• Offered by Physics Education Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Physics
  • Areas of interest Physics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Andrew Truscott
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

Quantum mechanics (along with General Relativity) is one of the two foundational theories on which modern physics rests. PHYS2013  introduces the basic theoretical concepts and formalism, including the wave mechanics developed by Schroedinger and others and some aspects of the matrix formalism first developed by Heisenberg.

The course starts with an overview of the historical evidence that led to the development of a quantum theory of matter and light.  This is followed by an introduction to the key elements of quantum mechanics, including the statistical interpretation of wave functions, the role of operators and their connection with observables, and uncertainty.  These concepts are initially introduced and reinforced through relatively simple problems with analytic solutions, but computational solutions are also examined where appropriate.

PHYS2013  provides the foundations for further studies of, for example, atomic and nuclear spectroscopy, elementary particle physics and solid state physics as well as more advanced quantum mechanics. It is thus a core course in that it provides the background needed for several courses offered at third year. There is a small laboratory component (shared with PHYS2020).

Honours Pathway Option

This course is offered as an advanced option.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. identify and understand the kinds of experimental results which are incompatible with classical physics and which required the development of a quantum theory of matter and light

2. interpret the wave function and apply operators to it to obtain information about a particle's physical properties such as position, momentum and energy

3. solve the Schroedinger equation to obtain wave functions for some basic, physically important types of potential in one dimension, and estimate the shape of the wavefunction based on the shape of the potential

4. understand the role of uncertainty in quantum physics, and use the commutation relations of operators to determine whether or not two physical properties can be simultaneously measured

5. apply the technique of separation of variables to solve problems in more than one dimension and to understand the role of degeneracy in the occurrence of electron shell structure in atoms.

6. relate the matrix formalism to the use of basis states, and solve simple problems in that formalism.

7. design, set up and carry out experiments; analyse data recognising and accounting for uncertainties; and compare results with theoretical predictions.

Indicative Assessment

Assessment will be based on:

(i) MC questions (online): after most lectures there will be a series of exercises (multiple choice questions).  You will in general have one go at each question and they should be done independently.  The combined mark from all these exercises will form 10% of the mark. (LO 1-6)

(ii) Assignments (offline): There will be a total of 8 assignments that you will do throughout the course.  These will be released on the Wattle site and will contribute 16% to your final mark. (LO 1-6)


(iii) Quiz (offline): there will be Two quizzes during the course (held in the Lute), approximately evenly spread throughout the semester.  These quizzes will consist of multiple choice questions and will be worth 4% each. The first quiz will be held a quarter of the way through the course and the second quiz will be held ¾ of the way through the course. The idea of these quizzes is that you get some feedback of how you’re travelling throughout the course. (LO 1-6)

(iv) Mid-Term Exam (offline): There will be a mid-term exam – that will ensure you are keeping up with the course, it will be worth 20%. (LO 1-3)

(v) Final Exam (offline): There will be a 3hr final exam, similar to previous years exams. Previous exams are available from the library. The final exam will be worth 30%, and will focus on the second half of the course, although concepts from the first part of the course will still be needed. (LO 1-6)

(vi) Labs (offline):  16% (LO 7)

NOTE: For the quizzes no calculators will be allowed (or needed).  For the exams, non-programmable calculators will be allowed.

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


PHYS2013 (2nd year Quantum Mechanics) now follows the ‘flipped classroom’ model, that is, there are no lectures but instead short videos that convey the course content.  After each of these videos there are a serious of multiple choice (MC) questions which are intended to test your understanding of the video content.

In this course you will learn how to perform calculations in quantum mechanics. This is best done in a weekly 2hr ‘workshop’ environment.  A typical workshop consists of a problem sheet that is based on concepts of the weekly videos that the whole class works through. Discussion with other students at your table, about the problems, is encouraged, however, the real strength of the workshop is the student’s access to experienced tutors/lecturer (about 15 students per tutor for this course). These tutors will walk round the workshop answering questions about the problems and any other questions the student might have about the course. There will be NO assessment in these workshops (for this course), however attendance at the weekly workshop is compulsory

For 1 hour each week I will meet with the class and discuss concepts in QM.  Since this is the combination of a lecture and a tute, I call this a Lute. The main reason for this hour is for discussion of the assignment problems (hints not direct answers) as well as other similar problems. This session will not be compulsory, accept when quizzes are held.

There are also 12 hours of lab over the semester.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed PHYS1101 and PHYS1201 and either MATH1013 or MATH1014 or MATH1115 or MATH1116.

Assumed Knowledge

It is desirable that students take MATH2305 or MATH2405 simultaneously with PHYS2013 unless they have previously completed MATH2023, but it is not a course requirement.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $4050
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3833 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 08 May 2020 05 Jun 2020 In Person View

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions