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Key information

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Module description


Learning aims & outcomes

The course introduces some of the governing principles used to model, understand and solve problems in optics. In this course students should gain a greater understanding of what is light and how it interacts with different media. We will cover wave motion, electromagnetic theory, the propagation of light, geometrical optics, superposition of waves, polarization, interference and diffraction, as well as nonlinear optics. Common applications, such as lasers, will be discussed throughout.


  • Wave-optical treatment of refraction, reflection, and interference 
  • Scalar wave approach to diffraction: the Fraunhofer and Fresnel approximations 
  • Application to apertures and gratings
  • The Fourier transforming properties of a lens 
  • Imaging with coherent and incoherent illumination
  • The concept of resolution and transfer functions
  • Nonlinear optics


Assessment details

Please note that students who are in attendance for Semester 1 only can expect to be set alternative assessment before their return to their home institution. Further information will be provided by your lecturer.