Registering for your first-year Physics courses
Edward Sternin, Chair of Physics
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
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:

Course Title Normally offered in
ASTR 1P01 Introduction to Astronomy I FW D2, SP D2
ASTR 1P02 Introduction to Astronomy II FW D3, SP D3
PHYS 1P21/1P91 Mechanics and Waves FW D2, FW D3 (1P21 only)
PHYS 1P22/1P92 Electromagnetism, Optics and Modern Physics FW D3, SP D1
PHYS 1P23/1P93 Fluids, Heat and Light FW D3
FW D2: Sept-Dec; FW D3: Jan-Apr; SP D2: May-June; SP D3: June-July; 1P9x: with labs; 1P2x: without labs

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:

  Fall Term (D2) Winter Term (D3)
Physics' majors PHYS 1P91 PHYS 1P92 and 1P93
Natural Sciences' majors PHYS 1P91 PHYS 1P92
Life Sciences' majors PHYS 1P91 PHYS 1P93
Non-Sciences' majors PHYS 1P91 or 1P21 PHYS 1P93 or 1P23
PHYS 1P91 or 1P21 PHYS 1P92 or 1P22
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.
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 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 | PHYS 1P93

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 the online 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!