Student Pages
Postgraduate course

Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codePHYS204
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Main content

Teaching semester


Objectives and Content

The course aims to give an understanding of the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of classical mechanics as well as their application to both-non-relativitistic and relativistic systems. The course provides a rigorous introduction to special relativity. Topics include the central-force problem, rigid body motion, relativistic electrodynamics, as well as non-linear dynamics and chaos. The importance of symmetries for finding conserved quantities is emphasized. The lecture provides fundamental knowledge relevant for a variety of topics such as statistical physics, quantum mechanics, field theory, and general relativity.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course

the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • can explain and compare the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of classical mechanics
  • can derive Kepler's laws
  • can explain the fundamental concepts of special relativity and how to perform Lorentz transformations
  • is framiliar with the relativistic notation for 4-vectors and tensors
  • can explain the emergence of chaos in dynamical systems


The student

  • is able to determine the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian functons for a physical systems
  • is able to derive the equations of motion from these functions
  • is able to solve the equations of motion for simple systems
  • can determine the moments of inertia of a rigid body
  • is able to identify symmetries and to derive the corresponding conservation laws
  • is able to perform calculations using relativistic kinematics and conservation laws

General competence

The student

  • knows how to model physical systems in terms of abstract quantities
  • can hypothesize the solution of a problem qualitatively without performing a detailed calculation
  • is comfortable presenting calculations to peers

Required Previous Knowledge


Recommended Previous Knowledge

PHYS118 and PHYS118

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap


Access to the Course

Access to the course equires admission to a programme of study at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching methods are lectures and tutorials.

Lectures / 4 hours per week

Tutorials / 2 hours per week

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Two assignments. Valid for 6 subsequent semester.

Forms of Assessment

The forms of assessment are: Written exam.

Examination Support Material

Examination support materials: Non- programmable calculator, according to model listed in faculty regulations. In addition the student can bring 5 A4 pages with own written notes and mathematic table of formulae.

Grading Scale

The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.

Assessment Semester

Examination both spring semester and autumn semester. In semester without teaching the examination will be arranged at the beginning of the semester.

Reading List

The reading list will be available within June 1st for the autumn semester and December 1st for the spring semester.

Course Evaluation

The course will be evaluated by the stdents in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the department.

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.

Course Administrator

The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and Department of Physics and Technology are administratively responsible for the course.

Contact Information

Exam information

  • For written exams, please note that the start time may change from 09:00 to 15:00 or vice versa until 14 days prior to the exam.

  • Type of assessment: Written examination

    08.06.2023, 09:00
    5 hours
    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam