Choosing Units in Junior Physics

The School of Physics offers junior physics units of study to students in the Faculties of Arts, Education, Engineering, Economics and Science.

Students in these Faculties have the choice of taking mainstream junior physics at one of two different levels: advanced or normal. Both levels are equally valuable as self contained introductions to physics for students who are intending to major in other disciplines and as solid foundations for higher year physics units of study possibly leading to a major in physics.

ADVANCED LEVEL: PHYS 1901 Advanced and PHYS 1902 Advanced are intended for students who have a strong background in physics and an interest in studying more advanced topics. The courses cover more material than the normal level and in greater mathematical detail.

SPECIAL STUDIES LEVEL: PHYS 1903 and PHYS 1904 Special Studies Program are intended for a small number of students with a very strong record in HSC Physics (or equivalent). These SSP units feature common lectures and tutorials with the Advanced level units, but a unique laboratory program, including research experience.

NORMAL LEVEL: provides a solid foundation in the concepts of physics. In first semester most students will choose from one of two options: PHYS 1001 Regular and PHYS 1002 Fundamentals. Your choice of option will depend on your background in physics. In second semester, there are again two options to choose from: PHYS 1003 Technological and PHYS 1004 Environmental and Life Sciences. This time your choice will be on the basis of interest, professional relevance and your plans for second year.

Other physics courses at Junior level are available. However, these courses do not by themselves provide the background necessary for studying physics at higher levels. They are

PHYS 1500 Astronomy

and Computational Science units

COSC 1003 Introduction to Computational Science
COSC 1903 Introduction to Computational Science (Advanced)

The Science Faculty Handbook provides detailed information on all Junior Physics units of study. The comments below are provided to help in your choice of units, but the information in the Faculty Handbooks ultimately defines what combinations of units are possible.

How to make the choice between advanced and normal levels

Your choice of level in mainstream junior physics in semester 1 will be governed by your background and experience at high school level. To enrol in PHYS 1901 Advanced you must have a mark of 85 or above in HSC Physics or equivalent. To enrol in PHYS 1903 SSP you must have a mark of 92 or above in HSC Physics or equivalent. It is possible to change your enrolment after your first semester. You may enrol in PHYS 1902 Advanced on successfully completing PHYS 1901 Advanced (or vice versa) or on consultation with the Head of Junior Physics if you gain Distinction or better (75 or above) in the Junior Physics courses at the normal level. You may enrol in PHYS 1904 SSP on consultation with the Head of Junior Physics if you gain 80 or above in PHYS1901 Advanced.

How to choose your options at the normal level

The PHYS 1001 Regular option is for those who studied physics at high school level and scored 65 or more in HSC Physics.

The PHYS 1002 Fundamentals option is primarily for those who have not studied physics before, or who scored less than 65 in HSC Physics.

In the case of the second semester options, your choice should be determined by your own interests and the direction of your future studies. Students from either first semester option will be able to move into either second semester option. Students enrolling in the Fundamentals option should not worry, as the topics covered and the depth of knowledge gained will be adequate for either second semester option.

If you are planning to go on to Intermediate (2nd year) Physics we recommend you do PHYS 1003 Technological in second semester. PHYS 1004 Environmental & Life Science is sufficient but we recommend some supplementary reading before the second semester of Intermediate Physics.

Depending on your choice of units, the textbook you need may be different in first and second semesters. We will facilitate exchange of textbooks between students to ensure you only need buy one textbook for the year.

Advice for students entering physics with no prior knowledge

The PHYS 1002 Fundamentals unit has been designed especially for students who have no background in physics. If you are in this category, this course is for you. It is extremely difficult to make a success of the PHYS 1001 Regular unit with no prior knowledge; you are better off gaining a secure grounding of the subject starting with the basics.

There will be weekly tutorials to help you understand the lecture material and its applications.

You should also consider the bridging course available in early February.

Maths units to do alongside Physics

It is assumed that you will do Maths units alongside your Physics units. In the first semester the recommended concurrent Maths units are 1001 and MATH 1002 (or MATH 1901 and MATH 1902 at the advanced level). In the second semester the recommended concurrent Maths units are MATH 1003 (or MATH 1903 the advanced level) and MATH 1005 (or MATH 1905 at the advanced level).

Other Units of Study

Other Units of Study are really up to you. We recommend you choose subjects that interest you, while always trying to maximise your options for future years. Keep in mind where you hope to be in a year or two. For example, if you are intending to major in Nanoscience, make sure you satisfy the prerequisites for units you will need to take in your Senior (3rd) year.

More questions?

Junior Physics questions are best directed to the . For general enquiries contact Room 210, ground floor, Physics Building or phone +61 2 9351 3037.