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MATH374 Mathematical Physics

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 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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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: Dr Jörg Hennig Dr Florian Beyer

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:
Textbooks are not required.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will demonstrate in-depth understanding of the central concepts and theories.

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Semester 2

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 12:00-12:50 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