Physics (PHYS) 302

Vibrations and Waves (Revision 1)

PHYS 302

Permanently closed, effective April 24, 2018.

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: PHYS 200 or PHYS 204 and PHYS 201 or PHYS 202 and MATH 265, MATH 266, and MATH 365.

PHYS 302 is also available in a non-credential open courseware form. This non-credential course is offered for self-study purposes and may be useful for students who are contemplating enrolling into our 3-credit version. It provides a student with the opportunity to examine the course materials and assess their level of preparedness to take PHYS 302 for credit. Note: Educational support will not be provided for the open courseware version.

Centre: Centre for Science

PHYS 302 is not available for challenge.


PHYS 302: Vibrations and Waves is an intermediate-level course dealing with vibrations and waves in mechanical, electromagnetic, and quantum contexts. The course addresses free vibrations, forced vibrations, and resonance, leading into normal modes of discrete and continuous systems. Wave propagation is covered for several different types of waves, including electromagnetic waves based on the wave equation (alone—without need for Maxwell's equations) and sound. Similarly, the course deals with wave aspects of matter without requiring quantum mechanics as a prerequisite. This online course is built around downloadable video lectures (various formats), supplemented by web links and downloadable course materials.


PHYS 302 comprises the following 15 units.

  • Unit 1: Introduction and Tools
  • Unit 2: Oscillations
  • Unit 3: Forced Oscillations
  • Unit 4: Forced Vibrations and Resonance
  • Unit 5: Normal Modes
  • Unit 6: Driven Coupled Systems
  • Unit 7: Wave Equation
  • Unit 8: Waves
  • Unit 9: Bounded Waves
  • Unit 10: Fourier Techniques
  • Unit 11: Dispersive Waves
  • Unit 12: Spatial Combination of Waves I
  • Unit 13: Spatial Combination of Waves II
  • Unit 14: Doppler Effect
  • Unit 15: Resonant Cavities


To receive credit for PHYS 302, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least a “D” (50 percent). You must also achieve a minimum grade of 50 percent on each examination and must submit all three assignments. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Assignment 3 Midterm Exam Final Exam Total
12% 12% 12% 29% 35% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


French, A. P. Vibrations and Waves. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1971.

Other materials

Most of the course materials for PHYS 302 are available online through the myAU portal. This course also makes use of open courseware from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which can be found online or on the DVD included in your course materials.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, October 1, 2010.

View previous syllabus