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 announcements, the schedule, supplemental material, scores and various links that you may find helpful during the semester. Please make a habit of checking for messages frequently. You are responsible for all messages issued through course webpage.
Lecture: MW (15:00 - 16:15) All sections PHY 1412
Recitation: Tu (08:00 - 08:50) Sec. 0201 PHY 0405
Tu (09:00 - 09:50) Sec. 0202 MTH 4220
Tu (11:00 - 11:50) Sec. 0203 MTH 4220
W (10:00 - 10:50) Sec. 0204 PHY 1219

Laboratory: PHYS261, is required. You must complete PHYS261 (do all the labs) in order to pass PHYS 260.  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, the text and supplemental reading materials are your primary source of information for the course. The lectures will consist of a discussion of the underlying principles of the material that will include derivations and motivations of the basic equations, worked examples, demonstrations and connections to the real world. To extract the most from lecture, you should read the material in the text before it is discussed in class. Periodically, there will be pop quizzes during the lecture. The purpose of these quizzes is two-fold. To help you keep up and to help me know if I am being successful transmitting the material to you. A subset of these quizzes will count toward your grade. Summaries of the lectures highlighting keep points along with supplementary material will be posted here.
    The recitation sections will be used to review the major points from lecture and go over homework and quizzes each week. As mentioned below, you will have a quiz most weeks during recitation. Attendance is mandatory and 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. (See MasteringPhysics for due dates and time.) Late electronic assignments will loose 1% of the total possible grade per hour late!  As some of you already know, Mastering Physics will provide assistance in working problems and is a good way to learn the basic concepts. To view a video tutorial on obtaining access to MasteringPhysics please click here.

    The second part of the homework will be consist of problems to be worked and handed in off line. Many of these will be symbolic problems. These will be due on Wednesday at the end of lecture. (See schedule for specific due dates.) At least one problem will be graded by your recitation TA each week and the rest will be scanned for completeness. You will need to justify your answers for full credit on these problems. Solutions to these problems will be reviewed in recitation and posted on the web. New homework assignments will be available each Thursday. No homework assignment will be due the week of an exam.

    A quiz will be given during recitation and will be based on the previous week's homework. There will be no quiz the week of exams. There wil also be pop quizzes periodically during lecture.
    There will be three 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 only! 
    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.

    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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Last modified Saturday, August 28, 2009           © 2009 University of Maryland