Textbook recommendations for second year physics (UK university)

In summary: ...a graduate level course or as a reference, not as the textbook for a first-year undergraduate course.
  • #1
jqmhelios
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TL;DR Summary: Which are the best textbooks for the subjects I mention? Those on my reading list are graduate level texts

I'm due to start second-year physics in a UK university in October and wanted to prepare well for it (especially after I got a first in year 1). All of the modules I plan to take have reading lists, but those books on those lists for the most part are incredibly complicated.

Statistical mechanics- How good is "Concepts in Thermal Physics" by Blundell? (I also do have Landau's text on this)

Electromagnetism- The reading list includes "Electromagnetism" by Grant and Phillips, but I haven't been impressed by it. Is Purcell's 'Electricity and Magnetism' worth getting? I especially like that it has a massive amount of problems and answers to them

Optics- How good is Hecht's 'Optics'?

Computational physics (ie programming with Python)- are "Learning Scientific Programming with Python" and "Computational Physics" by Newman any good?

Hamiltonian mecahnics- Reading list has the outrageously complicated Goldstein text. I do have Landau's text, but it is in another language. I am looking for an accessible text on the subject written for second-year physics students, preferably with lots of problems. What about "Classical Dynamics of particles and systems"?

Fluid mechanics- Again, Landau in another language. Are there any other accessible texts at my level?

The full module list is here:
https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/physi...aduate_study/physics_courses/secondyrmodules/

Thanks for your help!
 
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  • #2
jqmhelios said:
Electromagnetism- The reading list includes "Electromagnetism" by Grant and Phillips, but I haven't been impressed by it. Is Purcell's 'Electricity and Magnetism' worth getting? I especially like that it has a massive amount of problems and answers to them
I gave up on Purcell as it was too wordy for me and switched to Griffiths. I'm a slow reader and struggle with a lot of text.

I feel like I'm on the same wavelength as Griffiths and got a lot from all his books: QM, EM and Particle Physics. That may be a personal thing.
 
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jqmhelios said:
What about "Classical Dynamics of particles and systems"
That's Marion and Thornton, right? I had to Google the title because nobody in physics academia (that I know, anyway) remembers textbooks by title, only by author(s). :smile:
 
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jqmhelios said:
TL;DR Summary: Which are the best textbooks for the subjects I mention? Those on my reading list are graduate level texts

I'm due to start second-year physics in a UK university in October and wanted to prepare well for it (especially after I got a first in year 1). All of the modules I plan to take have reading lists, but those books on those lists for the most part are incredibly complicated.

Statistical mechanics- How good is "Concepts in Thermal Physics" by Blundell? (I also do have Landau's text on this)
I don't know this text, but Landau & Lifshitz vol. 5 is very good.
jqmhelios said:
Electromagnetism- The reading list includes "Electromagnetism" by Grant and Phillips, but I haven't been impressed by it. Is Purcell's 'Electricity and Magnetism' worth getting? I especially like that it has a massive amount of problems and answers to them
I'd not consider Purcell's Berkeley physics course volume. I find it overcomplicating things by trying to avoid the adequate math. For intro E&M I'd consider Griffiths.
jqmhelios said:
Optics- How good is Hecht's 'Optics'?
This one I don't know.
jqmhelios said:
Computational physics (ie programming with Python)- are "Learning Scientific Programming with Python" and "Computational Physics" by Newman any good?

Hamiltonian mecahnics- Reading list has the outrageously complicated Goldstein text. I do have Landau's text, but it is in another language. I am looking for an accessible text on the subject written for second-year physics students, preferably with lots of problems. What about "Classical Dynamics of particles and systems"?
Again Landau is excellent. Goldstein is a standard text, but avoid at all costs the newer editions, distorted by some new authors. The 2nd edition is very good. Who's the author of "Classicl Dynamics..."?
jqmhelios said:
Fluid mechanics- Again, Landau in another language. Are there any other accessible texts at my level?
Landau & Lifshitz vol. 6 again very good (all Landau & Lifshitz physics course volumes are outstanding; except vol. 4 about QED; here I'd consider a more modern text like Schwartz or Coleman).
jqmhelios said:
 
  • #5
jqmhelios said:
There is a link on the stat-mech/EM/optics module lists more texts, including an 'essential' book for the stat mech part (Blundell and Blundell). For EM they also list Lorrain, Corson and Lorrain, which is a nice alternative to Griffiths that has a more interesting selection of problems; as a text I like Griffiths a little better, though. Both of those EM books are accessible.

You mentioned that the books are very advanced. I am not familiar with the UK system, so don't know what level math and physics you have already learned. In the US, mechanics books like Goldstein and Landau would more likely be used either in upper-division undergrad (3rd/4th year) or graduate level courses. The mechanics book by Marion and Thornton is easier, and used copies of old editions should be very inexpensive.

Prof. Fitzpatrick at UT Austin has some good online resources for many of these topics at
https://farside.ph.utexas.edu/teaching.html
He seems to write his own texts for many of the courses he teaches.

jason
 
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  • #6
jqmhelios said:
Hamiltonian mecahnics- Reading list has the outrageously complicated Goldstein text. I do have Landau's text, but it is in another language. I am looking for an accessible text on the subject written for second-year physics students, preferably with lots of problems. What about "Classical Dynamics of particles and systems"?
I used Mechanics by K. Symon in upper-division classical mechanics. I seem to recall liking the book at the time. It's actually the first suggested reference Goldstein lists at the end of Chapter 1 in the second edition. He describes it as "an excellent and unusually detailed intermediate textbook on mechanics that can be used with much profit as a preliminary, and often as a supplement, to the present book."
 

1. What textbooks are recommended for second year physics at a UK university?

Some commonly recommended textbooks for second year physics at a UK university include "University Physics" by Young and Freedman, "Introduction to Electrodynamics" by Griffiths, and "Classical Mechanics" by Taylor. However, it is best to check with your specific university or professor for their recommended textbooks.

2. Are there any online resources that can supplement the recommended textbooks?

Yes, there are many online resources that can supplement the recommended textbooks, such as Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare, and Coursera. These resources offer lectures, practice problems, and other materials that can help enhance your understanding of the subject.

3. Are there any textbooks specifically designed for UK university physics courses?

Yes, there are some textbooks that are specifically designed for UK university physics courses, such as "A Student's Guide to Waves" by Daniel Fleisch and "Physics for Scientists and Engineers" by Tipler and Mosca. These textbooks may be more tailored to the curriculum and teaching style of UK universities.

4. Can I use older editions of the recommended textbooks?

It is generally recommended to use the most recent edition of a textbook, as it may contain updated information and corrections. However, if you are unable to access the latest edition, older editions may still be useful as long as they cover the same topics and concepts.

5. Are there any alternative textbooks that cover the same material?

Yes, there are often multiple textbooks that cover the same material. Some alternative textbooks for second year physics at a UK university include "Fundamentals of Physics" by Halliday and Resnick, "Physics for Scientists and Engineers" by Serway and Jewett, and "Concepts of Modern Physics" by Beiser. It is best to consult with your professor or do some research to determine which textbook best suits your learning style and needs.

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