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Admission Requirements

Mathematics and Physics on Dutch high school VWO level
We expect you to be familiar with the mathematical skills from AN1NA.


In the Optics course you learn to describe light with either optical rays or electromagnetic waves. This enables you to solve most problems in Optics.

The lecture material is divided over four blocks:
1. In Geometric Optics you use optical rays and the principles of Huygens and Fermat to describe the operation of optical instruments like lenses, microscopes and telescopes, including their limitations.
2. In Wave Optics you treat light as an electromagnetic wave and encounter wave phenomena like diffraction and interference.
3. To handle the associated mathematical, you first study some general properties of oscillations and waves, including sound and water waves.
4. Finally, you analyze the optical polarization of light and ways to transform it.

The course addresses the following topics:

  • Propagation of light: Huygens sources & Fermat’s principle

  • Geometric optics: Refraction via Snell’s law and lens action through refraction at curved surfaces

  • Optical instruments: eye, microscope, telescope

  • Harmonic oscillation and phasors

  • Waves: interfering waves and the difference between phase and group velocity

  • Interferometers: Young’s double slit, Newton’s rings, Michelson and Fabry-Perot interferometer

  • Diffraction: single slit and double slit with finite width

  • Gratings: diffraction of N slits, diffraction orders and the resolution of a grating spectrometer

  • Optical polarization: linear and circular polarization, birefringence, λ/2 en λ/4 plates, Brewster’s angle

Course Objectives

The course objectives are in Dutch. Please change the language of this page to Dutch and use a translator.

Transferable skills

  • you prepare for lectures and working classes by studying the lecture material (videoclips and book)

  • you plan ahead in order to distribute your study load over the full lecture period.


For detailed information go to Timetable in Brightspace

Mode of Instruction

Zie Brightspace

Assessment method

Your final grade will consist of a midterm test, a final exam and four assignments. See for detailed information the Brightspace page.


Instructions and course material can be found on Brightspace. Registration for Brightspace occurs automatically when students enroll in uSis via uSis by registration for a class activity using a class number

Reading List

University Physics, H.D. Young and R.A. Freedman, Addison Wesley 14th edition (ISBN-13: 978-1292100319)
Older versions can be used as well.


Lecturer: [dr. Julia Cramer] (