Physics for Life Sciences (PHYS*1080)

Code and section: PHYS*1080*01

Term: Winter 2021

Instructor: Stefan Kycia, James Howard


Course Information

Course Prerequisite: (1 of 4U Physics, OAC Physics, PHYS*1020, PHYS*1300), one 4U or OAC Mathematics course 
Credit Weighting: 0.50 credits


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.

Required Material (Two Options)


Text Book 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:

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

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

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*1080).


Instructor Office Email
Stefan Kycia  Off campus
James Howard Off campus


Lecture Sections

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

Section Day Time Location
01 Tuesday & Thursday 10:00 am – 11:20 am Zoom*
02 Tuesday & Thursday 1:00 pm - 2:20 pm Zoom*
03  Wednesday 7:00 pm-9:50 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
1 1-2 Jan 11-15 -    Kinematics 9
2 3-4 Jan 18-22 -    Forces 10
3 5-6 Jan 25-29 -    Momentum, Work, Energy
-    Rotational Motion
4 7-8 Feb 1-5 -    Rotational Motion 11
5 9-10 Feb 8-12 -    Rotational Motion
-    Elasticity
    FEB. 15-19 WINTER BREAK  
6 11-12 Feb 22-26 -    Scaling
-    Pressure
7 13-14 Mar 1-5 -    Barometric equation, surface tension
-    Non-Viscous Fluid Flow
15-16 Mar 8-12 -    Viscous Fluid Flow
-    Pulsatile Flow, Bolus Flow, Turbulence
9 17-18 Mar 15-19 -    Turbulence, Aneurysms
-    Perrin’s Experiment 
10 19-20 Mar 22-26 -    Sedimentation
-    Diffusion
16, 17
11 21-22 Mar 29-Apr 2 -    Osmotic Pressure
-    Heat
17, 18
12 23-24 Apr 5-9 -    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 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 a perfect mark on the Quizzes.

Final Exam Date: Thursday April 15, 11:30 am – 1:30 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 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 evenings, Tuesdays & 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 (Mondays at 2:30pm or 3:30 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.  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 – Mondays 2:30-3:20 pm and 3:30-4:20pm

Wk 3 Monday - Quiz #1 – Study Guide 9
Wk 4 Monday - Quiz #2 – Study Guide 10
Wk 5 Monday– Quiz #3 – Study Guide 11 (Sections 1-3)
Wk 6 Monday– Quiz #4 – Study Guide 11 (Sections 4-6)
Wk 7 Monday– Quiz #5 – Study Guide 12
Wk 8 Monday– Quiz #6 – Study Guide 13
Wk 9 Monday– Quiz #7 – Study Guide 14
Wk 10 Monday– Quiz #8 – Study Guide 15
Wk 11 Monday– Quiz #9 – Study Guide 16
Wk 12 Monday– 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 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 dates listed below.

Lab #1 lab sessions in Week #5 – Torque and Rotational Equilibrium (due Fri. Feb. 12)
Lab #2 lab sessions in Week #8 – Viscosity of Fluids (due Fri. Mar.12)
Lab #3 lab sessions in Week #11 – Thermal Motion of Molecules (due Thurs. Apr.1)

Obtaining Course Help

  1. The Physics on-line Help hours and zoom access are posted on Courselink. 
  2. Help may be obtained from the lecturer during on-line office hours which will be posted on Courselink.
  3. 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 online 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 ( 


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.


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. 

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.