PHYS260 Syllabus, Prof. Hill

Physics 260 is the second of a three-semester calculus-based introductory, general physics sequence designed primarily for engineering students.  The major topics included in the course are simple harmonic motion, waves, thermodynamics, electrostatics, and fundamentals of circuits.  The course consists of three parts -- Lecture, Recitation and Lab (PHYS261). The prerequisites are MATH141 and PHYS161, while PHYS261 is a corequisite that must be taken in the same semester. The grade for PHYS261 will be combined with your grade for PHYS260 and you will receive one grade. You must pass both PHYS260 and PHYS261 to receive a single passing grade!

The course web page,, contains additional information along with links that you will need during the semester. Important announcements regarding exams, changes to the schedule or other items will be issued via messages in MasteringPhysics. Please make a habit of checking for messages frequently. You are responsible for all messages issued through MasteringPhysics. To view a video tutorial on obtaining access to MasteringPhysics click here.
Lecture: MW (16:00-15:15) All sections PHY 1412
Recitation: Tu (08:00-08:50) Sec. 0201 PHY 0405
Tu (09:00-09:50) Sec. 0202 MTH 0405
Tu (11:00-11:50) Sec. 0203 MTH 0405
W (10:00-10:50) Sec. 0204 PHY 1219
W (12:00-12:50) Sec. 0205 PHY 4208

Laboratory: PHYS261, is required. You must complete PHYS261 (do all the labs) in order to pass PHYS 270.  If you believe that you have completed the lab in a previous semester, go to Student Services (PHY 1120) before the end of the second week of this semester to have your grade verified.  The lab is run separately and is organized by Prof. Ouyang this semester. All question specific to the lab should be addressed to your lab TA or Prof. Ouyang.   For more information regarding the lab please visit the lab page.
CORE Lab Science Requirement: PHYS260 and PHYS261 must be taken in the same semester to count for CORE Physical Science Lab!


Academic Integrity:

The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit

It is assumed that all students understand the academic integrity policy of the university and will neither give nor accept any unauthorized assistance on any assignment or exam in this course. It is further assumed that each student has taken the honor pledge.


General Information

    Lectures and the text are your primary source of information for the course. The lectures will consist of derivations, worked exercises and demonstrations, along with real-world examples designed to enhance your experience. To extract the most from lecture, you should read the material in the text before it is discussed in class. To help encourage everyone to stay current quizzes will be given periodically in lecture that may involve clickers. (Visit for information about clickers.) Quizzes will generally be concept based. Summary lecture notes will be posted here.
    The recitation sections will be used to review the major points from lecture each week. Homework from the previous week along with the answer to quizzes will also be discussed during the recitation period. You will have a chance to hone your problem solving techniques during the recitation period. Your TA will take attendance so you must attend the section in which you are registered to receive credit.

    Physics A Strategic Approach for Scientists and Engineers by Randall D. Knight, 2nd Edition. There are numerous books that may assist you when Knight fails to deliver an explanation to your liking. Some examples are Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics, by Serway and Jewett, University Physics by Young and Freedman, Fundamentals of Physics by Haliday, Resnick and Walker or Physics by Tipler. Some you will be able to find in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Library and some of the older editions you may be able to purchase inexpensively on the web.


    The best way to learn physics is to work problems. Thus, homework assignments will be due approximately every week. The assignments will consist of two components. The first part will involve numerical and conceptual problems mostly, and will be done electronically via MasteringPhysics. Typically, this part will be due at 08:00 on Thursdays. (See MasteringPhysics for due dates and time.) Late assignments will not be accepted!  As some of you already know, Mastering Physics will provide assistance in working problems, but at a cost of points. To discourage guessing you will not have an infinite number of tries to submit the right answer. At the same time, correct answers submitted without assistance is often rewarded with extra credit. The best way to approach this part of the homework is to do as much of a problem off-line before asking for assistance or submitting your answer. I encourage you to work with your classmates on your homework assignments to enhance your learning potential and experience. However, please note that the values for numerical problems will generally not be the same for each student so to compare results each of you will need to work out your problems symbolically as far as possible.

    The second part of the homework will be composed of a few symbolic problems that you will write up the old fashion way and hand in each Wednesday at the beginning of lecture. (See schedule for due dates.) At least one problem will be graded by your recitation TA each week. You will need to justify your answers for full credit on this part. Solutions to these problems will be reviewed in recitation. New homework assignments will be available each Thursday.

    A quiz will be given in lecture approximately once every week except for weeks when an exam is scheduled. The solutions will be discussed during recitation.  The quizzes will be based on concepts we discussed the previous week!
    There will be two midterm exams given on lecture days and one final exam. You must take the final to pass the course! The dates of the exams are listed in the schedule.  All exams will be closed book. You will be allowed one 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper (front and back) for notes. The exams will consist of concept problems, typically multiple choice or short answer, numerical problems and symbolic problems.
    A single make-up exam covering the entire semester will be given the last day of class. This exam is open to all students and can be used to replace your lowest midterm score. If you miss an exam, this test can be used in its place. There will be no other make-up exams so if you miss more than one you will receive zero points for the additional missed exams. As the makeup exam will have to be graded quickly, it will consist of multiple choice questions! 
    You can use a standard scientific calculator to all exams. Your calculator should provide arithmetic, trigonometric, exponential, logarithmic functions, and arbitrary roots and powers. 
    Grade Budget: 

    Homework 15%
    Quizzes 10%
    Midterm Exams 25%
    Final Exam 25%
    Laboratory 25%
    Bonus Points
    There are various ways to earn bonus points.  Those who attend discussion sections regularly will receive the benefit of the doubt in borderline cases.  Generally, there will be a bonus question on exams.  Finally, there could be one or more pop quizzes in lecture. 

    Letter Grades
    Final letter grades are based upon the distribution of class scores and will not be known until the end of the semester. Recognizing that the actual divisions will most likely be different, you may use the following as an approximate guide.

    A: 100 - 80%
    B: 70 - 80%
    C: 55 - 70%
    D: 45 - 55%
    F: 0 - 45%

    Regardless of your point accumulation, you will earn an F for the course if you
    (1) do not take and pass the lab or (2) you do not take the final! 

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