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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

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

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.

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.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information. An exemption is the fall semester for 1st year bachelor students, the student administration will enroll this group.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Lecturer: [dr. Julia Cramer] (