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SH1012 Modern Physics 8.0 credits

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Choose semester and course offering to see information from the correct course syllabus and course offering.

Headings with content from the Course syllabus SH1012 (Spring 2012–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

The experimental foundations of modern physics: Elementary relativity theory. The Michelson-Morely experiment. Einstein's theory of special relativity. Length contraction. Time dialation. Elementary quantum physics. Planck's radiation law. X-ray radiation and spectra. Rutherford's atomic model. Atomic structure. Bohr's atomic model. Atomic energy levels. Nuclear structure. Radioactive decay. Matter waves. Wave packets and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Wave-particle duality.

Quantum mechanics: the foundations of quantum mechanics. Introduction to operators. The Schrödinger equation applied to simple potentials. Interpretation of wave functions. Plane wave solutions. The harmonic oscillator. Angular momentum and spin. The hydrogen atom and the periodic table. The Pauli principle.

Applications to physical phenomena: (including) the photoelectric effect, the Compton effect, X-ray diffraction, particle diffraction, the Stark effect, the Zeeman effect. Applications within science and technology (including) tunneling, the tunneling electron microscope, the Stern-Gerlach experiment, the atomic nucleus, the helium atom, simple molecules. The building blocks of matter: particles and their interactions.

Intended learning outcomes

After completing this course a student should be able to:

  • Explain the scientific basis of modern physics, as defined by the course syllabus.  
  • Set up and perform relativistic calculations for simple cases and quantum mechanical calculations on simple systems
  • Apply quantum mechanical principles to scientific and technical applications
  • Report on practical experience concerning experimental methods within modern physics
  • Complete a simple research project with a modern physics focus as part of a small group

Course disposition

No information inserted

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Courses in physics (or equivalent): SI1121, SK1102, SI1140; courses in mathematics (or equivalent): SF1604, SF1602, SF1603, SF1901; courses in mechanics (or equivalent): SG1130.

Recommended prerequisites

Courses in physics (or equivalent): SI1121, SK1102, SI1140; courses in mathematics (or equivalent): SF1604, SF1602, SF1603, SF1901; courses in mechanics (or equivalent): SG1130.


No information inserted


Modern Physics, Randy Harris. Pearson / Addison-Wesley.

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • LAB1 - Laboratories, 1.0 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • PRO1 - Project, 1.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • TEN1 - Examination, 5.5 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Written examination (5.5 hp)

Laboratory exercises with written reports (1 hp)

Project work (1.5 hp)

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

No information inserted

Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination



Profile picture Ayse Nyberg

Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web SH1012

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Main field of study


Education cycle

First cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted


Ayse Nyberg