College of Science, Engineering and Technology
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College of Science, Engineerin and Technology

NSU - Norfolk State University
PHY 161 : Syllabus

Text:Fundamentals of Physics, Halliday, Resnick and Walker, 6th Edition.

Credit: 3 Hours

Course Description: PHY161 is a calculus-based physics course dealing with the topics of electricity and magnetism. Emphasis will be placed on basic concepts and principles and their application to science and technology. One of the objectives of 20th century Physics has been to synthesize the basic principles of Nature determined in earlier centuries and, thereby extends our comprehension of the way the natural world works. The major objective of the second semester of an introductory course in physics is to continue to develop your ability to use the language and concepts that physics and other sciences use to describe electric and magnetic phenomena - why and how. This language includes the important physical ideas of force and energy and will be used to describe simple electro-magnetic systems. If time permits, simple harmonic motion and modern physics topics will also be discussed.

You will be asked to explain observations of the world about us using the language of physics and to predict outcomes of experiments using these ideas. You will frequently find that you must struggle to overcome your prior notions about the ideas being introduced. It is highly recommended that you also register for the laboratory course, PHY 161L, to apply the principles learned in lecture to real data.

This course also addresses the development of a student's abilities in areas which some find quite demanding and difficult: (i) to effectively communicate and use scientific ideas, (ii) to employ quantitative and mathematical methods to describe and solve scientific and other practical problems and (iii) to think critically and analytically.

Prerequisites: A solid foundation in algebra, trigonometry and coordinate geometry is presumed. Successful completion of one semester of calculus is preferred, but a co-enrollment in calculus is acceptable. A previous course in physics (either high school or college) is required. A working knowledge of spreadsheet software (e.g. Microsoft Excel) and Internet software is recommended.

Course Requirements: The student should have the ability to explain the basic physical concepts studied in this course both verbally and through writing. The student should also be able to solve problems using qualitative and quantitative arguments. A combination of graded homework, written tests, interactive classroom exercises, short quizzes and a comprehensive final examination will be used to evaluate student learning. Demonstrated mastery of the subject matter will earn the student an "A" grade. Other levels of demonstrated competency will be rewarded with appropriately adjusted grades.

Evaluation: Grades Assigned:
  HW, Quizzes + In-class participation: 25% A: 90 and above
  3 Tests 50% B: 80 - 89
  Final Exam   25% C: 70 - 79
    D: 60 - 69
F: 59 and below


Reading will be assigned prior to each lecture. Given the rapid pace of this course, it is imperative that you read ahead to have some idea of the topics to be covered in that lecture. In addition, short Reading Quizzes will be administered in the first 5-7 minutes of the lecture (at least one such quiz per week). These will be based on the assigned reading and are designed only to check that you have indeed carefully read the assigned material. An innovative interactive student response system is being pioneered in the Physics department and you will get a chance to use it for the Reading Quizzes in PHY 161.

Traditional homework problems will be assigned from each chapter covered in class. You should work these problems out in collaboration with other classmates. Homework will not be collected by the instructor, but can be discussed during the Recitation Section. Quizzes will use an open-homework policy and tests will reflect the types of problems assigned in the homework. Thus it is in your best interests to diligently work through the assigned problems. This course may utilize a computerized homework grading system - either WebAssign or the UT Homework System. Further details will be provided in class.

This course may utilize a computerized homework grading system for some assignments. Further details will be provided in class.


Every reasonable accommodation will be made for students with disabilities (either physical or mental). This is covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Students with disabilities should notify the Instructor immediately.

Attendance in class is mandatory. NSU policy grants a student no more than 3 unexcused absences. There will be no make up quizzes.

Online Learning:

A Blackboard site will be set up to accompany this course. A course schedule and other activities will be posted there.

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