Syllabus for Special Relativity

Speciell relativitetsteori


  • 5 credits
  • Course code: 1FA156
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Physics A1N

    Explanation of codes

    The code indicates the education cycle and in-depth level of the course in relation to other courses within the same main field of study according to the requirements for general degrees:

    First cycle
    G1N: has only upper-secondary level entry requirements
    G1F: has less than 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    G1E: contains specially designed degree project for Higher Education Diploma
    G2F: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    G2E: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements, contains degree project for Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science
    GXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified.

    Second cycle
    A1N: has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    A1F: has second-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    A1E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (60 credits)
    A2E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (120 credits)
    AXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified.

  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with credit (4), Pass with distinction (5)
  • Established: 2014-03-13
  • Established by:
  • Revised: 2018-08-30
  • Revised by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: week 30, 2019
  • Entry requirements: 120 credits with Linear Algebra II and Mechanics III.
  • Responsible department: Department of Physics and Astronomy

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • transform displacements, velocities, momenta, etc. from one inertial frame to another
  • explain and compute doppler shifts, aberrations and other light phenomena
  • determine outcomes of relativistic colissions including Compton scattering
  • explain the concept of the stress-tensor and determine it in different inertial frames
  • write down Maxwell's equations in covariant form
  • solve Maxwell's equations in the vacuum for various situations, including a radiating particle


Lorenz transformations: Minkowski space. Interval, proper time. Rotation group and Lorenz group. 4-vectors. Dirac and Majorana spinors.
Relativistic Mechanics: 4-velocity and 4-momentum. Relativistic particles. 4-force and 4-acceleration. Energy-momentum conservation. Collisions.
Relativistic treatment of electromagnetism: 4-vectors for electric charge and current density, tensor form of electromagnetic fields. Relativistic motion for a point charge in an electromagnetic field. Maxwell's equations in covariant form. Electromagnetic wave equation.


Lectures and tutorials.


Written examination.
In addition there are hand-in problems. Credit points from these are included only in the regular exam and the first regular re-exam. 
If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the disability coordinator of the university.

Other directives

The course may not be included in the same higher education qualifications as 1FA154 Analytical mechanics and special relativity.

Syllabus Revisions

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 30, 2019

  • Rindler, W. Introduction to Special Relativity

    second edition: Oxford University Press,

    Find in the library


  • Minahan, Joseph Joe's Relatively Small Book of Special Relativity

    Institutionen för fysik och astronomi, 2011

    Will be provided at the start of the course.