The University of Southampton

PHYS1015 Motion and Relativity

Module Overview

The first part of the module focuses on Newton’s laws of motion, potentials, conservation of energy, momentum and angular momentum, projectiles, circular motion, gravity and simple harmonic motion including damping. The second part of the module is an introduction to Special Relativity, including time dilation, length contraction, Lorentz transformations, relativistic kinematics and the relation between mass and energy.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this course is to introduce students to both elementary classical mechanics and the basic ideas of Special Relativity.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • To know Newton’s laws of motion, potentials, conservation of energy, momentum and angular momentum, and be able to apply them to projectiles, circular motion, and gravity.
  • To be able to describe simple harmonic motion including damping and be able to apply them to physical systems.
  • To understand the postulates of Special Relativity and their consequences in terms of Time dilation and length contraction.
  • To understand Lorentz transformations, relativistic kinematics and the relation between mass and energy.


- Classical mechanics - Newton’s laws of motion - Conservative forces and potentials - Conservation of Energy and momentum - Projectiles - Circular motion - Angular momentum - Newton’s law of gravitation - Oscillations - Harmonic Oscillator – equation of motion – and solutions - Examples of oscillatory motion - Damping - Q-factors - Relativity - Postulates of Special Relativity - Michelson- Morley experiment - Simultaneity, Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction, time dilation - Lorentz transformations - Relativistic Doppler Effect - Relativistic transformation of velocities - Relativistic momentum and kinetic energy - E=mc^2 and application

Learning and Teaching

Wider reading or practice51
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Follow-up work18
Completion of assessment task17
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

University Physics published by Pearson specially for Southampton University. Copies will be made available to the students through the university bookshop.


Assessment Strategy

Weekly course work will be set and assessed in the normal way, but only the best ‘n-2’ attempts will contribute to the final coursework mark. Here n is the number of course work items issued during that Semester. As an example, if you are set 10 sets of course work across a Semester, the best 8 of those will be counted. In an instance where a student may miss submitting one or two sets of course work, those sets will not be counted. Students will, however, still be required to submit Self Certification forms on time for all excused absences, as you may ultimately end up missing 3+ sets of course work through illness, for example. The submitted Self Certification forms may be considered as evidence for potential Special Considerations requests. In the event that a third (or higher) set of course work is missed, students will be required to go through the Special Considerations procedures in order to request mitigation for that set. Please note that documentary evidence will normally be required before these can be considered.


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 70%
Mid-Semester Test 10%
Problem Sheets 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework marks carried forward %
Exam %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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