Practical Physics

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
PHYS 1104
Practical Physics
Science & Technology
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
4 hours lecture / 3 hours laboratory per week
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

Classroom time will be divided between the presentation and discussion of basic concepts on the one hand and the application of these concepts in problem solving (working through examples and problems) on the other, with the majority of time devoted to the latter.  The laboratory program will involve weekly, three hour sessions during which students will perform a set number of experiments.  This course involves some group work.

Course Description
This course is intended for students who have not taken Physics previously or who have taken some secondary school Physics and want a review. It can serve as one of the prerequisites for the university transfer course, PHYS 1107. It is recommended that Math 1110 or equivalent be taken concurrently. The areas to be covered are mechanics (one and two dimensional motions; rectors; rotational motion; simple machines; work, energy, and power; momentum; equilibrium; Hooke’s law; collisions; circular motion; hydrostatics), heat (thermometry; heat transfer; thermal properties of matter), and electricity (electrostatics; direct current concepts and basic circuits).
Course Content


  • physical quantities and SI units
  • velocity and acceleration
  • uniformly accelerated motion
  • gravitation
  • Newton’s laws of motion
  • vectors versus scalars
  • vector addition
  • first condition for equilibrium
  • torque and lever arm
  • second condition for equilibrium
  • friction
  • work, energy and power
  • conservation of energy
  • simple machines
  • momentum and impulse
  • rotational motion
  • centripetal force and acceleration
  • density
  • pressure
  • Archimedes’ principle


  • temperature and thermometers
  • thermal energy and heat capacity
  • latent heats and phase changes
  • heat transfer mechanisms


  • electric charge
  • Coulomb’s Law
  • electric field
  • potential difference
  • current
  • resistance and Ohm’s Law
  • electric power
  • simple circuit analysis
Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course the student will be able to:

  1. Explain/define terms and quantities encountered: displacement, velocity/speed, acceleration, free-fall, scalar, vector resultant, vector component, equilibrium, mass, weight, force, free body diagram, centre of gravity, torque, lever arm, friction, work, kinetic energy, potential energy, power, mechanical advantage, momentum, impulse, moment of inertia, angular displacement, angular velocity, angular acceleration, centripetal force, centripetal acceleration, density, pressure, fluid pressure, temperature, thermal energy, specific heat, latent heat, heat conduction, convection, radiation, electric charge, electrical conductor, insulator, electric field, electric potential difference/voltage, resistance, current, electromotive force.
  2. Identify the appropriate SI units for the quantities encountered.
  3. State the major principles/laws encountered: first and second conditions for equilibrium, Newton’s three laws of motion, law of universal gravitation, work-energy theorem, principles of conservation of energy and momentum, Archimedes’ principle, Coulomb’s law, Ohm’s law.
  4. Add vector quantities using the geometric and component (trigonometry) methods.
  5. Apply the laws/principles to the solution of numerical problems encountered in the textbook and in the laboratory.
  6. Perform basic experiments in mechanics, heat and electricity and analyze the data obtained using appropriate graphing techniques, scientific notation, significant figures and experimental uncertainty considerations.
Means of Assessment
  1. final examination – minimum of 30%/maximum of 40%
  2. two tests administered during the semester – minimum of 15% each/maximum of 25% each
  3. submitted laboratory reports – 20%
  4. quizzes, assignments – maximum of 10%
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students

L.A. Bloomfield, How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life, 2nd Edition, Wiley, 2001

Douglas College, Physics 1104 Laboratory Experiments


B.C. Principles of Math 11 (C or higher)