Introductory courses in Physics: choosing the right one for you


Any Physics course will give you a good introduction to scientific reasoning and the natural laws that help us understand everything from the passage of the seasons to the way a laser works.  Depending on a students major, PHY 100, 101, 103, 11, 200, 210 or 230 may be used to meet the All-University Natural Science Group B requirement.  In addition, many majors require certain physics courses.  We hope this description of our courses will help you select the specific course that best fits your interests and needs.


Elementary courses:

PHY 111 - Physics for Today  3 credits.  A basic look at the physics of the world we see around us.  It uses a minimum amount of math (elementary high-school algebra is enough preparation for most students) and concentrates on concepts and ideas that form a scientific world view.  Many of the classes include demonstrations.  The class meets three hours per week. It is offered both fall and spring.  In most semesters, you can take either a regular lecture section or an L-credit section which includes extensive writing assignments. Most of the students in PHY 111 are non-science majors. It is also worthwhile for science majors, since it helps build scientific intuition and a conceptual grasp of material that is treated more abstractly in the courses for their major.

PHY 100 - Elements of Physics for the Liberal Arts  3 credits.  This material in this course is similar to PHY 111, but instead of three lecture hours per week, it meets for two lecture and two lab hours per week.  This is a better choice for students who like doing lab experiments and for those in majors, which expect students to have a lab-based physical science course.  It is offered in the fall and spring.

PHY 101 - Inquiries in Elementary Physics  3 credits.  This course is centered on hands-on inquiry experiences in the laboratory and is specifically designed for prospective teachers.  Most of the students are non-science majors who plan to teach grades PK-8.  Many of the course activities drawn directly from elementary and middle school science curricula that have proven to be effective with children from diverse backgrounds.  It is offered in the fall and spring.
      
PHY 103 - Elements of Physics for the Life Sciences  3 credits.  This course meets the requirement for admission to the Nursing Department at Southern.  Although the basic concepts are the same as those in the other elementary physics courses, there are also discussions of how these concepts apply to bio-medical questions.  PHY 103 is at a somewhat more mathematical level than PHY 111 or 100.  Students must either complete MAT 095 (or a higher level math course), or take the Placement Exam and receive placement into MAT 100 or 101 (or into a higher level course) before taking PHY 103. This course is offered fall, spring and summer.  It meets for two lecture and two lab hours per week.

Courses designed for science majors  (All of these courses meet three lecture hours and three lab hours per week):

PHY 200 - 201  General Physics I & II  4 credits each.  This two-semester sequence meets the minimum admission requirements for many medical schools and is the recommended minimum preparation for biology majors intending to do laboratory research in graduate school.    It meets the requirements for Earth Science majors, but students interested in astronomy, geophysics or meteorology should take PHY 230 - 231 instead. We recommend (but do not require) high school trigonometry and either high school physics or one of the 100's level physics courses as preparation for PHY 200.  The prerequisite for PHY 200 is MAT 100 or 102, or else a Placement Exam Score of at least MAT 122.  It is offered in the fall and first summer session.  PHY 201 is offered in the spring and second summer session.

PHY 210   College Physics  4 credits.  A one-semester condensed course that investigates selected areas of introductory physics including motion and Newton's laws, electric circuits  and optics.  Lab experiments are a primary focus of the work in this course.  The material is studied at approximately the same level as PHY 200 - 201 and the prerequisite is the same as for PHY 200.  This course meets the minimum requirement for biology majors, but not for medical school admissions.  Students interested in other health professions should investigate the specific physics requirements for those fields before registering for PHY 210.  PHY 210 also satisfies the physics requirement for the Computer Information Systems degree.  PHY 210 is offered in the fall and spring.

PHY 230 - 231  Physics for Scientists and Engineers I & II  4 credits each.  This two-semester sequence is the first requirement towards a degree in Physics.  It is required for physics, chemistry, biochemistry, and computer science (general program) majors.  It will also satisfy the physics requirement for pre-engineering, biology, medical and other health-professions schools, and earth science.  Calculus is used extensively so students should not register for PHY 230 unless they have either completed, or will take concurrently, MAT 150.  Students should usually have also taken either high school physics or an elementary college-level introduction to physics such as PHY 100 or 111.  PHY 230 is offered during the day in the fall semester and in the evening in the first summer session.  PHY 231 is offered during the day in the spring semester and in the evening in the second summer session.