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History of Science in Physics

Module PH9108

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Basic Information

PH9108 is a semester module in German language at Master’s level which is offered every semester.

This module description is valid to WS 2019/20.

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
120 h 30 h 4 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH9108 is Heinz Reinhardt.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


  • Forerunner: Babylon, Egypt, China, India
  • 350 to 100 anno Domini: physics during the time of Hellenism
  • Transition: Middle Ages in Central Europe and Middle East
  • 1450 to 1700: Kopernikus, Brahe, Galilei and Kepler
  • 1643 to 1726: Isaac Newton in the next generation
  • generations contemporary and in succession of Newton
  • period of wide propagation during 18th century (physics of electricity, thermodynamics, technology)
  • 1896: turning point in atomic and nuclear physics
  •  Findings by Curies and Rutherford
  •  Albert Einstein
  •  history of modern physics: Planck, Sommerfeld, Bohr, Hahn, Heisenberg, Bethe, Meitner, Joliot
  •  development of the nuclear fission bomb
  •  development of modern astrophysics

Learning Outcome

After the successful participation in the module the student is able to:

  1. name the most important representatives of epochs in science, their biographical details and scientific findings
  2. comprehend the heuristic path leading to Kepler's laws and transferred to terrestrial processes by Galilei
  3. recognize the importance of models in physics
  4. estimate the significance of the cooperation between mathematics and physics
  5. recognize the limits of mathematical description in physics processes
  6. comprehend the experimental path to the work of Faraday and the big step to Maxwell's equations
  7. reproduce the phenomenological path of thermodynamics via the three fundamental theorems and distinguish this path from the statistical argumentation done by Mawxwell and Boltzmann
  8. describe the life and findings of Albert Einstein and the physics research in Germany during the period of National Socialism
  9. comprehend the path of Planck to his law of thermal radiation and reflect the work of Sommerfeld
  10. reproduce the history of development of the nuclear fission bomb and reflect the responsibility of physicists in society
  11. comprehend the development of modern astrophysics


In this module only already known physics topics are presented in the historical context. For this reason a workload of four credits is sufficient to reach the learning outcome. For a combination of this module with other modules no reasonable basis exists.


PH0001, PH0002, PH0003, PH0004 for bachelor / master of science education

PH9101, PH9102, PH9103, PH9104 for bachelor / master of vocational education

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Learning and Teaching Methods

In the lecture the historical context of physics findings and the causal correlation between them is presented using suitable material (pictures, diagrams, ...).


writing on blackboard, presentation


lecture notes

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

The module exam consists of a written exam with a duration of 90 minutes or an oral exam with a duration of 30 minutes. If there are less than 10 participants the module exam will be an oral one, otherwise it will be an written one.

The students have to prove particularly that they have understood the causal correlation and interaction between historical meaningful findings as well as the corresponding personalities.

Exam Repetition

There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

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