Computational Physics: Introductory Course

Course - first cycle - 7.5 credits

Syllabus for students spring 2021, spring 2020, spring 2019, spring 2018

Course Code:
FY130A revision 1.1
Swedish name:
Beräkningsbaserad fysik: Introduktionskurs
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of ratification:
21 May 2015
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Technology and Society
Enforcement date:
18 January 2016
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
21 May 2015

Entry requirements

1. The equivalent of English 6/English B in Swedish secondary school.
2. At least 15 credits of Calculus.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

Single subject course.


The purpose of the course is that the student shall develop knowledge and basic skills to use numerical methods for modeling physical systems. The aim of the course is also that the student obtains skills to implement numerical methods in Matlab / GNU Octave.


Numerical methods for:

  • Basic mathematical operations
  • Solution of differential equations
  • Solution of eigenvalue problems
  • Monte-Carlo simulations
  • Programming in Matlab / GNU Octave
  • The use of numerical methods for modeling physical systems

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
On completion of the programme the student shall:
1. demonstrate basic knowledge of numerical methods
2. demonstrate basic programming skills
3. demonstrate an understanding of the applicability of numerical methods for modeling physical systems and its advantages and disadvantages
Competence and skills
On completion of the programme the student shall:
4. demonstrate skills to use numerical methods for modeling physical systems
5. demonstrate the ability to estimate the errors in the use of numerical methods
6. demonstrate skills to write and develop simple programs in Matlab / GNU Octave
7. demonstrate an ability to describe the results of a simulation in a project report
Judgement and approach
On completion of the programme the student shall:
8. demonstrate ability to critically examine and evaluate a model of a physical system

Learning activities

The education is offered exclusively online; attendance or other physical presence is neither planned nor required. Students are expected to have access to a computer with Internet access.


Student performance is assessed by:

  • A number of small assignments (4,5 credits) Learning outcomes 1-2, 4, 6
  • A final project in the form of a report (3 credits) Learning outcomes 1-8

Requirements for Pass: Passed assignments and passed final project

Grading system

Fail (U) or Pass (G).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Compendia of theory and task description are provided.
Additional literature is chosen in consultation with the teacher / tutor depending on the direction of the project.
Reference Literature:
  • Stahel, Andreas (2015). Octave at BFH-TI Biel, Lecture notes, available at
  • Koonin, Steven E. (1998). Computational Physics, Reading, MA, Perseus Books. ISBN: 9780201386233

Course evaluation

The university provides all students who are participating in, or have completed, a course to express their experiences and views on the course through a course evaluation which is organized at the end of the course. The university will collate the course evaluations and provide information about their results and any actions prompted by them. The results shall be made available to the students. (HF 1:14).

Interim rules

When a course is no longer given, or the contents have been radically changed, the student has the right to re-take the examination, which will be given twice during a one year period, according to the syllabus which was valid at the time of registration.

Course reports