Fundamentals of Physics (PHYS*1300)

Code and section: PHYS*1300*01

Term: Fall 2021

Instructor: Maher Bakri-Kassem, Matt Steffler


Course Information


Please note that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may necessitate a revision of the format of course offerings and academic schedules. Any such changes will be announced via CourseLink and/or class email. All University-wide decisions will be posted on the COVID-19 website and circulated by email.


This course introduces students to fundamental phenomena in physics, with particular emphasis on applications to the biological sciences. Topics include: analyzing one-dimensional and two-dimensional motion; Newton’s laws; momentum, energy and associated conservation laws; interactions between charges, resistive direct-current circuits; the fundamentals of waves, with applications to acoustics; ionizing radiation, radioactivity and medical applications. This course is designed for students who have not completed 4U Physics (or equivalent): students with credit in 4U Physics (or equivalent) may not take this course for credit.

Credit Weighting: 0.50 credits

Course Objectives

  1. Expansion of breadth of knowledge, particularly in the application of physics to life sciences
  2. Improvement of skills in quantitative analysis and problem solving
  3. Ability to communicate (in writing) a logical problem solution
  4. Development of experimental and data collection techniques by participation in hands-on tasks (at-home labs)
  5. Develop time-management and self-motivation skills through the self-study format of this course
  6. Growth in physical understanding of everyday phenomena

Learning Outcomes

This is not a complete list of all you will be asked to study and encouraged to learn. However, after successfully completing this lecture and laboratory course you should at least be able to:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to think critically and to use appropriate concepts to qualitatively analyze problems or situations involving the fundamental principles of physics.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to use appropriate mathematical techniques and concepts to obtain quantitative solutions to problems in physics.

Course Materials

Text, Study Guide, Lab Kit

Textbooks, study guides and the lab-kits are available to order through the campus bookstore.

There are four distinct resources that students will need for this course:

  • Textbook
  • Lab Kit
  • Study Guide
  • This Course Outline


  1. Most B.Sc. students taking PHYS*1300 will be required to take a second physics course, PHYS*1080 to complete their Program requirements.  The following textbook can also be used for this second course.


    This resource is an online interactive eBook.  PHYS*1300 has optional online homework component that is purchased with the eBook (see Course Structure below).  A separate eBook option without the online homework assignments is also available through the Campus Bookstore.
  2. The Lab Kit will provide materials needed to complete your at-home labs.  The same Lab Kit is used in the following courses (1070, 1080, 1300) so you will only need to purchase the kit once for both physics courses.

    Lab Kit:  Available for purchase through the Campus Bookstore
  3. The Study Guide provides suggested textbook readings to guide you through course content.  The Study Guide also contains additional practice questions in the form of “Self-Tests”, with answers provided at the end of each Guide.  Additional Textbook questions are also suggested to prepare students for weekly quizzes.
  4. This course outline includes important dates and deadlines – you should read this document in its entirety

Course Access

Students in this course are required to access CourseLink to complete all course evaluations. As soon as possible, you should log-in to CourseLink and establish a course profile:

  • Use a web browser to go to the CourseLink website
  • Follow the CourseLink login instructions.

Course Administration

Course Contacts

Role Name Office Email
Course Administrator Cindy Wells Off campus
Quiz Technical Support JP East Off campus

Contact the Course Administrator for inquiries/issues related to:

  • Illness
  • errors in your posted grades in your CourseLink record
  • situations related to course administration (i.e. not questions about physics)

Contact Quiz Technical Support if you experience issues accessing your quiz or uploading/submitting your quiz solutions
When emailing support staff, include the course code, PHYS*1300, in your subject line.


Instructor Office Hours Extension Email
Maher Bakri-Kassem TBA on CourseLink x53985
Matt Steffler  TBA on CourseLink

Teaching Assistants

Name Office Email
Azam Askari Kermani  MACN 406
Harris Bidaman MACN 401
Suelen Camargo MACN 406
Jayani Dissanayake MACN 402
Hassan Khalvati MACN 402
Sylvia Luyben MACN 403
Sangeet Pannu MACN 401
Maryam Saliminasab MACN 406
Salvador Fernandez MACN 114



NOTE:  For the F21 semester, we will begin with remote synchronous lectures until Sept. 28, to give students time to meet the vaccination requirements.  Links to the live-streamed lectures will be provided in Courselink.  Upon return to in-person lectures, the following room locations will be used

Section Day Time Location
01 Monday, Wednesday, Friday 4:30 pm - 5:20 pm ROZH 101
02  Monday, Wednesday, Friday 1:30 pm - 2:20 pm WMEM 103
03 Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8:30 am - 9:20 am WMEM 103
04 Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:30 am - 11:20 am WMEM 103

Tentative Lecture Schedule

NOTE: The information in the “Lecture Topic” column is provided as a rough guide for the term. Future announcements about changes to the table or of any kind will be made in class and posted on CourseLink; these announcements take precedence over the original course outline!

Week Lecture Topics (Study Guide - SG) Textbook Chapters
1,2 Kinematics
  • Unit conversion and sig digits (SG 1.1)
  • Describing motion: speed, velocity, uniform motion (SG 1.2)
  • Acceleration, non-uniform motion (SG 1.3)
  • Acceleration due to gravity (SG 1.4)
  • Vectors (SG 1.5)
  • Displacement and velocity 2-d (SG 2.1)
  • Acceleration in 2-d (SG 2.2)
3,4  Dynamics:  What controls motion? Forces and Newton’s laws
  • Projectile Motion (SG 2.3)
  • Uniform circular motion (SG 2.4)
  • Forces and FBD (SG 3.1)
  • Newton’s 1st and 2nd law (SG 3.2)
  • Inclined planes (SG 3.3)
  • Newton’s 3rd law (SG 3.4)
5,6 Energy & Momentum:  Another way of understanding motion
  • Work, kinetic energy and work-energy theorem (SG 4.1, 4.2)
  • Gravitational PE and cons of energy (SG 4.3)
  • Work done by friction (SG 4.4)
  • Power (SG 4.5) 
  • Momentum, cons of momentum 1-d (SG 5.1, 5.2)
  • elastic and inelastic collisions (SG 5.3)
  • cons of momentum 2-d (SG 5.4)
7,8 Electricity
  • Electric charge and charge transfer (SG 6.1)
  • coulomb’s law and electric force (SG 6.2)
  • electric fields (SG 6.3)
  • Field lines and motion of charged particles (SG 6.4)
  • electric potential energy (SG 6.5)
  • electric potential (SGs 6.6, 6.7)
  • resistance and ohm’s law (7.2)
  • current, batteries and electric circuits (SG 7.3)
  • series and parallel wiring (SG 7.4)
9,10 Waves & acoustics:  What are waves and how do they behave?
  • introduction to waves, oscillations and SHM (SGs 8.1, 8.2)
  • traveling waves (SG 8.3)
  • superposition and standing waves (SGs 8.3, 9.1)
  • acoustic resonance (pipes) (SG 9.1)
  • beats (SG 9.2)
  • logarithms, loudness/intensity level, decibels (SG 9.3, 9.4)
  • Energy, Power, Intensity (SG 9.5)
  • ultrasound, infrasound and applications (SG 9.6)
11, 12 Nuclear Physics
  • Structure of the nucleus (SG 10.1)
  • Radioactivity (SG 10.1)
  • Nuclear equations and balancing, types of decay (SG 10.1)
  • Radioactive decay and half-lives (SG 10.2)
  • Attenuation (SG 10.3)
  • Medical applications (SG 10.3)

Course Structure


Assessment Scheme 1 Scheme 2
10 quizzes; best 8 count 5% each
40% 40%
At-home Labs
5 labs, each worth 3%
15% 15%
Online Homework
9 graded assignments [optional]
0% 8%
Final Exam 45% 37%
TOTAL 100%  100%

Final grades will automatically be the greater of the two schemes


After Sept. 28th, lectures will be delivered on-campus, as outlined in the schedule above.  Students must adhere to the health and safety measures put in place by the University when attending lectures.  Lecture notes are often posted on CourseLink following the lectures – ask your instructor for details.

The course is designed so that it can be completed independently by the student, as a self-study.  The Study Guides are meant to guide students through the entire course; lectures will support and reinforce content in the study guides.  Lecture attendance is not mandatory; however, you are strongly advised to attend your lecture section until you are sure that a self-study method works for you.  Whether you join lectures or not, it is your responsibility to check CourseLink for important weekly notices regarding the course.

Study Guide

The Study Guide (SG) contains the ten modules (Study Guides 1 to 10) for this course, which are summarized in this outline.  These ten modules cover the entire course and are designed so that you need never actually join a lecture if you follow their advice scrupulously. You must however complete labs. Each module provides you with:

  1. a brief introductory discussion of what the module is about,
  2. the educational objectives of the module,
  3. a detailed study guide (reading and problem lists, etc.)
  4. self-tests,
  5. answers to self-tests, and sometimes
  6. extra problems.

These self-study modules are your chief help; the Study Guide is a teacher at your side constantly and should be studied with care. 

Evaluation of Quizzes

Regardless of the combination of lectures and/or self-study you use to acquire knowledge in the course, the question is "how do you demonstrate this knowledge and receive credit for it?"  You will then complete the on-line Diagnostic Quiz. There are 10 quizzes to be completed and they are designed to test your mastery of the material.  

Quizzes will be administered through CourseLink and occur Tuesdays at 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm (consult Webadvisor to find your scheduled time), from week 3 to week 12.  The format will typically be scored out of 8 marks, with question formats:

  • 2-3 multiple choice questions
  • 1-2 calculation-based questions in which only the final answer is submitted and, 
  • 1 problem worth 4 marks, that students will complete work on paper, then upload a picture of their work into the CourseLink quiz. This question will be hand marked by the graduate teaching assistants with part marks being awarded when solutions clearly show detailed and correct steps

Students can access their quiz within the first 10 minutes of their period and will be given 40 minutes to complete their quiz from the moment their attempt begins.  This includes the time taken to upload their quiz solution into CourseLink, so ensure that your uploaded solution file is not too large – you may wish to adjust the resolution of your phone/laptop camera to balance image quality with file size.

Students are responsible for uploading the correct file; late submissions will not be accepted.  A practice quiz, Quiz #0 (not for marks), will be provided at the beginning of the course, for students to familiarize themselves with the submission process.  Quiz #0 must be completed by all students prior to Quiz #1.

10 Quizzes will be offered during the course; however, only 8 of the quizzes will count for marks in the course – this is to accommodate for students who miss a quiz due to illness or unforeseen circumstances.  If you complete more than 8 quizzes, your best 8 quiz grades will be used for the quiz evaluation portion of your final grade.  Each quiz then is worth 5% of your final grade i.e. 8 quizzes x 5% = 40%.

Alternate attempts will not be provided for missed quiz attempts, so ensure that you are prepared to begin each quiz within the 10-minute access time each week.

Quizzes begin in week 3 – Tuesdays 4:30-5:20 pm and 5:30-6:20 pm

Week Quiz
Wk 3 Tuesday Sept. 28 Quiz #1 – Study Guide 1
Wk 4 Tuesday Oct. 5 Quiz #2 – Study Guide 2
Wk 5 Tuesday *see below* Quiz #3 – Study Guide 3 (Sections 1-3)
Wk 6 Tuesday Oct. 19 Quiz #4 – Study Guide 3 (Sections 4-6)
Wk 7 Tuesday Oct. 26 Quiz #5 – Study Guide 4
Wk 8 Tuesday Nov. 2 Quiz #6 – Study Guide 5
Wk 9 Tuesday Nov. 9 Quiz #7 – Study Guide 6
Wk 10 Tuesday Nov. 16 Quiz #8 – Study Guide 7
Wk 11 Tuesday Nov. 23 Quiz #9 – Study Guide 8
Wk 12 Tuesday **see below** Quiz #10 – Study Guide 9

(Content from Study Guide 10 will be on the final exam)

* Due to the Thanksgiving break, courses will not run Tuesday Oct. 12.  Instead, students will be given 48 hours (Oct. 13,14) to complete Quiz #3.  Students will be allowed to complete up to 3 attempts of Quiz #3 during this period (best attempt score counts).  To provide immediate feedback to students, the quiz format will not include a worked problem, and will instead be comprised of multiple choice and calculation-based questions.

** Quiz #10 will also follow a format similar to Quiz #3.  Details will be provided on CourseLink.


There are 5 labs to be completed, associated with Study Guides 2, 4, 5, 7 and 9.  Experiments have been designed to be completed ‘at-home’, using equipment provided in the Lab Kit, as well some additional materials that students should be able to easily obtain on their own – for example, paper, water, sugar, coins.  These labs are designed specifically to connect the physics concepts in the course to the everyday world around you, making use of real data that students will obtain themselves.

The labs will also make use a free smart-phone/tablet applet called PhyPhox, which can be downloaded here:

Detailed instructions for each lab will be posted on CourseLink, and support will be provided through TA virtual help hours.

There is no scheduled lab time; students will be given at least one week to complete experiments

Lab Due Date
Lab #1 – Kinematics Friday Oct. 1
Lab #2 – Energy efficiency of a bouncing ball   Friday Oct. 22
Lab #3 – Momentum Friday Nov. 5
Lab #4 – Electric circuits & Ohm’s Law Friday Nov. 19
Lab #5 – Echolocation and Acoustic Resonance Friday Dec. 3

Online Homework

Online homework assignments will be provided via the interactive eBook textbook option.  The textbook has an Interactive eBook option to access the assignments. If a student is using a previous edition of the book then he/she needs to get the online homework part from the publisher. There will be a homework assignment for each study guide, with questions assigned for marks, plus additional unmarked optional questions assigned for review.  Each graded assignment will be due on the Monday preceding its quiz, to encourage students to work ahead.


There are no midterms for this course

Final Examination

The final exam for PHYS*1300 is intended to be administered on campus.  However, if the situation with COVID-19 dictates remote delivery of the exam, it will be offered online via CourseLink, using the Respondus Lockdown Browser system.  Students will be notified well in advance of the final exam details.

The final examination typically consists of 18 - 25 multiple-choice questions of equal weight. Usually there are 2-3 questions from each of the Study Guide modules. Sample final exams are available through CourseLink.

The copy of the formula sheet used for writing quizzes and is also found in your Study Guide, on CourseLink and will be provided for the final exam.
It should be noted that many students have found the final examination difficult, even with a perfect mark on the Quizzes.

Final Exam Date & Location: Thursday December 9, 2:30-4:30 pm

Obtaining Course Help

  1. Student learning will be supported by providing access to teaching assistants (TAs) who can answer questions regarding course content.  Virtual TA-help sessions will run using; access to sessions, and a schedule of office hours will be posted on CourseLink. 
  2. Your instructor will also have regular office hours posted on CourseLink.
  3. CourseLink contains a considerable number of resources to support student learning, including:
    a.    A set of 2 final examinations from previous semesters.
    b.    Complete solutions to all Study Guide Self Tests.
    c.    Complete solutions for all the textbook problems on mechanics (Chapters 7-10) and for selected problems in the remaining chapters.
    d.    Errata for the textbook.
    e.    Several online tutorials are also available, which contain explanations, examples and self-check questions. 
       i.      Vectors
       ii.    Exponential growth and decay
       iii.    Logarithms
       iv.    Trigonometry
       v.    Free body diagrams
       vi.    Graphing log paper
       vii.    Graphing simple functions
       viii.    Dimensional analysis
       ix.    Torque and rotational motion

Course Statements

Collaboration versus Copying

Scientists work alone or in groups, very often consulting fellow scientists and discussing their research problems with peers. Collaboration is a feature of scientific activity and there are many benefits to working with others. However, no ethical scientist would ever publish or claim the work of others as his or her own and generally scientists give reference to the appropriate source of ideas or techniques which are not their own.

You are a young scientist and, in this spirit, I encourage you to discuss with others as you learn the material and work on the problem assignments. However, the work that you submit as your assignment must be your own and not a copy of someone else’s work. Identical scripts will be given a mark of zero and plagiarism will be dealt with severely. I encourage you to cite your references, citing books and other articles when they are used and acknowledging discussions with those who have helped you in your understanding and completion of the problem. This is good scientific practice.

Course Evaluation Information

The Department of Physics requires student assessment of all courses taught by the Department. These assessments provide essential feedback to faculty on their teaching by identifying both strengths and possible areas of improvement. In addition, annual student assessment of teaching provides part of the information used by the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee in evaluating the faculty member's contribution in the area of teaching. The Department's teaching evaluation questionnaire invites student response both through numerically quantifiable data, and written student comments. In conformity with University of Guelph Faculty Policy, the Department Tenure and Promotions Committee only considers comments signed by students. Your instructor will see all signed and unsigned comments after final grades are submitted. Written student comments may also be used in support of a nomination for internal and external teaching awards.

NOTE: No information will be passed on to the instructor until after the final grades have been submitted.

Accuracy of Records

It is your responsibility to use CourseLink to check that your marks are recorded correctly.  Please check your record often and report any discrepancies immediately to the Quiz Room Supervisor Cindy Wells ( 


If you are away for brief periods of time due to medical, psychological or compassionate reasons, email the Quiz Room Supervisor Cindy Wells ( immediately.  There are no quiz extensions provided as the course offers 10 quizzes counting your best 8 to accommodate students who have circumstances arise throughout the semester.  If you miss the final examination because of illness or for other reasons, consult regulations in the current Undergraduate Calendar.

Course Notices

Notices pertaining to the course will be posted on CourseLink or given in lectures.  It is your responsibility to keep yourself informed regarding these special announcements.

University Statements

COVID-19 Disclaimer

Please note that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may necessitate a revision of the format of course offerings and academic schedules. Any such changes will be announced via CourseLink and/or class email. All University-wide decisions will be posted on the COVID-19 website and circulated by email.  


The University will not normally require verification of illness (doctor's notes) for fall 2020 or winter 2021 semester courses.  However, requests for Academic Consideration may still require medical documentation as appropriate.

Email Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. The grounds for Academic Consideration are detailed in the Undergraduate and Graduate Calendars.  

Drop Date

Students will have until the last day of classes to drop courses without academic penalty. The deadline to drop two-semester courses will be the last day of classes in the second semester. This applies to all students (undergraduate, graduate and diploma) except for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Associate Diploma in Veterinary Technology (conventional and alternative delivery) students. The regulations and procedures for course registration are available in their respective Academic Calendars. Undergraduate Calendar - Dropping Courses 

Copies of Out-of-class Assignments

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.


The University promotes the full participation of students who experience disabilities in their academic programs. To that end, the provision of academic accommodation is a shared responsibility between the University and the student. When accommodations are needed, the student is required to first register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Documentation to substantiate the existence of a disability is required; however, interim accommodations may be possible while that process is underway. Accommodations are available for both permanent and temporary disabilities. It should be noted that common illnesses such as a cold or the flu do not constitute a disability. Use of the SAS Exam Centre requires students to book their exams at least 7 days in advance and not later than the 40th Class Day.

Academic Integrity

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity, and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community-faculty, staff, and students-to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff, and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that encourages academic integrity. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor. Undergraduate Calendar - Academic Misconduct 

Recording of Materials

Presentations that are made in relation to course work - including lectures - cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a student, or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.


The Academic Calendars are the source of information about the University of Guelph’s procedures, policies, and regulations that apply to undergraduate, graduate, and diploma programs. Academic Calendars