Physics for Life Sciences (PHYS*1080)

Code and section: PHYS*1080*01

Term: Fall 2020

Instructor: Stefan Kycia, Robert Wickham


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.


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*1080 (mechanics with an emphasis on fluid mechanics) 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 at least 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.
  3. Demonstrate basic experimental skills by the analyzing experimental results with due regards to minimizing measurement error.

Required Material (Two Options)


Textbook and Study Guides

OPTION A: Students who have taken PHYS*1300
Textbook:  You can continue using your PHYS*1300 text “Physics: An Algebra-based Approach”.  
Study Guide Manual (Autumn 2020 printing)

OPTION B: Students who have/will take PHYS*1070
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 (Autumn 2020 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:

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

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

  • Solutions to Self-Tests in the Study Guides
  • Two Sample Final Examinations
  • Textbook Problem Solutions for all the mechanics problems (Chapters 7-10) and for selected problems in the remaining chapters.
  • Computer Tutorials on various topics (list on page 11)
  • Errata for the textbook.
  • Sample quiz questions for each Study Guide.

Course Administration

Main Course Contact

Quiz Room Supervisor Office Extension Email
Cindy Wells  SSC1101A  52445

Please contact the Quiz Room Supervisor with all course related inquiries and immediately email to report any illness or errors in your Courselink record.


Instructor Office Email
Robert Wickham Off campus
Stefan Kycia Off campus

Lecture Sections

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

Section Day Time Location
01 Thursday 2:30 pm – 3:20 pm Zoom*
02 Thursday 11:30 am -12:20 pm Zoom*
03 Wednesday 7:00 pm-7:50 pm Zoom*

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

Tentative Lecture Schedule

Week Lecture Week of Topic(s) Study Guide
0 & 1 1-3 Sept 10-11
Sept 14-18
-    Kinematics, 
-    Forces 
2 4-5 Sept 21-25 -    Forces
-    Momentum, Work & Energy
3 6-7 Sept 28-Oct 2 -    Energy
-    Rotational Motion
4 8-9 Oct 5-9 -    Rotational Motion 11
5 10 Oct 14-16 -    Elasticity 12
6 11-12 Oct 19-23 -    Scaling
-    Pressure
7 13-14 Oct 26-30 -    Barometric equation, surface tension
-    Non-Viscous Fluid Flow
8 15-16 Nov 2-6 -    Viscous Fluid Flow
-    Pulsatile Flow, Bolus Flow, Turbulence
9 17-18 Nov 9-13 -    Turbulence, Aneurysms
-    Perrin’s Experiment
10  19-20 Nov 16-20 -    Sedimentation
-    Diffusion
16, 17
11 21-22 Nov 23-27 -    Osmotic Pressure
-    Heat
17, 18
12 23-24 Nov 30-Dec 4 -    Heat
-    Review, Info re Final Exams

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!


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 and your best 8 grades make up the quiz evaluation portion of your final grade.  Quizzes are marked out of 10 points and you awarded a mark out of 10.  Each quiz attributes 6% of your final grade ie 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 also found in your Study Guide is attached to 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:  December 7, 2020 11:30am-1:30pm

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 Wednesday evening & Thursdays 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.

Study Guide

The Study Guide (SG) contains the ten modules (Study Guides 9 to 18) 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.

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 (Fridays at 1:30 pm or 2:30 pm, according to the section you registered in).

Each quiz will last 25 minutes and will be out of ten marks. It will consist of 3 multiple choice questions, 3 calculation-based questions (in which only the final answer is submitted) and 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.  There is no quiz on Study Guide 18, although there will be at least 2 questions on Study Guide 18 on the final examination.  (Practice quiz questions are available on Courselink.  Sample quizzes #6-#10 reflect an older quiz structure, where each quiz covers the content of two of your online quizzes.  For example, Quiz #6 contains questions from Kinematics, Newton’s Laws, Momentum & Energy.  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 – Fridays 1:30-2:20 pm and 2:30-3:20pm

  • Wk 3 Friday October 2 - Quiz #1 – Study Guide 9
  • Wk 4 Friday October 9 - Quiz #2 – Study Guide 10
  • Wk 5 Friday October 16 – Quiz #3 – Study Guide 11:  Rotational kinematics & torque
  • Wk 6 Friday October 23 – Quiz #4 – Study Guide 11:  Rotational Dynamics
  • Wk 7 Friday October 30 – Quiz #5 – Study Guide 12
  • Wk 8 Friday November 6 – Quiz #6 – Study Guide 13
  • Wk 9 Friday November 13 – Quiz #7 – Study Guide 14
  • Wk 10 Friday November 20 – Quiz #8 – Study Guide 15
  • Wk 11 Friday November 27 – Quiz #9 – Study Guide 16
  • Wk 12 Friday December 4 – Quiz #10 – Study Guide 17


There are 3 online labs to be completed, associated with Study Guides 11, 14 and 17.  The labs can be completed independently; however, students may sign up for 50-minute online lab sessions, in which guidance will be provided by teaching assistants who will cover lab tasks and facilitate small group discussions.  As the semester progresses, an online scheduling tool will be made available in Courselink, in which students can sign up for lab sessions.  Labs will be due at the end of the week (Fridays, 11:59 pm).

  • Lab #1 lab sessions in Week #4 – Torque and Rotational Equilibrium (due Fri. Oct. 9)
  • Lab #2 lab sessions in Week #8 – Viscosity of Fluids (due Fri. Nov. 6)
  • Lab #3 lab sessions in Week #11 – Thermal Motion of Molecules (due Fri. Nov. 27)

Obtaining Course Help

a)    The Physics on-line Help hours are posted on Courselink. 
b)    Help may be obtained from the lecturer during on-line office hours which will be posted on Courselink.
c)    The following items are available via Courselink:

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 computerized tutorials are available.  The useful tutorials for this course are:

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 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 ( As an aid, a ‘Personal Record Form’ is provided on Courselink. You should use this form to record your quiz attempts, etc., and from time to time check the computer record against your personal record.


If you are away for brief periods of time due to medical, psychological or compassionate reasons, email the Quiz Room Supervisor Cindy Wells ( immediately.  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 Friday, December 4. For regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses, see the Undergraduate Calendar “Dropping Courses” section.


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.

The University of Guelph’s primary mode of course delivery has shifted from face-to-face instruction to remote and online learning due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, some learning activities (e.g., synchronous lectures or student presentations) may be recorded by faculty, instructors and TAs and posted to CourseLink for grading and dissemination; students may be recorded during these sessions. 
The following statements may be added to the course outline and it is recommended these are discussed in any synchronous courses during the first week of classes.  

By enrolling in a course, unless explicitly stated and brought forward to their instructor, it is assumed that students agree to the possibility of being recorded during lecture, seminar or other “live” course activities, whether delivery is in-class or online/remote.

If a student prefers not to be distinguishable during a recording, they may:

  1. turn off their camera
  2. mute their microphone 
  3. edit their name (e.g., initials only) upon entry to each session
  4. use the chat function to pose questions.  

Students who express to their instructor that they, or a reference to their name or person, do not wish to be recorded may discuss possible alternatives or accommodations with their instructor. 

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. 

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.