PHY3062 Methods of Theoretical Physics 2023-24
Prof. M.E. Portnoi
Delivery Weeks: T1:01-11
Level: 6 (NQF)
Credits: 15 NICATS / 7.5 ECTS
Enrolment: 46 students (approx)


The mathematical techniques presented relate directly to the advanced modules at Stages 3 and 4 of Physics programmes, and also have wide applicability across the mathematical sciences. Practical skills are emphasised, rather than formal proofs.

Module Aims

This module aims to develop a deeper understanding of, and greater competence in using, some of the important mathematical methods and techniques of theoretical physics not covered in PHY2025.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

A student who has passed this module should be able to:

Syllabus Plan

  1. Functions of a Complex Variable
    1. Revision of basic notations and properties of complex numbers
    2. Analytic functions
    3. Cauchy's theorem
    4. Laurent expansion
    5. Calculus of residues
  2. Evaluation of Integrals
    1. Elementary methods
    2. Use of symmetry
    3. Contour integration
  3. Conformal Mapping
    1. Theory
    2. Applications
  4. Approximate Methods
    1. Method of steepest descent
    2. The WKB method
    3. Variational method in quantum mechanics
  5. Special Chapters
    1. Elements of group theory
    2. Elements of percolation theory
    3. Non-linear Shrödinger equation (an example)

Learning and Teaching

Learning Activities and Teaching Methods

Description Study time KIS type
20×1-hour lectures 20 hours SLT
2×1-hour problems/revision classes 2 hours SLT
5×6-hour self-study packages 30 hours GIS
4×4-hour problem sets 16 hours GIS
Reading, private study and revision 82 hours GIS


Weight Form Size When ILOS assessed Feedback
0% Guided self-study 5×6-hour packages Fortnightly 1-14 Discussion in class
0% 4 × Problems sets 4 hours per set Fortnightly 1-14 Solutions discussed in problems classes.
100% Final Examination 2 hours 30 minutes January 1-13 Mark via MyExeter, collective feedback via ELE and solutions.


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:


Further Information

Prior Knowledge Requirements

Pre-requisite Modules Mathematics with Physical Applications (PHY2025)
Co-requisite Modules none


Re-assessment is not available except when required by referral or deferral.

Original form of assessment Form of re-assessment ILOs re-assessed Time scale for re-assessment
Whole module Written examination (100%) 1-13 August/September assessment period

Notes: See Physics Assessment Conventions.

KIS Data Summary

Learning activities and teaching methods
SLT - scheduled learning & teaching activities 22 hrs
GIS - guided independent study 128 hrs
PLS - placement/study abroad 0 hrs
Total 150 hrs
Summative assessment
Coursework 0%
Written exams 100%
Practical exams 0%
Total 100%


IoP Accreditation Checklist
  • N/A this is an optional module
Availability unrestricted
Distance learning NO
Keywords Physics; Method; Integrals; Functions; Theory; Expansion; Laurent; Variational; Calculus; Elements; Variable.
Created 01-Oct-10
Revised N/A