Physics for Liberal Arts

Science & Technology
Course Code
PHYS 1234
Semester Length
15 Weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
The course is designed primarily for liberal arts majors. It is a basic introduction to physical science and is intended for students with little or no science background. It will present an integrated approach to topics in physics: the topics themselves, as well as the historical reasons for their acceptance. The topics will include the historical evolution of scientific method, laws of motion, gravitation, matter and energy, heat and temperature, light, atoms and atomic nuclei, special relativity, and elements of astronomy. Laboratory exercises will illustrate the practical applications of the course content.
Course Content
  1. The history and predictive ability of theory
  2. Atomic theory of matter
  3. Motion
  4. Change in motion
  5. Newton's Law of Gravitation
  6. Work-Energy Theorem
  7. Thermodynamics
  8. Light and global warming
  9. Special Relativity
  10. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
  11. Nuclear physics

 Laboratory Experiments

  1. Investigating the historical roots of science
  2. Graphing lab
  3. Introduction to motion data analysis
  4. Laws of motion 
  5. Gravitation
  6. Work and energy
  7. Heat and temperature
  8. Properties of light
  9. Radioactivity
Methods Of Instruction

Classroom time will be divided between the presentation, demonstrations and discussion of concepts and the application of those concepts in problem solving.  The laboratory program will involve weekly sessions during which students will perform a set number of experiments.  Some group work will be required. Some of the work will be done online. 

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College Evaluation policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.  

Evaluation will be based on the following:

  • final exam/final project     30%-40%
  • term tests (minimum of two tests)    20%-30% 
  • laboratory experiments - minimum of nine labs    20%-30%
  • quizzes and/or assignments (possibly online)    10% - 20%
Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the following concepts and procedures through the solution of problems involving a variety of physical quantities.
  • Explain how experimental observations determine the validity of a theory
  • Describe the history of the accepted models of an atom and an atomic nucleus
  • Define and distinguish between speed, velocity and acceleration
  • Apply Newton's laws of motion by specifying the role of inertia in interactions between bodies
  • Apply Newton’s law of universal gravitation
  • Explain the principles behind the use of simple machines
  • Apply the law of conservation of energy and the work-energy theorem
  • Define heat and temperature
  • Explain and apply the laws of thermodynamics
  • Describe light and the electromagnetic spectrum
  • Explain how trace gases interaction with light affects climate
  • State the postulates of Special Relativity 
  • Define mass-energy equivalence
  • Define necessary ingredients for life on the other worlds
  • Define and differentiate between nuclear fission, fusion, radioactivity 
  1. Perform laboratory experiments and analyze the data obtained using appropriate graphing techniques, scientific notation, and significant figures.
Textbook Materials

Consult the Douglas College bookstore for the latest required textbooks and materials.

Example textbooks and materials may include

Urone P. and Hinrichs R., College Physics, OpenStax (current edition)

Douglas College Physics Department, Physics for Liberal Arts - PHYS 1234 Laboratory Manual (current edition)



BC Foundations of Math 11 (C or higher) or BC Pre-calculus 11 (C or higher) or Douglas College MATU 0410 (C- or higher)


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for PHYS 1234
Acsenda School of Management (ASM) ASM GEN 1XX (3)
Alexander College (ALEX) ALEX PHYS 100 (4)
Athabasca University (AU) AU PHYS 2XX (3)
Camosun College (CAMO) CAMO PHYS 1XX (4)
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU PHYS 1XX (4)
Coast Mountain College (CMTN) CMTN PHYS 1XX (3)
College of New Caledonia (CNC) CNC PHYS 1XX (3)
Columbia College (COLU) COLU PHYS 100 (4)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU PHYS 1100 (4)
Langara College (LANG) LANG PHYS 1XXX (4)
North Island College (NIC) NIC PHY 1XX (3)
Northern Lights College (NLC) NLC PHYS 1XX (4)
Okanagan College (OC) No Credit
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU PHYS 1XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU PHYS 1XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU PHYS 1XX (3)
University Canada West (UCW) UCW PHYS 101 (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV PHYS 100 (3) & UBCV PHYS 1st (1)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC PHYS 1XX (4)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV PHYS 1XX (4)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC SCIE 1XX (1.5)
Vancouver Community College (VCC) VCC PHYS 0983 (4)
Yorkville University (YVU) YVU GES 2XXX (3)

Course Offerings

Fall 2022