Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Mathematics 3Q: Mechanics MATHS3020

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 3 (SCQF level 9)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

The aim of this course is to study the motion of a single particle, including central forces, conservation of energy and motion relative to a rotating frame of reference.


12 x 1hr lectures and 10 x 1hr tutorials in a semester.

Requirements of Entry

Maths 2A, 2B and 2D at grade D3 or above.

Combined GPA of 9.0 or above on the three courses Maths 2C, Maths 2E and Maths 2F.

Full details of the requirements for a designated degree can be found in the University Calendar.

Excluded Courses

Mechanics of Rigid and Deformable Bodies (??)


90% Examination, 10% Coursework.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The aim of this course is to extend the work on the basic two-dimensional motion of particles covered in Mathematics 2C.  Topics covered are:

1. Conservative forces.

2. Motion under the action of a central force.

3. Motion relative to a rotating frame of referenece.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


1. Apply Newton's second law to the case of a central force; proving motion is planar and that energy and angular momentum are conserved.

2. Solve for particle motion under the action of a central force using either conservation of energy or by solving for the particle path.

3. Determine whether a circular orbit is stable.

4. Establish whether a force is conservative, and when it is, determine the corresponding potential.

5. Use conservation of energy to solve for particle motion under the action of a conservative force.

6. Solve for particle motion measured with respect to a rotating frame of reference.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits