Physics for Life Sciences II (PHYS*1070)

Code and section: PHYS*1070*01

Term: Winter 2021

Instructor: Carl Svensson, James Howard


Course Information

General Information

Prerequisites: (1 of 4U Physics, OAC Physics, PHYS*1020), 4U or OAC Mathematics
Course Credit Weight: 0.5


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.


Physics underpins most aspects of modern technology and medicine. For example, the development of the field of atomic physics resulted in sub-fields such as electronics, microchips and computers, nuclear medicine and radiation treatment of cancers. This course provides an overview of topics in physics that are of particular importance to the life and biological sciences. The specific topics chosen for PHYS*1070 make it particularly suited for students in the biological sciences or environmental science.

Course Goals

The primary goal of this course is the presentation of selected principles and topics in physics with applications to living organisms. A second goal is the enhancement of skills in quantitative analysis and problem solving. Further, the method of presentation (modules, study guide) develops skills in time management, self-study and self motivation. At the conclusion of the course the student will have increased awareness of how the principles and methods of physics are applicable to living systems.

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 be able to:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to think critically and to use appropriate concepts to analyze qualitatively 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.

Required Material



  • Textbook: PHYSICS FOR THE BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 5TH EDITION, Williams M.L, Sullivan D.E, Renninger G.H, McFarland E.L, Hunt J.L. Available in the Campus Bookstore.
  • Study Guide Manual (Winter 2021 printing)
    Note: This course outline includes important dates and deadlines and should be read 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:

In addition, the following items are also available via Courselink:

a. Sample Final Examinations
b. Sample Quiz questions for each study guide
c. Solutions to Self-tests in the Study Guides

Course Administration

Main Course Contact

Quiz Room Supervisor Office Email
Cindy Wells Off campus

Please contact the Quiz Room Supervisor with all course related inquiries and immediately email to report any illness or errors in your Courselink record. Include your course code (phys*1070).


Lecturer Office Email
James Howard Off campus
Carl Svennson Off campus

Lecture Sections

Additional details for lecture structure can be found below in the “Course Structure” section.

Section Day Time Location
01 Monday/Wednesday/Friday 12:30 pm – 1:20 pm Zoom*
02 Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10:30 am - 11:20 am Zoom*
03 Monday/Wednesday/Friday 2:30 pm - 3:20 pm Zoom*

*links to Zoom lecture-streaming can be found in Courselink, in the Content section

Lecture Schedule

Week Lecture Date Topic(s) Study Guide
1 1-3 January 11 - Introduction to waves
- Waves and traveling waves
- Superposition and standing waves
2 4-6 January 18 - Acoustic resonance
- Energy, power and intensity of sound
- The ear
3 7-9 January 25 - Snell’s Law
- The visual process
- Refraction at a spherical surface
4 10-12 February 1 - Lenses
- General object-image concepts
- The human eye, eye defects and their correction
5 13-15 February 8 - Electromagnetic waves
- Diffraction and interference
- Resolution
    FEB. 15-19 WINTER BREAK  
6 16-18 February 22 - Wave properties of particles
- Orbitals; the wave equation
7 19-21 March 1 - Energy levels and light absorption
- Fluorescence, phosphorescence (concepts) & Spectrophotometer
- Linear molecules
8 22-24   - Ring molecules
- Beer’s law
- Rotation and vibration
- Fluorescence and phosphorescence (calculations)
9 25-27 March 15 - Radioactive decay, half-life
- Absorption of radiation
- Radiation dose
10 28-30 March 22 - Coulomb’s law
- Fields and potentials
11 31-32 March 29 - Current, voltage and circuits
- Ohm’s law
- Simple circuits
12 33-35 April 5 - Final exam info
- Problems and review

Note: The information in the Lecture Schedule “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!

Course Assessment

Assessment Weight
Quizzes 10 quizzes earning best 8 grades x 6% each 48%
Labs 3 labs, each worth 3% 9%
Final Exam
(see below for information on quiz deadlines and topics)
TOTAL 100%

Evaluation of Quizzes

There are 10 quizzes; your best 8 grades make up the quiz evaluation portion of your final grade. Quizzes will contain a combination of multiple choice, arithmetic questions, plus a worked problem that students submit by uploading a photo of their work, to be assessed, with an opportunity for part marks to be awarded. Each quiz attributes 6% of your final grade i.e. 8 x 6% = 48%

Final Examination

The final examination typically consists of 18 - 25 multiple-choice questions of equal weight. Usually there are 2-3 questions from each of the SGs. 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 and attached to the final exam.
It should be noted that many students have found the final examination difficult, even with an excellent mark on the Quizzes.

Final Exam Date: Saturday, April 24, 2:30-4:30 pm

Midterms: There are no midterms for this course

Course Structure


Many thousands of students have taken this course and almost every semester has seen some modification in the operation of the course. The present version of the study materials incorporates a large number of constructive suggestions made by students. We hope you will continue to point out errors, omissions and weaknesses so that the course and its teaching materials can be regularly upgraded. We are confident that this thoroughly tested learning concept will continue to be met with enthusiastic approval from the majority of our students.


Lectures will be delivered on-line, as outlined in the schedule above. The lectures will consist of both asynchronous (pre-recorded) and synchronous (live) components. Pre-recorded lectures will be made available on Courselink the week prior to the lecture schedule. Students can view these lectures at their own pace. Live lectures will be conducted Monday, Wednesday and/or Fridays at the scheduled lecture times, using “Zoom” video conferencing. Links to Zoom lectures can also be found in Courselink.

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.


The Handbook contains the eight Study Guide modules (SG 1 to 8) for this course - (please see above). These eight modules cover the entire course and are designed so that you need never actually attend a lecture if you follow their advice scrupulously). Each module provides you with:

  • a brief introductory discussion of what the module is about,
  • the educational objectives of the module,
  • a detailed study guide (reading and problem lists, etc.)
  • self-tests,
  • answers to problems, and sometimes
  • 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.

Diagnostic 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 via Courselink and take place during your scheduled weekly seminar time (Tuesdays at 1:30 pm or 2:30 pm, according to the section you registered in).

Each quiz is designed to be able to complete in 40 minutes but we will leave the quiz open for 1.5x which is 60 minutes. You must access the quiz within the first 14 minutes of your scheduled quiz period. Students who are accommodated above 1.5x must contact SAS. The quiz will consist of multiple choice and calculation-based questions (in which only the final answer is submitted) plus 1 worked problem worth 4 marks. For the worked problem, students will write a complete solution, on paper, then upload a picture of their work in the answer-space for this question**. This question will be hand marked by the graduate teaching assistants, with part marks awarded – so be sure to write a detailed solution!

You will receive the mark earned out of 10 which will be evaluated at 6% for each of your highest 8 earned grades resulting in the quiz portion being evaluated at 48% of your final course grade. (Practice quiz questions are available on Courselink. Sample quizzes #1-#5 reflect an older quiz structure, where each quiz covers the content of two of your online quizzes. Despite the different structure, the practice quizzes provide an indication of scope and level of the content for your online quizzes.

**Additional details/instructions will be provided on Courselink

Quizzes begin in week 3 – Tuesdays 1:30-2:20 pm and 2:30-3:20pm

Week Day Notes
Wk 3 Tuesday Quiz #1 – Study Guide 1
Wk 4 Tuesday Quiz #2 – Study Guide 2
Wk 5 Tuesday Quiz #3 – Study Guide 3 (Sections 1-3)
Wk 6 Tuesday Quiz #4 – Study Guide 3 (Sections 4-5)
Wk 7 Tuesday Quiz #5 – Study Guide 4 (Sections 1-2)
Wk 8 Tuesday Quiz #6 – Study Guide 4 (Sections 3-4)
Wk 9 Tuesday Quiz #7 – Study Guide 5
Wk 10 Tuesday Quiz #8 – Study Guide 6
Wk 11 Tuesday Quiz #9 – Study Guide 7
Wk 12 Tuesday Quiz #10 – Study Guide 8


There are 3 online labs to be completed, associated with Study Guides 1, 6 and 7 . The labs can be completed independently; however, students may access the zoom 50-minute online lab sessions (zoom access will be posted in courselink), in which guidance will be provided by teaching assistants who will cover lab tasks and facilitate small group discussions. Labs will be due at the end of the day (11:59 pm) on the listed dates below.

  • Lab #1 lab sessions in Week #4 – Acoustics (due Fri. Feb.5)
  • Lab #2 lab sessions in Week #9 – Spectroscopy (due Fri. Mar.19)
  • Lab #3 lab sessions in Week #11 – Radiation (due Thurs. Apr. 1)

Obtaining Help in the Course

  1. The Physics on-line Help hours and zoom access are posted on Courselink.
  2. The Solutions to the Self-Tests (which are on reserve in the Library) and the set of 3 sample final examinations will be helpful (see page Error! Bookmark not defined.). These are available on Courselink.
  3. The following can be accessed from the internet via Courselink:
    a. Dimensional analysis
    b. Trigonometry
    c. Logarithms
    d. Graphing simple functions
    e. Graphing log paper
    f. Oscillating functions
    g. Graphing
    h. Exponential growth and decay
    i. Solutions to the Self-Test

Course and University Policies

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph takes a serious view of academic misconduct and will severely penalize students, faculty and staff who are found guilty of offences associated with misappropriation of others' work, misrepresentation of personal performance and fraud, improper access to scholarly resources, and obstructing others in pursuit of their academic endeavors. 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. Each student is assumed to be familiar with the regulations surrounding academic misconducts, as spelled out in the Undergraduate Calendar academic misconduct section.

"In this course, your instructor will be using Turnitin, integrated with the CourseLink Dropbox tool, to detect possible plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration or copying as part of the ongoing efforts to maintain academic integrity at the University of Guelph.

All submitted assignments will be included as source documents in the reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. Use of the service is subject to the Usage Policy posted on the site."

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.

E-mail 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.

Drop Date

The last date to drop one-semester courses, without academic penalty, is Monday April 12, 2021. For regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses, see the Undergraduate Calendar “Dropping Courses” section.

From time to time, notices pertaining to the course will be posted on Courselink, given in lectures and/or posted on courselink. It is your responsibility to keep yourself informed regarding these special announcements.


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community's shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible. SAS councillors will email me (Cindy Wells) stating your approved accommodations which will be incorporated into quizzes and the final exam.

For more information, contact SAS at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email or refer to the SAS website.

Recording of Materials

Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or guest lecturer.

Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.
Live (Zoom) lectures may be recorded by the instructor and posted in Courselink; you will be notified of this at the beginning of the lecture.

Use of Personal Information

Personal information is used by University officials in order to carry out their authorized academic and administrative responsibilities and also to establish a relationship for alumni and development purposes. The University of Guelph’s policy on the Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Final Examination Conflicts

The University’s policy regarding examination conflicts, as stated in the Undergraduate Calendar, is as follows: “Students who drop and add courses are required to consult the examination timetable to avoid conflicts in examination times. Written approval must be obtained from the dean or director and the instructor-in-charge of the course to register in courses that have conflicting examination times.”

Course Evaluation

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.

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