66682 - Physics

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows the meaning of the main quantities of classical physics, their units and relative relations. The student knows the concepts of measurement uncertainty and error propagation, the mechanics of single points and of composite systems, the elementary theory of classical electromagnetism in vacuum and in matter. The student has also basic knowledge of geometric and wave optics.

Course contents


Trigonometry: angles in radiant, harmonic functions and their combinations.

Analysis: limits, derivatives, Taylor series. Functions of multiple variables, partial derivatives. Differential calculus of vectors: vector derivatives, gradient of a function. Integral calculus of real functions and of vectors. Path integral and flux of vector fields.


Dimensional formulae and physical units, analysis and propagation of experimental uncertainties. Scalar and vector quantities.

Kinematics of a point mass, kinematic quantities and special motion: uniform, uniformly accelerated, uniform circular and harmonic motion.

Dynamics of a point mass, equations of dynamics. Work, conservative forces and potential energy. Conservation laws for momentum and mechanical energy. Collisions of point masses. Kinematics of extended bodies, dynamics and equations of motion. Rotating bodies, moment of inertia and torque of a force, angular momentum. Equilibrium.

Electrostatics, Coulomb force and electric field. Electrostatic potential and potential energy. Conductors and insulators, polarizability and dielectric constants. Electric currents, Ohm's law and Joule effect. Basic electric circuits.

Magnetostatic, time-independent magnetic fields generated by electric currents. Magnetic induction. Lorentz force on moving charges.

Time-dependent electric and magnetic fields. Maxwell equations and electromagnetic waves.

Geometrical optics: Snell laws, light propagation in presence of spherical mirrors and thin lenses. Wave optics: interference and diffraction of light, diffraction gratings.


D.Halliday, R.Resnick, J.Walker, "Fundamentals of Physics", Wiley

R. A. Serway, J. W. Jewett Jr., "Principles of Physics: A Calculus-Based Text", Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning, 2013

Teaching methods

Lectures and classroom exercises.

Assessment methods

The knowledge of the course topics will be verified by means of a written test with exercises at a level of difficulty similar to those in the textbook and to those solved during lectures. The written test duration is 3 hours.

A grade equal or higher than 15 is required to pass the written test. Students with a grade equal or higher than 24 may ask to confirm the grade as final, waiving the oral test.

Two partial written tests will take place: the first at mid course, regarding mechanics, the second at the end, regarding electromagnetism. The duration of each is 3 hoursStudents with an average grade equal or higher than 18 may ask to confirm the grade as final, waiving the oral test.

The oral test will feature exercises and more theoretical questions.

Teaching tools

Blackboard, projector, pc, auxiliary material available on the web.

Office hours

See the website of Francesco Minardi