Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

PHYS3007 Theories of Matter, Space and Time

Module Overview

Variational methods in classical physics will be reviewed and the extension of these ideas in quantum mechanics will be introduced.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand 4-vector notation and be able to perform dynamics and electro dynamics calculations using them
  • Understand the differential form of Maxwell's equations and be able to derive the wave equation in free space for light
  • Understand the use of variational methods in a variety of problems including Newtonian dynamics.


- Principles of Least Action Calculus of variation: the Euler-Lagrange equations - Fermat's Principle of least time: light in vacuum and in media - Lagrangian dynamics and examples - First integrals - Special Relativity Postulates - Lorentz transformations as generalized rotations - 4-vectors and index conventions - Proper time and definitions of rel. ìu, au, pu and derivation of E = mc2 - Eqns of relativistic dynamics and 4-momentum conservation. E.g. Compton effect, Doppler effect, particle decay - Electromagnetism - Maxwell's equations in differential form - Wave equations in free space - Potential, Vector Potential and Laplace's equation - Gauge transformations 4-vector current, 4-vector potential and - Relativistic formulation of Maxwell's equations - Field strength tensor and its Lorentz transformation - Aspects of Quantum Mechanics - Momentum space wave functions - Completeness and orthogonality - Feynman's Path Integral Formulation of Quantum Mechanics - a derivation of the free particle kernel in one dimension, - its application to barrier problems - the connection with the usual Schrodinger equation - Klein-Gordon equation, interpretation of negative energy states

Learning and Teaching

Completion of assessment task8
Wider reading or practice72
Preparation for scheduled sessions15
Follow-up work15
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

All 3 sheets count for the purposes of assessment, and mitigation for missed modules requires students to make a request to the Special Considerations Board in the usual way.


MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 10%
Final Assessment  90%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: PHYS2001 AND PHYS2003 AND PHYS2006 AND PHYS2023

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings