Physics (PHYS) 205

Physics for Scientists and Engineers II (Revision 1)

PHYS 204

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 205 lab exemption

Detailed Syllabus and Assessment (PDF)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: PHYS 204 (or PHYS 200 and MATH 265) or equivalent.

Centre: Centre for Science

PHYS 205 is not available for challenge.

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PHYS 205 is an introductory calculus-based physics course recommended for science, engineering, and pre-med students. The course covers the principles of electricity and magnetism and includes a hands-on laboratory component. In addition to a standard e-textbook, the course material includes a well-written Study Guide designed for independent study. Video material is also provided for each unit and lab experiment.


PHYS 205 consists of the following twelve units, divided into two parts.

Part I Electricity

  • Unit 1: Electric Fields
  • Unit 2: Gauss’s Law
  • Unit 3: Electric Potential
  • Unit 4: Capacitance and Dielectrics
  • Unit 5: Current and Resistance
  • Unit 6: Direct Current Circuits

Part II Magnetism

  • Unit 7: Magnetic Fields
  • Unit 8: Sources of the Magnetic Field
  • Unit 9: Faraday’s Law
  • Unit 10: Inductance
  • Unit 11: Alternating Currents
  • Unit 12: Electromagnetic Waves

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to

  • use Coulomb’s law and vector calculus to compute electric forces and fields due to static point charges and simple charge distributions.
  • apply Gauss’s law to calculate and map the electric fields for symmetric charge distributions.
  • define electric potential and electric potential energy and use calculus to solve relevant problems.
  • explain the concepts of electric current, voltage, resistance and capacitance, along with Ohm’s law, and use them to solve problems involving simple DC circuits.
  • outline the Biot-Savart and Ampère's laws and use vector calculus to describe the magnetic fields generated by simple current distributions.
  • describe and calculate the forces experienced by electric currents and moving point charges in an external magnetic field.
  • define Faraday’s and Lenz’s laws and solve problems involving induced electromotive forces.
  • explain inductance and analyze circuits involving resistors, capacitors and inductors when connected across AC sources.
  • describe Maxwell’s equations and solve problems involving electromagnetic radiation, including polarization, intensity and transported energy.
  • demonstrate skills related to performing simple experiments in electricity and magnetism, including experimental setup, data acquisition, data analysis and communication of scientific results.

Home Lab Component

PHYS 205 includes a compulsory lab component that requires the student to perform six hands-on lab experiments in a place of her/his 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 some additional common household materials. The PHYS 205 Lab Manual explains the following experiments.

  • Experiment 1: Coulomb’s Law
  • Experiment 2: Ohm’s Law and Resistivity
  • Experiment 3: RC Circuit
  • Experiment 4: Magnetic Field of a Solenoid
  • Experiment 5: Electric Motor
  • Experiment 6: Lab Project

Evaluation is based on written lab reports, with the option to produce short (5-minute) video presentations for certain experiments.

Request the lab kit online

The student may qualify for partial or full transfer of lab credit obtained for equivalent lab work at another institution. (See relevant AU policy and procedure.)


The final grade in PHYS 205 is based on the marks achieved in two assignments, six lab reports, and two examinations. To pass the course, the student must achieve at least 50% on the final examination and on the lab component, and an overall course grade of at least D (50 percent). The following chart summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weight associated with each.

Activity Weighting
Assignments (10% each) 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., Physics for Scientists and Engineers, 9th ed. Belmont, CA: Brooks-Cole, 2014.

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

The Athabasca University online course resources include a Study Guide and Lab Manual, as well as Logger Pro Software.

Home Lab Kit to be borrowed from the AU Science Lab.

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 1, November 6, 2015