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Introductie Moderne Natuurkunde


Admission Requirements

Mathematics and Physics on Dutch high school VWO level


The remarkable revolution in physics at the beginning of the twentieth century has influenced our worldview at all levels. In this first course on modern physics, we will introduce the counter-intuitive principles, relativity and quantum mechanics and relativity, that are the foundations of the laws of physics. Starting with Einstein’s insight that the speed of light is the same for all observers, even when they move with respect to each other, we deduce the theory of special relativity, with E = mc2 as it most well-known consequence. Next we show how the photo-electric effect indicates the existence of a smallest quantum of light. This makes clear that waves are particles as well, but the principles of quantum mechanics demand that the converse is also true. Particles are also waves, and this explains the stability of atoms. We explain the important role of quanta in the explanation of blackbody radiation, en the structure of the atomic nucleus. We conclude by describing how these new insights have shown that forces and particles are in essence the same thing, en how daring experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN test these amazing principles with astonishing precision. The outlook towards modern physics given in this course is the first step to the research frontier.

Course Objectives

-Special Relativity (postulates of Einstein, time dilation, length Contraction, Lorentz transformations, Doppler shift, relativistic energy and momentum)
-Basis of Quantummechanics (photoelectric effect, De Broglie waves, wavefunction, uncertainty principle)
-Atomic structure (electron orbits and the Bohr atom)
-From single to many body physics (statistical distributions/Maxwell-Boltzmann, the ideal gas, blackbody radiation and Planck)
-Nuclear structure (binding energy, liquid-drop model, radioactive decay, nuclear reactions)
-Elementary Particles (forces and particles, the standard model, relativistic collisions)


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

See Brightspace

Assessment method

Midterm test: 30% of the final grade
Final exam: 70% of the final grade
11 Weekly Problem assignents: max 1.0 on top of the final grade (if final grade > 5.5)

Only the final exam can be retaken and will then count for 100% of the final grade.

Reading list

H.D. Young, R.A. Freedman, University Physics; Pearson; 14th ed. (2016)


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information. An exemption is the fall semester for 1st year bachelor students, the student administration will enroll this group.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Contact: Prof.dr. M.P. van Exter (Martin)