Fall 2009
August 31 - December 16
Sections: 0101, 0102, 0103, 0104




PHYS270 General Physics: Electrodynamics, Light, Relativity and Modern Physics; (3 credits) Grade Method: REG/P-F/AUD.
CORE Physical Science Lab (PL) Course when take concurrently with PHYS 271. Prerequisite: PHYS260, PHYS261 and MATH241. Corequisite: PHYS271. Credit will be granted for only one of the following: PHYS270 and PHYS271 (Formerly: PHYS263) or PHYS273. Formerly PHYS263. Third semester of a three-semester calculus-based general physics course. Electrodynamics, Maxwell's equations and electromagnetic waves, geometrical optics, interference, diffraction, special theory of relativity, and modern physics. PHYS270 and PHYS271 (lab) must be taken in the same semester and the grade for the courses will be combined into a single grade for both. To pass, students must complete passing work in both PHYS270 and PHYS271. If purchasing used books additional software may be required. This can be purchased on the web and the cost is under $10.00

Lectures: TuTh...... 5:00pm- 6:15pm (PHY 1412)
Section 0101: Th........ 2:00pm- 2:50pm (PHY 4220)
Section 0102: Th........ 4:00pm- 4:50pm (PHY 1402)
Section 0103: W......... 9:00am- 9:50am (PHY 1219)
Section 0104: F......... 1:00pm- 1:50pm (PHY 1402)

Teaching Assistants:
Section 0101: Dibyendu Mandal,
Office: Physics 0104, (301) 405-8577
Office hours: M 1:30-2:30PM

Section 0102 and 0104: Shantanu Debnath,
Office: Physics 0104, (301) 405-8577
Office hours: M 11-12, W 1-2PM

Section 0103: Rashmish Mishra,
Office: Physics 4223, (301) 405-6192
Office hours: W 3-4PM

About the course
Physics 270 is the third of a three semester series in general physics offered at the University of Maryland during the 2009 Fall semester. This survey course will use algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and vector calculus, and is recommended for engineering majors. The course is a continuation of Phys260 and covers magnetism, electromagnetic induction, Maxwell’s equations and electromagnetic waves, physical and geometric optics, and some aspects of “modern physics” which include relativity and quantum phenomenon.

Required Texts
Text: Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach 2nd edition, by Randall D. Knight,. 
The course will cover Chapters 22-25 and 33-42 of Knight. The book may be purchased in either a single volume (as above) or split into five volumes. If you choose the latter option you will need to have access to volumes 3, 4, & 5. The course will utilize the "Mastering Physics" web-based tutorials and homework which may be purchased as a bundle with the book or separately. If you have purchased a "Mastering Physics" account within the previous 2 years, then your account should still be active and you do not have to pay for it again.

The book has some weaknesses. Lectures will generally follow the sequence of concepts presented in the book, but the lectures may present some of the concepts from a different perspective.

Course Web site
and click on our class under Fall 2009

The schedule should be checked often since it will be updated as the semester progresses. I will maintain a comprehensive schedule which will allow you to budget your time. It will include reading assignments to prepare for class, provide a list of due dates for homework sets, and show all scheduled quizzes and exams.

Homework assignments will be posted under the homework section of the web site and updated throughout the semester. Solutions for exams, quizzes, and homework will be posted as PDF files on the web site.

Class announcements will be sent out via a campus list server called coursemail ( See the 'Resources/Links' section of the web site for more information.

Lectures and Discussion
Students are required to attend lectures and discussions where homework assignments will be given, exams and quizzes will be announced and administered, and the course material will be presented. Lectures will consist of summary presentations and chalkboard calculations with constant student participation. Not all material will be directly covered in lectures. Students are responsible for reading and understanding all material in assigned chapters, whether or not this material is explicitly treated in the lectures.

There will be three mid-term exams, one comprehensive final exam, 14 homework assignments, and 11 quizzes. A quiz question which will closely relate to the homework will be administered every week during the Discussion section. Two of your lowest quiz scores will be dropped. Your final grade will be based on the following weightings:

3 Mid-term exams


Final Exam


(best 9 out of 11)




Homework sets


The grading will NOT follow the silly 90%=A, 80%=B, 70%=C scale familiar from high school. Rather, the association of grades with percentages will depend in large measure on the difficulty of the exams and will be set a posteriori in order to assign grades fairly. The PHYS270 component of the grade will be combined with the lab component from PHYS271 and the final grade for both courses will be based on this combined score. Remember you must separately pass each portion of the course (270 and 271) to pass the classes.

The laboratory part of the class is completely administered by a different instructor. All inquiries regarding laboratory should be directed to the Phys271 instructor. Students must complete ALL the laboratories and turn in all the lab reports to be eligible for a passing grade in the both courses! 

Homework and Quizzes
Homework will generally be assigned weekly. All problems will be from the back of the book to allow you to work on them at any time, not just at a computer terminal. However, since solutions to these problems readily exist on-line, the homework is worth very little towards your grade. Do not let this fool you! Physics can not be learned without doing many problems. Your knowledge of the material and homework problems will be constantly tested with quizzes, exams, and a comprehensive final.

There will be two kinds of assignments. One type will be assigned through the “Mastering Physics” (MP) program and will be graded electronically. The MP assignments will be due by Tuesday at beginning of lecture of the week following their assignment. No late assignments will be accepted since solutions will be posted the same evening.

The other problems will be assigned but not graded. They will appear as 'practice' problems on the MP website. However, quiz questions and some exam questions will be culled from the MP as well as these other assigned problems.

As you do the homework, keep in mind that on quizzes and exams you will be expected to explain your reasoning; simply writing down equations is not sufficient. You should practice this technique as you work through the homework.

All homework assignments count. If there is a legitimate excuse for missing a homework assignment (documented illness, documented family emergency, religious observances, participation in the University activity at the request of a University official), the average of your other homework grades will be used as a replacement of the grade for that assignment. Homework solutions will be posted on the course Web site.

Guidelines for quizzes and homework assignments: 

  • Be sure to answer all parts of each question.
  • Your problems must contain words and explanations for your steps. THIS IS A MUST.
  • Any answer must be explained with physical principles or concepts. A SIMPLE YES OR NO WILL NEVER DO.
  • If you can draw a diagram or a picture of the situation, then you must draw it.
  • Your TA will deduct points if your answer is hard to understand because of poor grammar.
  • All answers must have units.
  • To get full credit, you must show all your work!! 
  • All answers must have units.

Mastering Physics Homework
You will be allowed six tries to successfully complete each problem and will receive instant feedback on errors. Some errors may be due to using the incorrect number of significant figures. It is important first to work out a formula for the desired quantity so that you develop skills that will help you prepare for exams. Only after you have thought through the physics and derived an algebraic formula for the result should you plug in numbers. Mastering Physics sometimes offers hints when you are stuck. Ideally you should work through the problems without the hints. To discourage you from going to the hints too easily a modest deduction from the question score will be made when you call a hint.

The Mastering Physics Access Code is good for two years. Normally, students who obtained an access code when they took Physics 161 will not need to purchase a new one. If a new code is needed, beware that a new book purchased at the bookstore does not come bundled with the Mastering Physics access code. The best options are:

1.) Purchase a used book, and purchase the Mastering Physics access code at for $44.50.
2.) Buy textbook bundles with Mastering Physics directly from the publisher at They offer a 10% discount over bookstore pricing, and free FedEx shipping. The upcharge for bundling Mastering Physics with one book is only a few dollars.

Instructions for logging onto Mastering Physics are located on a pamphlet included in your text and are listed below for your convenience.

Getting started with Mastering Physics:
1. Choose a User ID and password that is different from any previous semesters. You will need a new access code for each new course.
2. Go to Find the course textbook image (Knight 2nd edition) and click on it.
3. Next you will need to register by entering:
User ID (you create)
Password (you create)
Course ID: MPJENKINS06357
Your UMID number

For any technical problems please contact the mastering physics support team by phone: (888) 547-4415 during normal business hours or by email:

Eleven 10-minute quizzes will be conducted through-out the course of the semester administered by the TA. It will be given at the end of the Discussion section. If you understood the homework problems, you should have no problem with the quiz. The best 9 quizzes will be counted towards your final grade. There will be no make-up quizzes. No calculators are allowed during quizzes. One 3"x5" index card is allowed in which you can write anything you wish on it (front and back side). Please refer to the web site for the exact schedule.

All exams are closed book. A single 4x6 index card will be allowed for each midterm exam, and two 4x6 cards will be allowed for the final exam. No calculators with memory or wireless communication are allowed. If you bring such a calculator to an exam, you will not be allowed to use it. The exams will be the full duration of the allotted time of the lecture, 1 hour and 15 minutes. The exams will include numerical constants you may need. Make-up exams will only be given under extraordinary circumstances, in which case an oral examination will be conducted. If you have a good reason that you cannot attend an exam, please talk to me before the exam so we can arrange for an oral exam to be given on an alternate date.

Rescheduling of lectures, discussions, &/or lab hours
In the case of unforeseen circumstances, lab, discussion, and lecture hours may be rescheduled. Any rescheduling will be decided during the semester as possible extenuating circumstances arise.

This Physics course is extremely fast paced and demanding.  You will be learning new concepts every lecture and missing even one lecture can make you fall behind simply because the concepts build on the ones covered in earlier sessions.  Hence, attendance to lectures and discussions are mandatory.  

Getting help:
If there is ever anything that you do not understand, get help immediately!  Do not fall behind because you were afraid to ask questions. You have many options available: you may ask me during or immediately following class, ask your TA in lab or discussion, or set up an appointment. Please check the web site for the current office hours of the instructor and TA. We also encourage you to draw on the strengths of others in this class to learn the material by forming study groups—however, plagiarizing will not be tolerated.

1) Greg Jenkins - I am the best resource for this class. if you have questions or are having difficulty with any of the material in this class, don't hesitate to ask via e-mail, or e-mail for an appointment.
2)Slawsky Clinic (1208 Physics) - offers free tutoring in Physics 270 and other subjects. Physics 270 times are MTWThF 11-12 and 1-2, see Slawsky Clinic Site.
3) TA Office Hours - if you can't make these, phone or e-mail the TA and ask to make an appointment.

Academic Honesty
Along with certain rights, students also have the responsibility to behave honorably in an academic environment.  Academic dishonesty, including cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, and plagiarism will not be tolerated.  Any abridgement of academic integrity standards will be referred directly to the Assistant Dean and forwarded to the University’s Office of Judicial Affairs.  Confirmation of such incidents can result in expulsion from the University.  Students who are uncertain as to what constitutes academic dishonesty should consult the University publication entitled Academic Dishonesty.

Of course, you must work by yourself on exams and quizzes.  You are allowed to work with other students, the physics clinic, your TA and your instructor on your homework and on the labs.  However, you should not just directly copy from them.  Doing so is not only dishonest, it will hurt your ability to do the problems on the quizzes and the exams.

You should also be aware of the University of Maryland Honor Pledge, found at The Honor Pledge is a statement undergraduate and graduate students should be asked to write by hand and sign on examinations, papers, or other academic assignments not specifically exempted by the instructor. The Pledge reads:

"I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination."

The pledge was adopted by the University Senate on April 9, 2001, and approved by the President on May 10, 2001. Full implementation is effective throughout the University on the first day of the Spring 2002 semester.

Holiday Schedule:
There is only one holiday scheduled during the semester (Thanksgiving Holiday observed on November 26 & 27, 2009). There will be no class on Thursday, November 26th.