Offered to students admitted to Year 1 in ALL
Major/Minor ALL
Course Type
Offer in 2023 - 2024 Y N
Course Code PHYS2055
Date2024/07/16 11:05
Enquiry for Course Details
PHYS2055 Introductory relativity (6 credits) Academic Year 2023
Offering Department Physics Quota ---
Course Co-ordinator Dr K M Lee, Physics < kmlee1@hku.hk >
Teachers Involved (Dr K M Lee,Physics)
Course Objectives This course aims at introducing students the essence of special relativity. It is designed as an elective for students in all disciplines and all years with science background.  It is also a discipline elective for the physics major/minor and astronomy minor.  Completion of this course is one of the pre-requisites for PHYS4653 and PHYS4654.
Course Contents & Topics Topics include: "Common-sense" concepts of space and time versus Einstein's conceptions of space and time, Examples of time dilation and space contraction, Paradoxes of relativity including the famous twin paradox and the "pole-in-the-barn", Four vectors and Lorentz invariant, Some discussion on general relativity.
Course Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

CLO 1 recall the setup and significance of Michelson-Morley experiment
CLO 2 state the basic postulates and the spacetime concept of special relativity
CLO 3 explain time dilation and length contraction
CLO 4 describe Lorentz transformation and its applications
CLO 5 state the resolution of the twin and pole-in-the-barn paradoxes
Pre-requisites
(and Co-requisites and
Impermissible combinations)
Pass in PHYS1050 or PHYS1150 or PHYS1250 or ENGG1300
Course Status with Related Major/Minor /Professional Core 2023 Major in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2023 Major in Physics (Intensive) ( Core/Compulsory )
2023 Minor in Astronomy ( Disciplinary Elective )
2023 Minor in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2022 Major in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2022 Major in Physics (Intensive) ( Core/Compulsory )
2022 Minor in Astronomy ( Disciplinary Elective )
2022 Minor in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2021 Major in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2021 Major in Physics (Intensive) ( Core/Compulsory )
2021 Minor in Astronomy ( Disciplinary Elective )
2021 Minor in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2020 Major in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2020 Major in Physics (Intensive) ( Core/Compulsory )
2020 Minor in Astronomy ( Disciplinary Elective )
2020 Minor in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2019 Major in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2019 Major in Physics (Intensive) ( Core/Compulsory )
2019 Minor in Astronomy ( Disciplinary Elective )
2019 Minor in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
Course to PLO Mapping 2023 Major in Physics < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2023 Major in Physics (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2022 Major in Physics < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2022 Major in Physics (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2021 Major in Physics < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2021 Major in Physics (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2020 Major in Physics < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2020 Major in Physics (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2019 Major in Physics < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2019 Major in Physics (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
Offer in 2023 - 2024 Y        2nd sem    Examination May     
Offer in 2024 - 2025 Y
Course Grade A+ to F
Grade Descriptors
A Demonstrate thorough mastery at an advanced level of extensive knowledge and skills required for attaining all the course learning outcomes. Show strong analytical and critical abilities and logical thinking, with evidence of original thought, and ability to apply knowledge to a wide range of complex, familiar and unfamiliar situations. Apply highly effective organizational and presentational skills.
B Demonstrate substantial command of a broad range of knowledge and skills required for attaining at least most of the course learning outcomes. Show evidence of analytical and critical abilities and logical thinking, and ability to apply knowledge to familiar and some unfamiliar situations. Apply effective organizational and presentational skills.
C Demonstrate general but incomplete command of knowledge and skills required for attaining most of the course learning outcomes. Show evidence of some analytical and critical abilities and logical thinking, and ability to apply knowledge to most familiar situations. Apply moderately effective organizational and presentational skills.
D Demonstrate partial but limited command of knowledge and skills required for attaining some of the course learning outcomes. Show evidence of some coherent and logical thinking, but with limited analytical and critical abilities. Show limited ability to apply knowledge to solve problems. Apply limited or barely effective organizational and presentational skills.
Fail Demonstrate little or no evidence of command of knowledge and skills required for attaining the course learning outcomes. Lack of analytical and critical abilities, logical and coherent thinking. Show very little or no ability to apply knowledge to solve problems. Organization and presentational skills are minimally effective or ineffective.
Communication-intensive Course N
Course Type Lecture-based course
Course Teaching
& Learning Activities
Activities Details No. of Hours
Lectures 36
Tutorials 12
Reading / Self study 80
Assessment Methods
and Weighting
Methods Details Weighting in final
course grade (%)
Assessment Methods
to CLO Mapping
Assignments 20 CLO 2,4
Examination 2-hour written exam 50 CLO 1,2,3,4,5
Test 30 CLO 1,2,3,4,5
Required/recommended reading
and online materials
Lecture notes provided by Course Coordinator
Robert Resnick and David Halliday: Basic Concepts in Relativity and Early Quantum Theory (MacMillan Pub., 1992, 2nd revised edition)
Edwin F. Taylor and John A. Wheeler: Spacetime Physics: Introduction to Special Relativity (W. H. Freeman, 1992, 2nd edition)
Course Website http://moodle.hku.hk
Additional Course Information NIL
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