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PHSI336 Mathematical Physics

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

This paper presents the foundational 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 MATH 374 paper offered by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. It is taught jointly by staff from both departments.

Paper title Mathematical Physics
Paper code PHSI336
Subject Physics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,004.75

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MATH 203 and 36 300-level PHSI or MATH points
PHSI 334, MATH 374
Recommended Preparation
(PHSI 231 and PHSI 232) and (MATH 262 or COMO 204)
Schedule C
Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Dr Terry Scott
Dr Florian Beyer
Dr Jörg Hennig

Classical Mechanics, John Taylor.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
After completing this paper students will be able to
  • Understand and use the calculus of variations, particularly in the derivation of the Lagrangian formulation of classical mechanics
  • Understand and use the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulations of classical mechanics and how they are related
  • Use the principles of classical mechanics to analyse standard systems, such as two-body central force problems and the rotation of rigid bodies
  • Understand the principles of special relativity and the representation of these principles in the Lorentz Transformation and covariant formalism
  • Solve problems in relativistic mechanics using these principles
  • Understand the introductory ideas of cosmology

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 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
A1 Friday 14:00-14:50 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Friday 14:00-15:50 29, 31, 33