UNIK4480 – Optics and light

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Physics of light: photons, waves, polarisation, rays. Calculation of ray paths and light levels. Analytical and numerical calculation of properties of optics for imaging and illumination: lenses, mirrors, prisms and composite lens systems. Modelling and correction of imaging aberrations. Gaussian (laser) beams. Introduction to detectors, image sensors, optical fibres interferometry and spectroscopy. Optical instruments: eye, camera, microscope and telescope. The lectures will contain practical demonstrations and experiments.

Learning outcome

The course gives insight into the physics of light, and gives a basis for understanding optical measurements and optical technology. After taking this course, you will be able to:

  • use optical components and systems
  • use, and choose, different models for light (ray, wave, field or particle)
  • calculate light level and ray paths in optical systems
  • understand the operating principle of some important types of optical instruments

As a master student, you will write an in-depth essay on a topic from the course, which can be chosen to be relevant for your master thesis work.


Students admitted at UiO must apply for courses in Studentweb. Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

Nordic citizens and applicants residing in the Nordic countries may apply to take this course as a single course student.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures for international applicants.


Recommended previous knowledge

The course builds on knowledge as given by FYS1120 – Electromagnetism and FYS2130 – Waves and oscillations or similar.


3 hours of lectures + 2 hours group/lab sessions each week. The lectures and groups will all be held at Blindern campus.

You will write an assignment on a chosen topic. The assignment will be graded and count towards your final grade.


You will write an assignment on a chosen topic; the assignment will make out 15 % of the total grade. An oral exam in the end of the semester will make out the remaining 85 % of the total grade. In case of many students, the final exam may be written.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Students who can document a valid reason for absence from the regular examination are offered a postponed examination at the beginning of the next semester.

Re-scheduled examinations are not offered to students who withdraw during, or did not pass the original examination.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language

Norwegian (English on request)