheets;

Discipline Specific Skills and Knowledge:
 apply general problemsolving strategies not only to
mechanics but also to the solution of other physics problems;
 demonstrate a knowledge of mechanics that will be applicable in a range of
other physics modules;
 use vector notation consistently and correctly as an integral part of solving problems;
 use symbols that represent the numerical value and units of the physical quantities,
and manipulate/evaluate expressions involving such symbols in a precise and consistent manner;

Personal and Key Transferable / Employment Skills and Knowledge:
 undertake guided selfstudy successfully;
 develop appropriate timemanagement strategies and meet deadlines for completion of work.
Syllabus Plan

Vectors and Scalars
 Introduction
 Definition of vectors and scalars
 Scalar and vector algebra
 Transformations and the transformation matrix
 Study Package 1: displacement and distance, equations of lines and planes, triple products

Newtonian Physics
 Newton's laws and the principle of relativity, Galilean transformations
 Study Package 2: average and instantaneous velocity, motion under constant acceleration, relative velocity
 Translational and rotational dynamics, moments, moment of inertia
 Work done by forces, kinetic and potential energy, power
 Conservative and nonconservative forces
 Study Package 3: physics of friction, tensile forces in free body diagrams, concept of impulse
 Conservation theorems, energy diagrams, friction
 Twoparticle systems, centre of mass, rocket motion, collisions,
kinetic energy, zeromomentum frame
 Rigid bodies, moment of inertia, axis theorems
 Study Package 4: rotation with constant angular acceleration, moment and product of inertia,
rotation about a moving axis

Einsteinian Physics
 A brief history, the special theory of relativity, Lorentz transformations
 Study Package 5: MichelsonMorley experiment, Doppler effect, Newton's laws
 The invariance of the spacetime interval, the light cone, relativistic kinematics
 Relativistic dynamics, collisions
Learning and Teaching
Learning Activities and Teaching Methods
Description 
Study time 
KIS type 
22×1hour lectures 
22 hours

SLT 
5×6hour selfstudy packages 
30 hours

GIS 
7×2hour problems sets 
14 hours

GIS 
Problems class support 
9 hours

SLT 
Tutorial support 
3 hours

SLT 
Reading, private study and revision 
72 hours

GIS 
Assessment
Weight 
Form 
Size 
When 
ILOS assessed 
Feedback 
0% 
Exercises set by tutor 
3×1hour sets (typical) 
Scheduled by tutor 
17 
Discussion in tutorials

0% 
Guided selfstudy 
5×6hour packages 
Fortnightly 
17 
Discussion in tutorials

10% 
7 × Problems Sets 
2 hours per set 
Weekly 
17 
Marked in problems class, then discussed in tutorials

15% 
Midterm Test 1 
30 minutes 
Weeks T1:04 
17 
Marked, then discussed in tutorials

15% 
Midterm Test 2 
30 minutes 
Weeks T1:09 
17 
Marked, then discussed in tutorials

60% 
Final Examination 
120 minutes 
January 
17 
Mark via exehub, collective feedback via ELE and solutions. 
Resources
The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of information that
students are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Instructor(s).
Core text:
Supplementary texts:

Feynman R.P., Leighton R.B. and Sands M. (1963), Lectures on Physics, Vol. II, AddisonWesley, ISBN 020102117X (UL: 530 FEY/X)

Feynman R.P., Leighton R.B. and Sands M. (1965), Lectures on Physics, Vol. III, (UL: 530 FEY/X)

Spiegel M.R. and Lipschutz S. (2009), Schaum's Outline of Vector Analysis (2^{nd} edition), McGrawHill, ISBN 9780071615457 (UL: 515.63)

Thornton S.T. and Marion J.B. (2003), Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems (5^{th} edition), Tomson, ISBN 0534408966 (UL: 531.11MAR)
ELE:
Further Information
Prior Knowledge Requirements
Prerequisite Modules 
none 
Corequisite Modules 
Mathematics Skills (PHY1025) 
Reassessment
Reassessment is not available except when required by referral or deferral.
Original form of assessment 
Form of reassessment 
ILOs reassessed 
Time scale for reassessment 
Whole module 
Written examination (100%) 
17 
August/September assessment period 
Notes: See Physics Assessment Conventions.
KIS Data Summary
Learning activities and teaching methods 
SLT  scheduled learning & teaching activities 
34 hrs 
GIS  guided independent study 
116 hrs 
PLS  placement/study abroad 
0 hrs 
Total 
150 hrs 


Summative assessment 
Coursework 
10% 
Written exams 
90% 
Practical exams 
0% 
Total 
100% 

Miscellaneous
IoP Accreditation Checklist 
 CM01 Newton's laws and conservation laws including rotation.
 MT08 Threedimensional trigonometry.
 SR01 Lorentz transformations.
 SR02 The energymomentum relationship.

Availability 
unrestricted 
Distance learning 
NO 
Keywords 
Physics; Body; Conservation rules; Energy; Force; Classical mechanics; Momentum; Motion; Newton's Laws; Particle; Special Relativity; Vectors. 
Created 
01Oct10 
Revised 
08Nov12 