´╗┐What 1st year physics course should I take?

This is a very common question.

We want to make sure that you're in a course that is at the right level for you considering your background in physics and math and that it helps you work towards the degree you want to get.

We offer three different 1st year 'streams' of courses spread over two terms with slightly different content, difficulty, and intended audience.

  • PHYS 120/PHYS 130 - a calculus-based sequence for students considering a degree in Physics or Astronomy
  • PHYS 110/PHYS 111 - a calculus-based survey of physics intended for Science and Engineering students
  • PHYS 102A/PHYS 102B - an algebra-based survey of physics for students in the life sciences

Further details of these courses is available in the tabs below. If you need help with your courses, drop into our Physics Aid Service (PAS).

PHYS 102A: General Physics I

  • This is the first half of an algebra-based survey of physics intended for students in the life sciences.  The companion course for PHYS 102A is PHYS 102B.
  • This is a 1.5 unit course offered in the fall term.
  • There is a 3-hour lab on alternate weeks.
  • Any student in the Faculty of Science is eligible to take this course.
  • One of MATH 100, MATH 102, MATH 109 is recommended prior to or in conjunction with PHYS 102A.

Who should consider taking PHYS 102A?

  • Students planning a degree in biology, biochemistry or microbiology
  • Students seeking to review or refresh their physics knowledge
  • Students intending to take further courses in Physics should consider PHYS 110/111 or PHYS 120/130 rather than PHYS 102A/102B

PHYS 102B: General Physics II

  • Together with PHYS 102A, this is the second half of an algebra-based survey of physics intended for students in the life sciences. 
  • This is a 1.5 unit course offered in the spring term.
  • There is a 3-hour lab on alternate weeks.
  • Any student who has completed PHYS 102A is eligible to take this course.
  • One of MATH 100, MATH 102, MATH 109 is recommended prior to or in conjunction with PHYS 102B.

Who should consider taking PHYS 102B?

  • Students planning a degree in biology, biochemistry or microbiology
  • Students seeking to review or refresh their physics knowledge
  • Students intending to take further courses in Physics should consider PHYS 110/111 or PHYS 120/130 rather than PHYS 102A/102B

PHYS 110: Introductory Physics I

  • This is the first half of a calculus-based survey of physics intended for Science and Engineering students.  The companion course for PHYS 110 is PHYS 111.
  • There is a 3-hour lab on alternate weeks.
  • This is a 1.5 unit course normally offered in both the fall and spring terms.
  • Students are normally expected to have completed Physics 12 and be registered in MATH 100 or 109.

Who should consider taking PHYS 110?

  • Students planning a degree in Mathematics, Chemistry, or Earth and Ocean Sciences
  • Students planning a degree in an Engineering program
  • Students considering a degee in Biology, Biochemistry or Microbiology
  • Students considering a degree in Physics & Astronomy
  • If you aren't sure what degree you want to do, PHYS 110 and 111 are the most versatile

PHYS 111: Introductory Physics II

  • Together with PHYS 110, this is the second half of a calculus-based survey of physics intended for Science and Engineering students.
  • There is a 3-hour lab on alternate weeks.
  • This is a 1.5 unit course normally offered in both the spring and summer terms.
  • Students are expected to have completed PHYS 110 and be registered in, or have credit for, MATH 100 or 109.

Who should consider taking PHYS 111?

  • Students planning a degree in Biology, Biochemistry or Microbiology
  • Students planning a degree in Mathematics, Chemistry or Earth and Ocean Sciences
  • Students planning a degree in an Engineering program
  • Students considering a degree in Physics & Astronomy
  • If you aren't sure what degree you want to do, PHYS 110 and 111 are the most versatile

PHYS 120: Physics I

  • This is an enriched calculus-based course on mechanics for students considering a degree in physics or astronomy.  The companion course for PHYS 120 is PHYS 130.
  • This is a 1.5 unit course offered in the fall term.
  • There is a weekly 3-hour lab.
  • Students are expected to have completed Physics 12 and be registered in MATH 100.

Who should consider taking PHYS 120?

  • Students seeking a challenging and enriched introduction to the discipline of physics
  • Students intending to continue on for a degree in physics or astronomy

PHYS 130: Physics II

  • Together with PHYS 120, this is the second half of an enriched calculus-based introduction to mechanics for students considering a degree in physics or astronomy.
  • This is a 1.5 unit course offered in the spring term.
  • There is a weekly 3-hour lab.
  • Students are expected to have completed PHYS 120 and be registered in, or have credit for, MATH 101.

Who should consider taking PHYS 130?

  • Students seeking a challenging and enriched introduction to the discipline of physics
  • Students intending to continue on for a degree in physics or astronomy

Other courses we recommend in first year

  • ASTR 101 and 102 are fun and popular introductions to astronomy and can be used as an elective.
  • ASTR 150 is offered in the spring term. If you plan a degree in astronomy you should take it.
  • CSC 110 and 115. A bit of programming is required in several degree programs (including physics and astronomy) and useful in many.
  • ENGL 135. This is required in lots of degree programs, and you have to complete the university english requirement to get a degree. First year is probably a good time to do it.

Notes:

  • Since the content of the courses is similar, you can only receive credit for PHYS 110/PHYS 111 or for PHYS 120/PHYS 30
  • If you previously obtained credit in PHYS 112, 122, or 125, please contact our undergraduate advisors for advice about what course to register in
  • All of the calculus-based courses assume you are taking MATH 100 in the fall and MATH 101 in the spring