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Classical Mechanics b


Admission Requirements

Classical Mechanics a, Introduction to Modern Physics, Electrical and Magnetic Fields, Analysis 1,2 (na) and Linear Algebra 1 (na). The students need to follow the lectures Analysis 3(na) in parallel, unless the material is already known.


The description of the laws of classical mechanics of Newton are given a more general and more fundamental form in the Lagrange and Hamilton formalisms. This description makes the theory more elegant and more broadly useful. In this form the theory prepares the scene for the treatment of Quantum mechanics.
Subjects to be discussed are: Generalized coordinates; phase space; constraints; Lagrangian and Lagrange’s equations; conservation laws; Hamiltonian and Hamilton’s equations; Hamilton’s principle (principle of least action).
The power of the formalism is illustrated by a second main topic: the analysis of systems of coupled harmonic oscillators. This is a subject of great importance, and examples of problems range from physics, to chemistry, engineering, etc.

Course objectives

After completing this course the student has gained insight into the importance of the Lagragnge and Hamilton formalism, and into the role of coupled harmonic oscillators in physics. The student is capable of solving problems using the Lagrange and Hamilton formalisms, and problems involving systems of coupled harmonic oscillators.


For detailed information go to Timetable in Brightspace

Mode of instruction

See Brightspace
Detailed lecture notes are provided, and you are expected to prepare for each lecture by reading the materal (about 8 pages per week).

The lectures are offered on-site, unless new Covid restrictions apply.

Exercise classes are orginised in groups. Teaching assistents will offer step-by-step instruction for solving problems, alternated with blocks of time for the students to solve problems, where assistance is constantly offered.

For students interested in more challinging problems and deeper questions we offer an Advanced Physics Track.

Assessment method

Written exam with open questions. Part of the exam tests the students' understanding of the theory, the other part tests the skills for independently solving problems. The exam can be retaken.

Reading list

The prime source of study material are the lecture notes, made available as a pdf document.
For further reading the following books recommended:
Analytical Mechanics, G.R. Fowles and G.L. Cassiday, 7th edition (Thomson Learning, inc., 2004), ISBN 9780534408138.
Classical Mechanics, H. Goldstein, C.P. Poole Jr., J.L. Safko, 3rd edition (Pearson Education Ltf., 2014), ISBN 9781292026558


Brightspace is used as the central information source in CMb.
It offers, a.o., an overview of the course material and the program for each week, all powerpoint slides of the lectures, the pre-recorded lectures, the recordings of the live lectures fro reviewing, assignments, and examples of exams of previous years.
Registration for Brightspace occurs via uSis by registration for a class activity using a class number


Contact details of the lecturer: Prof.dr. Jan van Ruitenbeek