Physics (PHYS) 201

Introductory Physics II (Revision 5)

PHYS 201 Course Cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook) and includes a home lab component (Order the lab kit online). This course is charged a lab fee.

PHYS 201 lab exemption

Detailed Syllabus and Assessment (PDF)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: PHYS 200 or PHYS 204 or equivalent.

Precluded Course: PHYS 274

Centre: Centre for Science

Téluq equivalency: PHY 1022

PHYS 201 is not available for challenge.

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PHYS 201 is a junior algebra-based physics course, which provides introduction to simple harmonic motion, thermodynamics, and electricity. The course includes a laboratory component that involves quality hands-on experiments. PHYS 201 combined with either PHYS 200 or PHYS 202 delivers the equivalent of one year of introductory algebra-based physics.


PHYS 201 comprises the following five units:

  • Unit 1: Simple Harmonic Motion
  • Unit 2: Heat and Kinetic Theory
  • Unit 3: Thermodynamics
  • Unit 4: Electrostatics
  • Unit 5: Circuit Theory

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, a student should be able to

  • explain thermal expansion and solve problems of linear and volume change, for solids and liquids, resulting from change in temperature.
  • describe the ideal gas law and solve problems involving changes in mass, volume, pressure, and temperature of gases.
  • define latent heat and specific heat capacity and apply them to solving problems in calorimetry.
  • outline and interpret the first and second laws of thermodynamics and use them to solve problems involving heat engines.
  • define the electric charge and use Coulomb’s law to compute the electric forces between static point charges.
  • describe the electric field and the electric potential due to a set of static point charges, and use algebra to solve related problems.
  • define voltage, current, and resistance and solve problems involving Ohm’s law and Kirchhoff’s rules to analyze direct current circuits.
  • define capacitance and solve problems involving the charging and discharging of capacitors.
  • demonstrate skills related to performing simple experiments in thermodynamics and electricity, including experimental setup, data acquisition, data analysis, and communication of scientific results.

Lab Component

PHYS 201 includes a compulsory lab component that comprises six hands-on experiments performed in a place of the student’s choice. Essential tools and equipment can be borrowed from the Athabasca University Science Lab, packaged in the Home Lab Kit. The student is expected to provide additional common household materials. Assessment is based on written lab reports. The following lab experiments are explained in the PHYS 201 course materials:

  • Lab 1: The Simple Pendulum
  • Lab 2: Thermal Expansion of Water
  • Lab 3: Charles's Law
  • Lab 4: Specific Heat and Heat of Fusion
  • Lab 5: Ohm's Law
  • Lab 6: Charging and Discharging of a Capacitor

Request the lab kit online

Students may qualify for partial or full transfer of lab credit obtained for equivalent lab work at another institution.


The final grade is based on the marks achieved in two assignments, six lab reports, and two examinations. To receive credit, the student must achieve a minimum of fifty percent (50%) on the final examination and on the lab component, and an overall course grade of at least D (50 percent). The following table describes the credit weight associated with each course requirement:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 10%
Lab Reports 20%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 40%
Total 100%

Note that the Home Lab Kit must be received by the University before a transcript can be issued. To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Giancoli, D. C. (2014). Physics: Principles with applications (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Resources

All other learning resources will be available online.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 5, November 9, 2020.

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