Physics (PHYS) 204

Physics for Scientists and Engineers I (Revision 3)

PHYS 204

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

PHYS 204 lab exemption

Detailed Syllabus and Assessment (PDF)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: MATH 260 or MATH 265 or equivalent (can be taken concurrently with MATH 260 or MATH 265)

Precluded Course: PHYS 200

Centre: Centre for Science

PHYS 204 is not available for challenge.

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PHYS 204 is an introductory calculus-based physics course recommended for science, engineering, and pre-med students. The course covers material on classical mechanics as outlined below. It also includes a laboratory component that involves completing hands-on experiments. In addition to the eText, the course material includes a carefully written Study Guide, enriched with animation and dynamic diagrams, designed for independent learning. PHYS 204 combined with PHYS 205 is the equivalent of one year of introductory calculus-based physics.


PHYS 204 comprises the following thirteen units:

  • Unit 1: Physics and Measurement
  • Unit 2: Motion in One Dimension
  • Unit 3: Vectors
  • Unit 4: Motion in Two Dimensions
  • Unit 5: The Laws of Motion
  • Unit 6: Circular Motion
  • Unit 7: Energy of a System
  • Unit 8: Conservation of Energy
  • Unit 9: Linear Momentum and Collisions
  • Unit 10: Rotation of a Rigid Body About a Fixed Axis
  • Unit 11: Angular Momentum
  • Unit 12: Static Equilibrium and Elasticity
  • Unit 13: Universal Gravitation

Learning Outcomes

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

  • convert between different units and express a physical quantity in scientific notation using the appropriate number of significant digits.
  • explain the relationships between time, displacement, velocity, and constant acceleration and use calculus to solve kinematic problems in one or two dimensions.
  • analyze and solve dynamic problems using vector calculus, Newton’s three laws of motion, and frictional forces.
  • state the work–kinetic energy theorem and the conservation of energy principle and use calculus to analyze systems that involve conservative and nonconservative forces.
  • state the conservation of linear momentum principle and apply it to solve problems that involve one- and two-dimensional (elastic and inelastic) collisions.
  • define center of mass and torque vector and solve problems that involve static equilibrium of extended bodies.
  • analyze and solve problems that involve the kinematics and dynamics of rotational motion and the conservation of angular momentum principle.
  • state Hooke’s law and describe elastic properties of solids and apply formulas for calculating Young’s modulus, bulk modulus, and shear modulus.
  • state Newton’s law of universal gravitation and define gravitational potential and apply them to solve problems involving the force of gravity and satellite motion.
  • demonstrate skills related to performing simple experiments in classical mechanics, including experimental setup, data acquisition, data analysis, and communication of scientific results.

Lab Component

PHYS 204 includes a compulsory lab component that comprises six hands-on experiments performed in a place of the student’s choice. Procedures involve video capture and analysis of moving objects and require common household items such as the video camera in a smartphone. Assessment is based on written lab reports. The following lab experiments are explained in the PHYS 204 course materials:

  • Lab 1: Graphical Analysis
  • Lab 2: Kinematics in One Dimension
  • Lab 3: Projectile Motion
  • Lab 4: Hooke’s Law
  • Lab 5: Collision in Two Dimensions
  • Lab 6: Rolling Motion

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 (fifty percent). The following table describes the credit weight associated with each course requirement:

Activity Weighting
Assignments 20%
Lab Reports 20%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 40%
Total 100%

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.

Serway, Raymond A. and Jewett, John W., Jr. (2014). Physics for Scientists and Engineers (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

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 3, July 9, 2019.

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