Waves and Optics

5 credits

Syllabus, Bachelor's level, 1FA522

Education cycle
First cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Physics G2F
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with credit (4), Pass with distinction (5)
Finalised by
The Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 20 October 2022
Responsible department
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Entry requirements

60 credits in science/engineering. One of the courses Mechanics II, Electrical Power Transmission Systems, Mechanics KF, Applied Mechanics I. Participation in Electromagnetism I or Electromagnetism or Basics of Electrical Engineering III: Field Theory. These courses can also be taken in parallel.

Learning outcomes

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

  • account for fundamental quantities for waves and optics.
  • identify, illustrate and explain physical concepts in waves and optics.
  • describe and discuss technical applications of simple optical instruments.
  • solve problems using suitable models, assumptions and approximations as well as be able to assess the results.
  • plan and conduct simple experiments and give an oral and a written presentation of the results.


Mechanical/acoustical waves: wave functions, the wave equation, superposition, standing waves, beats, mechanical waves in different media, Doppler effect.

Electromagnetic waves and optics: Maxwell's equations, wave functions for plane waves, wave equations for E- and B-fields for propagating waves. The propagation of electromagnetic waves with reflection, refraction, dispersion, and phase velocity.

Optical phenomena such as polarisation, birefringence, coherence, interference and Fraunhofer diffraction. Examples of radiation sources and the interaction between radiation and the Earth's atmosphere.

Geometrical optics: Reflection in spherical surfaces, calculations of beam paths in thin lenses. Overview of optical instruments.

Laboratory exercises in polarisation, wave optics and ray optics.


Lectures, exercise groups, laboratory exercises (attendance is mandatory), and project assignments. The course makes use of subject integrated communication training with feedback and self evaluation.


Written examination at the end of the course (4 credits ). Laboratory exercises with written and oral reports (1 credit).

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.