USQ LogoCourse specification
The current and official versions of the course specifications are available on the web at //
Please consult the web for updates that may occur during the year.

PHY3303 Modern Physics

Semester 1, 2016 External
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Agric, Comp and Environ Sciences
Student contribution band : Band 2
ASCED code : 010301 - Physics

Contents on this page


Examiner: Alfio Parisi

Other requisites

It is recommended that students first complete 2nd level physics courses prior to study.


Physics is about the fundamental laws governing our universe of matter, energy, space and time. "Classical physics" is typically considered to cover mechanics, acoustics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism and (classical) optics, whereas "modern physics" encompasses relativity and the quantum mechanics of matter and light. Modern physics is the science behind most of today's pure and applied research frontiers of physics; pure research is providing the most profound insight into the nature of matter and the universe as a whole, while applied research has given us electronic computers, mobile phones, and advanced medical technology, as well as the promise of cost-effective solar panels and massively parallel quantum computers. A course on modern physics can enable those pursuing a career as a scientist, science educator and other professionals to understand current major questions in physics research. Such a course can also inform students of how modern physics helps us deliver, manage and improve advanced technology for tackling the grand environmental, health and security challenges facing our world.


Modern physics covers the extraordinary developments in physics that have taken place over the last century or so (and which promise to continue, thanks to the search for a unified theory of everything and the discovery of an expanding universe). This course covers special and general relativity, the quantum description of light and matter, and quantum and statistical mechanics. Also covered are topics on atoms, molecules, solids, and nuclear and particle physics, and a concluding online section on modern cosmology. The theory in this course is supported by practice with relevant problem solving, and experiments. There is a three day residential school for this course.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Discuss key fundamental concepts in relativity theory;
  2. Understand the conceptual basis of quantum theory;
  3. Discuss the diverse applications of quantum theory;
  4. Solve problems in modern physics topics;
  5. Conduct and interpret experiments in modern physics.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Relativity 20.00
2. Quantum theory 20.00
3. Applications of quantum theory 20.00
4. Experimental modern physics 40.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Practical Manual for PHY3303 Modern Physics, (USQ Physics: Toowoomba).
  • Serway, Moses & Moyer 2005, Modern Physics, 3rd edn, BROOKS/COLE CENGAGE Learning, ISBN-10: 0534493394, ISBN-13: 9780534493394.
  • Introductory/Study Book for PHY3303 Modern Physics, (USQ Publications:Toowoomba).

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assignments 24.00
Directed Study 37.00
Examinations 2.00
Private Study 83.00
Residential Schools 24.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
REPORT 1 20 20 26 Apr 2016
REPORT 2 20 20 23 May 2016
Assignment 10 10 02 Jun 2016
2 HOUR RESTRICTED EXAM 50 50 End S1 (see note 1)

  1. Examination dates will be available during the Semester.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures and tutorials) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To complete each assignment satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the marks available for them. To complete the report, students must attend the 3 day residential school in the mid semester break and obtain 50% of the total marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    Candidates are allowed access only to specific materials during a Restricted Examination. The only materials that candidates may use in the restricted examination for this course are: writing materials (non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination); calculators which cannot hold textual information (students must indicate on their examination paper the make and model of any calculator(s) they use during the examination).

    Students whose first language is not English, may, take an appropriate unmarked nonelectronic
    translation dictionary (but not technical dictionary) into the examination.
    Dictionaries with any handwritten notes will not be permitted. Translation dictionaries will
    be subject to perusal and may be removed from the candidate?s possession until appropriate
    disciplinary action is completed if found to contain material that could give the candidate an
    unfair advantage.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for assignments is the date by which a student must despatch an assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the students to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within 48 hours if required by the Examiner.

  2. Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide. //

  3. Attendance at the residential school is essential in order to complete the assessment item of the report.