Year 2 Modules

Below are some module reviews for the second year modules. There are a few more optional modules in the second year, and there are more 'unusual' modules you can take, such as languages modules. Languages modules are very difficult to get high marks in, but are great if you're really passionate about learning a new language, or furthering your existing knowledge. The core modules in Year 2 are quantum, electromagnetic theory, thermal, and mathematical methods, as well as labs.  Next to the module name is the year that the module was taken.

PX262: Quantum Mechanics and it’s Applications, 2020-2021

This is the second year quantum mechanics module and for me this was the most intimidating module, but also the most interesting and probably my favourite module. Builds up from the stuff learnt in the first year quantum module and goes into way more detail. Gavin lectures Term 1, and Julie lectures Term 2. Gavin’s material was in the form of a Moodle book and mini-lectures each week (thanks to online learning), but it was a really effective way of learning and I personally found his content more interesting than Julie’s.

Term 1 is a lot of formal quantum mechanics, and recapping previously seen stuff, so there’s quite a lot of maths and new concepts to get your head around. Term 2 was lectured only with online lectures, and the content is relatively straightforward, but it’s quite a lot of condensed matter physics, which I find quite boring – that’s just me though! The module is assessed with 15% online Moodle quizzes which weren’t too difficult, and 85% exam. In general, just do all the problem sheets and the past papers, and if there are any topics that you find confusing (trust me, there will be), find a QM textbook in the library and have a quick read.

PX263: Electromagnetic Theory and Optics, 2020-2021

This was another intimidating module, but it’s lectured extremely well and the written notes that go along with the lectures are amazing. Nicholas lectured this year and his videos were top notch; nice explanations, nice layout, and decent length. The written notes are excellent and go well beyond the scope of the course. This module is assessed similarly to Quantum Mechanics, in that 15% is assessed with online Moodle quizzes (again, they weren’t too difficult), and 85% in the exam. For this, you need lots of vector identities and vector calculus, so make sure you’re up to date on that.

PX264: Physics of Fluids, 2020-2021

Fluids was such a great module, Tony is a brilliant lecturer. The lecture material seems really quite difficult but the exam papers aren’t nearly as bad. The problem sheets are handy for revision, and Tony does lots of recapping so you can stay caught up with everything really easily. At the end of the module, he also gives you a full set of equations and explains everything nicely. Fluids is assessed completely through the exam, and it was overall a great module!


PX265: Thermal Physics II, 2020-2021

Thermal Physics II concentrates on statistical mechanics and a little bit of thermodynamics. Stat mech seems quite daunting to most people but you’ll do this module in term 2, and by that time you’ll have finished term 1 quantum, and I think this really helped me understand stat mech more. There are a few similarities between them, i.e., measurements are probabilistic rather than deterministic, and there’s lots of simple harmonic oscillators used in thermal. I really liked the lectures, and the problem sheets and written notes are amazing, really good module overall. Papers can be a bit tricky but if you do all the problems and past exams you’ll be set. Also, 15% of the module is made up of online Moodle quizzes, which were a bit tricky, but a nice way to grab a few guaranteed marks! The rest is made up from the exam.

PX267: Hamiltonian Mechanics, 2020-2021

Hamiltonian was quite an intimidating module; everyone says you need to be amazing at maths for it and etc. but overall I really enjoyed it. It was a term 1 module, so come exam time, you’ll probably want to leave yourself a bit of extra time to prepare for it, since you’ll need to recap more. It is true that you need a fair bit of maths for this module, but it’s not too difficult, lots of differentiation, coordinate systems and algebra (I think there are a couple of amazing revision guides for those first two). This module is assessed completely through the exam, but the past papers weren’t too bad, and there are loads of practice problem sheets to do.

PX275: Mathematical Methods for Physicists, 2020-2021

The second year maths module was quite a tough module overall, but was still interesting and completely necessary for literally every other module. You do lots of vector calculus, multivariable calculus, partial differential equations, Fourier transforms, and you’ll use all of these techniques all the time throughout your degree. Lectures were good for both terms, and the lecturers are really helpful. This module is assessed 20% through coursework (homework and Moodle quizzes), and 80% through the exam. The homework and Moodle quizzes can be a really good way to get easy marks, and take a bit of pressure off the final exam. The final exam can be quite tricky, this is probably the only module where I’d recommend trying questions from a textbook, as well as using the problem sheets and past papers. Riley, Hobson and Bence is the best book possible for this, I’d recommend doing problems from the sections that you feel weakest in (this was multivariable calculus for me).

PX277: Computational Physics, 2020-2021

I liked this module, because it is all coursework and you can grab some nice marks here. This is the second year python module and is made up of 20% of Coderunner assignments (like in the first year), and the rest from Jupyter Notebooks. The latter will probably be completely new to everyone, but essentially, they’re long problems that you have to write a long program to solve. Lots of equation solving, and lots of graph plotting here. It’s not too difficult, the main things I recommend are to actually watch the lectures (I thought I’d get away without watching them), read the lecture notes well, and DO NOT leave the Jupyter assignments to the last minute. I think I wrote like 150 lines of python for one of the assignments, and you don’t want to be doing that right up to the end!

PX280: Environmental Physics, 2020-2021

Environmental was a new module for our year, and it is a combination of an old module, electrical power generation (EPG), and some new content about the environment and the climate. You do the EPG section in term 1 and the rest in term 2. EPG stuff is quite simple, you should have seen a fair part of it from A-Levels, but there are some new derivations and new equations that you’ll need to get your head around. The term 2 content is interesting; talks about climate models, global warming, and radiation. It’s assessed completely through the exam, and it might be a bit trickier to prepare for, only because of the lack of past papers for this module. I’d recommend doing the EPG papers (they should still be up on the Warwick Past Papers site), and doing all of the term 2 practice problems.