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MATH374 Mathematical Physics

2021 information for papers will be published in early September. 

Techniques and applications of classical mechanics: calculus of variations, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations. The special theory of relativity and applications: relativistic mechanics, electrodynamics in covariant form. Cosmology.

This paper presents the foundation theory for two major topics in Physics. The Classical Mechanics section introduces the formal framework of Classical Mechanics and illustrates its application to two-body problems, oscillating systems and non-inertial frames such as rotating systems. The Special Relativity and Cosmology section covers the special theory of relativity with applications to relativistic mechanics as well as an introduction to cosmology.

This paper is the same as the PHSI336 paper offered by the Physics Department. It is taught jointly by staff from both Departments.

Paper title Mathematical Physics
Paper code MATH374
Subject Mathematics
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $904.05
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,954.75

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MATH 203 and 36 300-level MATH or PHSI points
PHSI 334, PHSI 336
Recommended Preparation
COMO 204 and PHSI 231 and PHSI 232
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
The paper addresses students who are interested in the mathematical foundations of physical theories. This includes Maths students interested in applications and Physics students interested in the formal underpinnings of Physics.
Teaching staff

First half: Dr Terry Scott
Second half: Professor Jörg Frauendiener

Paper Structure
Paper Structure: Main topics
  • First half: Techniques and applications of classical mechanics: calculus of variations, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations
  • Second half: The special theory of relativity: aberration, relativistic mechanics. Cosmology: cosmological principle, evolution of the universe.
Teaching Arrangements
  • Three 1-hour lectures per week. 
  • A 2-hour workshop on alternate week for the first six weeks of the semester, then a 1-hour tutorial every week for the last six weeks of the semester
First half: Classical Mechanics by Taylor.

Second half: Text books are not required.
Course outline
View course outline for MATH 374
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Demonstrate in-depth understanding of the central concepts and theories.

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 12:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
Thursday 12:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
T1 Friday 14:00-14:50 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
W1 Friday 14:00-15:50 29, 31, 33