PHY 2048 - Physics 1 with Calculus - Spring 2017


This web site serves as the syllabus for the course. You are required to read each of the links on the left menu bar. The course web site is very detailed and very explicit----chances are that any policy question you might have has been already answered here.

About the course

PHY2048 is a calculus-based introduction to general physics, Part I. Topics covered include basic equations of motion, concepts of force and torque, linear and angular momenta, work, kinetic and potential energy. We will consider point-like and finite-size objects, as well as fluids. We will discuss such periodic phenomena as oscillations and waves. Gravitation, one of the four fundamental forces of nature, is also covered in this course.

Our goal at all times is to help you understand the basic physical principles so that you can apply them to real situations. In addition to providing the basic theoretical underpinnings to the subject, we use many examples, "concept problems", physical demonstrations and virtual demonstrations. We also show many examples of everyday tools and advanced instruments that utilize these principles.


High school physics or PHY2020. In addition, the course will rely heavily on the following level of math (see textbook Appendix E for details). If you are not competent at this level you should take the appropriate refresher course(s) before taking this class; otherwise, you are bound to fail.

  • Algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • Analytic Geometry
  • Vectors
  • Calculus 1 and
  • Calculus 2 (corequisite)
There a series of online "Video Lectures" that are very useful in reviewing the necessary math material. See "Course Schedule" for the math refresher links scheduled for 1/4/17.

Course Goals and Objectives

By the end of this course, students will have a solid foundation in the concepts, principles, terminology, and methodologies used to describe motion (translational, rotational and combined) of simple objects, the basic properties of matter, harmonic oscillations, and wave motion. Specifically, students will be able to:

  • Analyze particular physical situations, and thus identify the fundamental principles pertinent to those situations,
  • Apply fundamentals principles to formulate mathematical equations describing the relation between physical quantities in these particular situations,
  • Solve mathematical equations to find the values of physical quantities,
  • Communicate unambiguously both the principles that apply to a situation and the results of specific calculations resulting from the steps above

Required material

The following material must be acquired not later than by the end of the first week of classes:

Required work and points toward your final grade

The course work includes:

  • reading the text for the assigned material,
  • attending lecture (during lectures, we will administer quick HITT-based quizzes);
  • watching the online lecture videos (linked on a Canvas page, and on the Course Schedule page to the left)
  • doing the weekly homework;
  • attending discussion section (and taking the discussion section quizzes);
  • and taking the exams;
The schedule for each of these and the overall grading policy can be found in the corresponding links on the left.

Effective strategies for learning physics

Invest the time!

From interviewing students we have found that the A to B+ students have better habits and spend more time on this course than B and C students. In particular, they rarely miss class, do all the recommended homework problems and more, read ahead, watch online lectures, and study the material for several hours a week (not just before exams). Developing good habits at the start of the semester, before things get busy and you fall behind, will help you succeed.

A large fraction of your study time should be devoted to problem solving, which is essential to learning and cannot be replaced by mere listening and reading.

The following strategies will help you to do well in the course:

  • Keep up with the course. The best strategy for success is to stay up to date with the readings and homework. In particular, solving problems will improve your performance on exams and quizzes far better than memorizing formulas or cramming. A good rule of thumb is that you should be spending about 6-9 hours per week on the material outside of class.

  • Attend lectures and discussions regularly. We cannot stress enough the importance of coming to class. Frequent class skipping contributes strongly to poor student performance. However, attending classes and doing something else at the same time like reading papers, browsing internet, texting/emailing, doing homework, etc. is a waste of your time. Read ahead before lecture: even though you may not understand the chapter material, advance reading "primes" your brain to be receptive to the material when it is discussed in lecture or discussion. Be proactive and ask questions: as you learn new concepts, your questions cannot possibly be wrong or stupid and are very likely to be widely shared.

  • Ask questions. Your question is not stupid and is probably widely shared.

  • Homework and extra problems. Working out the weekly problem sets (plus extra problems as needed) is the most important element of the course. It is absolutely critical that you invest YOUR PERSONAL HONEST EFFORT into solving problems by yourself---it is the only way to learn the main concepts in physics and prepare yourself for discussion session quizzes and exams. The following pattern of studies never fails:
    • Before proceeding with homework, review the summary at the end of the chapter. You should understand the exact meaning of each formula (variables and constants entering the formula and in which situations the formula is applicable) without having to re-read the synopsis.
    • Attempt to work out each problem yourself and do not give up easily. Making a good neat drawing is a must; make a drawing even if there is a good picture in the textbook. Make a list of all variables given to you. As you put down all this on a paper, you help your brain to see what actually happens in the problem on hand.
    • Always work out problems symbolically all the way to the end; only then, when you have the final expression for the answer, plug in numerical values for the variables. This will help you to keep track of what you are doing. Before plugging in numbers, check that the answer has the right units.
    • If you get stuck (which is absolutely normal as your learn!), do not hesitate to consult with your friends and certainly take advantage of office hours. After you have understood the conceptual flow leading to the solution, attempt to solve the same problem in a day or two without looking in your notes.
    • For each problem that you had to ask for help, find a similar problem in the text book or past exams and attempt to solve it yourself. This is the key for making sure that you mastered the concepts!
    • If you see that you can solve problems yourself, but it still takes more than 5-10 min per problem, keep working out extra problems; remember: you have about 5 min per problem on the exams.
    • Never ever start from looking at someone's solutions without having gotten stuck on the problem first.
    • After each exam, always make sure you review and fully understand how to solve ALL problems of the exam you just took.

  • Do use office hours. If you don't understand something, ask someone during office hours. Office hours are spread across many hours of the week for your convenience. There is also a Tutoring Center with a number of people and resources for students in Physics courses, and a student organization, Tau Beta Pi, which provides help on the homework and reviews before exams.

  • Other Resources:
    • Fundamentals of Physics: Student Solutions to Accompany the 7th Edition, David Halliday, Robert Resnick, Jearl Walker Wiley, 2004.
    • R.C. Davidson, Mathematical Methods for Introductory Physics with Calculus, Saunders College Publishing, 1994.
    • R.P.Feynman, R. B. Leighton and M. Sands, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Addison-Wesley, 1966.
    • The World Wide Web is a wonderful resource. Here is one useful site: There are many more.

Honor Code

The UF Honor Code applies to all aspects of this course. It is required that you report any possible infractions to your instructor immediately.

Students with disabilities

Students requesting classroom accommodation for disabilities must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the instructor when requesting accommodation. Forms are now to be completed online. You must submit this documentation prior to submitting assignments or taking the quizzes or exams. Accommodations are not retroactive, therefore, students should contact the office as soon as possible in the term for which they are seeking accommodations.