Registering for your first-year Physics courses
Registering for your first University courses can be confusing. There is a variety of programs,
and options, and rules to account for.
This note is offered in an attempt to make some Physics-specific details more clear, but it could
never replace an academic advising session with an expert. In all cases where further clarification
is required, please book an academic advising session with one of our Physics Academic Advisers,
by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
First-year courses and scheduling
Department of Physics offers three first-year Physics half-credit courses and two first-year
Astronomy half-credit courses. Each of the three Physics courses comes in two versions: with (1P9x) or
without (1P2x) labs. Labs typically are recommended for most Science majors, and for many people planning
to enter professional programs (medicine, dentistry, etc.). The lab component does add 3hrs every
two weeks to the course load, but in return the marks tend to be higher in courses with lab components,
even in the other, non-lab, aspects of the course: some very important learning is taking place
in the labs. Plus, you get to play with some really cool equipment!
The courses are:
FW D2: Sept-Dec; FW D3: Jan-Apr; SP D2: May-June; SP D3: June-July; 1P9x: with labs; 1P2x: without labs
||Normally offered in
||Introduction to Astronomy I
||FW D2, SP D2
||Introduction to Astronomy II
||FW D3, SP D3
||Mechanics and Waves
||FW D2, FW D3 (1P21 only)
||Electromagnetism, Optics and Modern Physics
||FW D3, SP D1
||Fluids, Heat and Light
Physics' majors take all three of PHYS 1P91/2/3; for most other majors a combination
of two half-credit courses constitutes a valid full-year Physics credit.
As you can see from the above table, PHYS 1P21/1P91 is offered in D2 (the Fall term) and
also in D3 (the Winter term, PHYS 1P21 only), PHYS 1P23/1P93 and
and PHYS 1P22/1P92 only in D3 (the Winter term). In principle, PHYS 1P23/1P93 does not have a
prerequisite beyond the normal complement of high-school math, and therefore
can be taken before PHYS 1P21/1P91. Similarly, PHYS 1P21/1P91 before PHYS 1P22/1P92
is recommended, but not necessary, especially for students who have taken Grade 11 or
Grade 12 Physics. However, the regular expected sequence of the
first-year Physics courses is:
It must be added that scheduling conflicts often arise that require that some of the courses
be taken out-of-sequence; this is typically only a minor impediment. The specifics of
scheduling will very much depend on the context credit courses that a particular student may wish to take.
||Fall Term (D2)
||Winter Term (D3)
||PHYS 1P92 and 1P93
|Natural Sciences' majors
|Life Sciences' majors
||PHYS 1P91 or 1P21
||PHYS 1P93 or 1P23
|PHYS 1P91 or 1P21
||PHYS 1P92 or 1P22
Students who may not have the required high-school grades in Chemistry or Mathematics, or who do not
score high enough on the appropriate placement tests for MATH 1P05 or CHEM 1P90/1P91, should incorporate
MATH 1P20 and/or CHEM 1P00 courses into their program. These are typically offered in D2 (Fall term)
and the students should follow them up with MATH 1P05 and/or CHEM 1P90 in D3 (Winter term), with the
second-half courses (MATH 1P06, CHEM 1P91) to be taken either in the Spring session immediately following
or in the Fall/Winter session of the next academic year. Because of the scheduling complications that
may arise, students are strongly encouraged to seek an appointment with an Academic Adviser.
First-year course format
In addition to lectures, all first-year Physics courses have small-group
tutorial sessions (no more than 12 students each) during which students under the guidance of a TA
work through a set of problems closely related to the assigned weekly homework. These are submitted
at the end of the tutorial and are graded.
In addition, the Department of Physics has a regular Physics Help Desk as a drop-in center for questions related
to homework and tutorial problems. Times and locations are announced during the lectures.
When registering for 1P21/2/3 be sure to register for two components: the primary (lecture)
and one of the secondaries (a tutorial section); for PHYS 1P91/2/3, there are three components to
register for: one lecture section, one tutorial, and one lab (run on alternate weeks on
individually-assigned schedules, with the lab write-up due a few days after the lab).
All lab write-ups are to be submitted electronically, through Sakai, and are automatically processed
through turnitin.com. The late-submission penalty on the labs is 100%, in other words
no late submissions are accepted, so be sure to have it in on time and in the right format. There
is no penalty for early submissions!
The details are found on the course pages of the specific courses:
PHYS 1P21 |
PHYS 1P91 |
PHYS 1P22 |
PHYS 1P92 |
PHYS 1P23 |
The individual lab schedules will be available through the "Marks" links on each course page,
at the beginning of term.
To prepare for your first-year Physics courses
The best preparation is to make sure you are confident in your math skills. Elementary algebra such
as linear and quadratic equations, trigonometry including trigonometric identities, plotting of
algebraic and trigonometric functions, etc. If you are a little rusty, please review your high
school textbooks. Grade 12 Physics is not a prerequisite.
To assist you, the Department offers an online set of modules called PPLATO that cover a wide range of Physics and, more importantly here, of Math topics. You may need to scroll through
the long list of Physics topics to see the section on Math. On the left, there are effectively chapters
of a full online textbook that can be studied one-by-one, while on the right are the smaller tutorial-style
modules dedicated to some specific problem areas. All modules contain self-test questions. Also included
is a full high school mathematics textbook, the Maths
for Science (it was developed for The Open University in Great Britain, hence the British-sounding title).
PPLATO is an excellent resource for self-study and review.
Once you have mastered the high-school math skills covered by it, you can be
confident in your preparedness for the first-year physics courses, and you can continue to use it during your
studies at Brock to help you with advanced Math and Physics topics as well.
Making sure that you are confident in your math skills is not just for Physics. You will find
that other disciplines require this as well. In 2009-10 the Department of Mathematics introduced
Math Skills Tests.
Students enrolled in MATH 1P01 or MATH 1P05 are required to complete with a minimum of 70%
a series of several Mathematics Skills Tests by late September as one of the requirements for
receiving a credit in those two courses. The good news is - you can start early, as soon as you are
registered. All students in Physics are encouraged to do just that: start now, to ease your
transition into the University life. You can attempt the tests multiple times, and each has a
series of practice problems you can use to strengthen your skills, if you discover that
a particular area needs work. The best news is that it's free!