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Introduction to Oscillations and Heat

Semester 1

This is a pre-calculus course covering fundamental topics in Oscillations and Heat.



  • Simple Harmonic Motion:
    • Introduction to Hooke's Law and definition of simple harmonic motion.
    • Treatment of light spring-mass system as simple harmonic oscillator.
    • The displacement-time graph for SHM and the application of x =A cos(w t) or x =A sin(w t) to interpret the results.
    • Expressions for velocity, acceleration and period for SHM.
    • Energy considerations and conservation for SHM.
    • The Simple Pendulum.

     HEAT (12 lectures)

  • Temperature and Thermometers:
    • Thermal equilibrium and the Zeroth law of thermodynamics.
    • Thermal expansion.
    • The Gas laws and absolute temperature.
    • The ideal gas law.
    • The ideal gas law in terms of molecules.
    • Avogadro's number.
    • Kinetic theory.
    • Real gases and change of phase.
    • Vapour pressure and humidity.
  • Heat and internal energy.
    • Specific heat capacity. 
    • Latent heat. 
    • Calorimetry.
    • Heat transfer:
    • Conduction, convection and radiation. 
    • First law of  thermodynamics. 
    • First law applied to simple processes including isobaric and      isothermal processes. 

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:

  • State Hooke’s law and apply it to solving problems in simple harmonic motion.
  • Describe how energy is conserved in simple harmonic motion systems
  • Perform mathematical analysis of a simple pendulum system
  • State Zeroth law and describe its implications to thermodynamics
  • Describe the Gas laws and explain their applications in molecules, vapour pressure and humidity.
  • Explain the concepts of “Heat” and “Internal Energy”.
  • Perform quantitative analysis of problems involving specific heat and latent heat
  • Describe the three methods of heat transfer and perform applicable calculations of these quantities
  • Explain the first law of thermodynamics and perform calculations as applied to isobaric and isothermal processes.
  • 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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