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Department of Mathematics & Statistics

MATH374 Mathematical Physics

Second Semester
18 points

Paper details

This paper presents the foundation theory for two major topics in Physics. The Classical Mechanics section introduces the formal framework of classical mechanics and illustrates its application to two-body problems, rotating systems, collisions and chaos. The Special Relativity and Cosmology section covers the special theory of relativity with applications to relativistic mechanics as well as an introduction to cosmology.

Note that this paper is the same as the PHSI336 paper offered by the Physics Department. It is taught jointly by staff from both Departments.

Potential students

The paper addresses students who are interested in the mathematical foundations of physical theories. This includes Maths students, interested in applications and Physics students interested in the formal underpinnings of Physics.


MATH203 and 36 300-level MATH or PHSI points


PHSI334, PHSI336


First half: Dr. Terry Scott

Second half: Dr Jörg Hennig (Room 215), Dr Florian Beyer (Room 218)


Tuesday and Thursday at 12.00 noon

Wednesday at 11.00am (PX314).


First half: See the Physics web page

Second half: 1 hour per week: Fridays at 2-3.


See the resource webpage.

Internal Assessment

First half: See the Physics web page

Second half: weekly assignments

Exam format

3 hour final exam

For other details see the Physics web page

Final mark

Your final mark F in the paper will be calculated according to this formula:

F = 0.6E + 0.35A + 0.05W


and all quantities are expressed as percentages.

Minimum exam score: To pass this paper you are required to obtain at least 30% in the final examination.

Students must abide by the University’s Academic Integrity Policy

Academic endeavours at the University of Otago are built upon an essential commitment to academic integrity.

The two most common forms of academic misconduct are plagiarism and unauthorised collaboration.

Academic misconduct: Plagiarism

Plagiarism is defined as:

  • Copying or paraphrasing another person’s work and presenting it as your own.
  • Being party to someone else’s plagiarism by letting them copy your work or helping them to copy the work of someone else without acknowledgement.
  • Using your own work in another situation, such as for the assessment of a different paper or program, without indicating the source.
  • Plagiarism can be unintentional or intentional. Even if it is unintentional, it is still considered to be plagiarism.

All students have a responsibility to be aware of acceptable academic practice in relation to the use of material prepared by others and are expected to take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure no breach of acceptable academic practice occurs. You should also be aware that plagiarism is easy to detect and the University has policies in place to deal with it.

Academic misconduct: Unauthorised Collaboration

Unauthorised Collaboration occurs when you work with, or share work with, others on an assessment which is designed as a task for individuals and in which individual answers are required. This form does not include assessment tasks where students are required or permitted to present their results as collaborative work. Nor does it preclude collaborative effort in research or study for assignments, tests or examinations; but unless it is explicitly stated otherwise, each student’s answers should be in their own words. If you are not sure if collaboration is allowed, check with your lecturer.

Further information

While we strive to keep details as accurate and up-to-date as possible, information given here should be regarded as provisional. Individual lecturers will confirm teaching and assessment methods.