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PHSI343 Waves in Physical Systems

A general introduction to the physics of wave motion with applications to various physical systems. The principle of superposition, interference and diffraction, boundary and continuity conditions, Fourier series and transforms.

Paper title Waves in Physical Systems
Paper code PHSI343
Subject Physics
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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(MATH 160 or MATH 170) and (36 200-level PHSI points or (18 200-level PHSI points and 18 200-level MATH points))
Recommended Preparation
MATH 170
Schedule C

Teaching staff

Dr Tim Molteno
Associate Professor Colin Fox


Tim Freegarde: Introduction to the Physics of Waves (Cambridge University Press).

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Apply fundamental mathematical concepts to analyse wave motion in a various physical system.
  • Qualitatively describe interference and diffraction effects using the Huygens wavefront principle. Quantitatively evaluate interference and diffraction patterns.
  • Utilize appropriate boundary and continuity conditions to solve simple problems of reflection and transmission at interfaces between different media.
  • Understand the representation of waves in frequency space. Use Fourier series to transform between time and frequency domains to extract physical information.
  • Identify physical systems where wave motion can occur. Formulate and solve an appropriate wave equation.
  • Present written, logical, and clear solutions to problems in wave motion.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 13:00-13:50 9-14, 16-22
Thursday 13:00-13:50 9-14, 16-22
Friday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 16-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 10:00-10:50 9-14, 16, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Friday 09:00-10:50 9-13, 16-22