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Before choosing course

This is a web-based course that provides an introduction to the theory of relativity, which describes the dramatic way in which everyday concepts such as length, time and energy change when traveling at very high speeds, close to the speed of light. As an example, we will study how objects seem to shrink when they move close to the speed of light. Furthermore, we treat other known consequences of the theory of relativity such as the twin paradox, which deals with how the age of two twins is affected by one making a space trip at a very high speed. We will also derive the most famous equation in physics: E = mc2, which describes the relationship between energy and mass. During the course you will see examples that the theory of relativity is not only an abstract theory. It is essential in the construction of modern particle accelerators, and even the modern navigation system GPS relies on the theory of relativity.​

Choose semester and course offering

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

* Retrieved from Course syllabus SI150V (Autumn 2018–)

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

Translations and simple rotations, the notion of invariance in physics, the definition of space and time in Newtonian mechanics, Galileiinvarians, addition of velocitites in Newtonian mechanics, the concepts of inertial and rest frames of reference, Lorentz time transformation, the nature of light and speed, the Michelson-Morley experiment and Lorentzcontractionen, simultaneity, length contraction,  the twin paradox, relativistic kinematics and relativistic reactions.

Intended learning outcomes

After completing the course you should be familiar with basic concepts in both the theory of relativity and the mechanics prior to Einstein, for example, invariance and symmetry, observers and reference frames. You should have gained insight into the contradictions between the Newtonian mechanics and Maxwell's equations that led to the revolution of relativity. You should be able to transform time and space between observer that move relative to each other and realize how these transformations lead to length contraction and tidsdiltation. Realize the connection between mass and energy to have insight in  how relativistic phenomena are exploited in technological applications.

Course Disposition

Internet based distance learning with interactive problems and examination. Contact with teachers through a web interface.

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

General requirements: Completed upper secondary education including documented proficiency in Swedish corresponding to Swedish 3/Swedish B  and English corresponding to English 6/English A . Specific requirements: knowledge of Mathematics corresponding to Mathematics 3C/D and Physics corresponding to Physics 2/B  is required.

Recommended prerequisites

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Webbaserat studiematerial, finns på kursens hemsidor.

Examination and completion

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

Grading scale

P, F


  • INL1 - Assignment, 1,5 hp, betygsskala: P, F
  • INL2 - Assignment, 1,5 hp, betygsskala: P, F
  • INL3 - Assignment, 1,5 hp, betygsskala: P, 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.

Other requirements for final grade

Three completed sets of problems.

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Profile picture Patrik Henelius

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 SI150V

Offered by

SCI/Undergraduate Physics

Main field of study

Physics, Technology

Education cycle

First cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted

Supplementary information

The course is an distance course and is applied for via for both program students and external students who wants to read the course.