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Introduction to Mechanics

Semester 1

This is a pre-calculus course covering fundamental topics in Mechanics.


Mechanics (18 Lectures):

  • Physical Quantities and Units
    • Physical quantities and their units with mass, length, time and temperature as fundamental (base) quantities.
    • The nature of the physical quantities:
    • Scalars and vectors, components of a vector, addition and subtraction of vectors by means of components.
  • Kinematics in One Dimension:
    • Definitions in displacement, speed (average and instantaneous), velocity (average and instantaneous), acceleration (average and instantaneous).
    • Displacement-time and velocity-time graphs.
    • Graphical interpretation of velocity and acceleration.
    • Distance travelled as area under the velocity-time graph.
    • Derivation of kinematic equations for constant acceleration and their application to solving problems.
  • Projectile Motion:
    • Introduction to projectile motion as a combination of two one-dimensional motions.
    • Derivative of range, maximum height and time of flight.
    • Derivation of the equation for a parabolic path.
    • Application of the equations for projectile motion.
    • Forces & Newton's Laws of Motions;
    • Concepts of force, mass and inertia.
    • Statement of Newton's Laws. Vector nature of Newton's Second Law of Motion (Σ Fx = max , ΣFy =may ).
  • Types of Forces:
    • Static and kinetic frictional forces.
    • Tension.
    • Gravitational forces.
    • Newton's laws of gravitation.
    • Moment of a force.
    • Equilibrium and conditions for equilibrium.
    • Forces on an object immersed in a fluid.
    • Pressure and upthrust.
    • Archimedes' principle and its derivation using a cubical object.
    • Simple battery hydrometer.
    • Viscosity.
    • Statement of Stokes' law and the concept of terminal velocity.
  • Dynamics of Uniform Circular Motion:
    • Introduction to the concept of centripetal acceleration and force.
    • Centripetal force and motion around a curve.
    • Satellites in circular orbits.
  • Work and Energy:
    • Concepts of work and power.
    • Kinetic and potential energies.
    • Work-Energy Theorem.
    • Definition of conservation of force.
    • The principle of conservation of mechanical energy.
    • Concepts of energy conversion and applications with special references to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and wave.
  • Impulse and Momentum:
  • Definition of impulse and linear momentum.
  • Impulse-Momentum theorem.
  • The principle of conservation of linear momentum including the derivation using the impulse-momentum theorem.
  • Application to collisions.

One 2-hour theory examination paper                                                60%

Two 1-hour in-course tests (15% each)                                               30%

Laboratory work (average of 6 labs at 10% each)                              10%

Learning Objectives: 

After completing this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe the basic units on measurements for mass, length, time, temperature, and distinguish between scalar and vector quantities.
  • Perform calculations to determine distance, velocity and acceleration in one dimension.
  • Derive and apply the equations for an object travelling along a parabolic path.
  • State Newton’s Laws of motion and apply them to motion in one –dimension.
  • Describe the types of forces and perform one dimensional mathematical analyses of their occurrences.
  • Describe the dynamics of circular motion
  • Define the conservation of forces and explain the concepts of energy conversion
  • Describe the principle of conservation of linear momentum and its application to collisions.
  • Perform and interpret the results of simple experiments and demonstrations of physical principles.
CXC/CSEC Physics or GCE "O"-Level Physics

Required Textbook:

Cutnell, and Johnson; “Physics ”; 8th Edition, 2009. ISBN 978-0-470-22355-0

Internet Sources: 

  1. An online suite of resources:
  2. Self-assessment:
  3. Online lectures:
  4. Online tutorials:
Course Code: 
3 Credits
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