Modern Optics

University of Newcastle

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Modern Optics

  • Host University

    University of Newcastle

  • Location

    Newcastle, Australia

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Assumed knowledge
    PHYS1210, PHYS1220 and MATH1120 (or MATH1220)

    Hours & Credits

  • Host University Units

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Optics is one of the cornerstones of physics and is at the heart of all modern imaging and communications technologies. This course provides students with an understanding of optical phenomena based on the wave description of light. The principles of polarization, interference and diffraction will be fully developed and optical devices that use these properties of light will be described. The application of Fourier analysis to describe optical systems will be given.


    Learning outcomes
    On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

    1. Describe the optical principles of thick lenses and optical aberrations.

    2. Use the principles of wave motion and superposition to explain the physics of polarisation, interference and diffraction.

    3. Describe the operation of optical devices, including, polarisers, retarders, modulators and inteferometers.

    4. Apply Fourier analysis to describe optical phenomena.

    5. Solve problems in optics by selecting the appropriate equations and performing numerical or analytical calculations.

    6. Follow instructions to perform laboratory experiments in optics and document their results, using correct procedures and protocols.

    7. Analyse, interpret and communicate results from laboratory experiments, orally or in a written laboratory report.


    The interaction of light with materials.

    • propagation
    • reflection
    • refraction

    The Superposition of Waves

    • waves of the same frequency
    • waves of different frequency
    • anharmonic waves


    • mathematical descriptions of polarised light
    • generating polarised light
    • optical devices using polarisation


    • wavefront splitting interferometers
    • amplitude splitting interferometers
    • multiple beam intereference


    • Fraunhofer diffraction
    • Fresnel diffraction
    • Fourier Optics


    Contact hours
    Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for 9 Weeks

    9 weeks includes Introductory Lab session. An integrated learning approach will be taken in the lectures and laboratories.

    Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

    Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term starting in week 1

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.