PHYS-133: Principles of Physics

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
Physical Sciences
Academic Level
Course Subject
Course Number
Course Title
Principles of Physics
Credit Hours
Instructor Contact Hours Per Semester
77.00 (for 15-week classes)
Student Contact Hours Per Semester
77.00 (for 15-week classes)
Grading Method
One year of high school algebra with a grade of C or better OR a satisfactory score on the Math placement exam OR eligible for gateway MATH courses at HFC.
Catalog Course Description

Explores physical principles of motion, energy, fluids, electro-magnetism, waves, light, radiation, and the atom. Course is designed to meet the need for a one semester course in physics in many program areas including Allied Health, Teacher Education, Business, and Social Science. Three hours of lecture and two hours of laboratory per week.

Goals, Topics, and Objectives

Goal Statement

The overall goals are to help the student to understand the major concepts of physics in a one semester non-mathematical physics course and to appreciate the interaction of these physical principles in nature.

Core Course Topics
  1. Units and Measurement
  2. Mechanics
    • Kinematics
    • Newton’s Laws of Motion
    • Work and Mechanical Energy
    • Momentum
    • Rotational Motion
    • Gravity
    • Projectile Motion
  3. Fluids, Heat and Temperature
    • Phases of Matter
    • Heat Transfer
    • Thermal Expansion
  4. Waves and Sound
    • Waves and Wave Mechanics
    • Sound, Propagation of Sound Waves
  5. Electricity and Magnetism
    • Electrostatics
    • Electric Current, Voltage, and Power
    • Magnetism
  6. Nature of Light
    • Electromagnetic Waves
    • Blackbody Radiation
    • Reflection
    • Refraction
    • Diffraction
  7. Modern Physics
    • Intro to Atomic and Nuclear Physics
      • Atomic spectra
    • Intro to Relativity
Core Course Learning Objectives (Separated)

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Describe the motion of an object using the appropriate kinematic quantities.
  2. Analyze the motion of an object in free fall.
  3. Describe the motion of a projectile.
  4. Determine how the angle of launch affects properties of the projectile’s motion.
  5. Explain how Newton’s laws are related to the forces acting on an object.
  6. Describe the motion of an object making a circular path.
  7. Determine the direction of the velocity and acceleration for uniform circular motion.
  8. Describe the motion of an object in terms of work, kinetic energy, and potential energy.
  9. Apply the conservation of mechanical energy correctly.
  10. Apply the conservation of momentum correctly.
  11. Explain why objects oscillate back and forth.
  12. Describe the concept of conservation of mechanical energy in oscillations.
  13. Explain why certain objects sink and other objects float in a fluid.
  14. Apply Archimedes’ principle to objects immersed in a fluid.
  15. Explain how heat is related to phase and temperature changes.
  16. Demonstrate the difference between a mechanical wave and an electromagnetic wave.
  17. Describe a wave using the terms wavelength, frequency, amplitude, and speed.
  18. Categorize the interference between two waves as constructive or destructive.
  19. Explain how standing waves are produced.
  20. Predict the outcome of an experiment.
  21. Analyze experimental data using graphs and/or rudimentary calculations.
  22. Explain the concept of electric charge.
  23. Describe the motion of charged particles in electric fields.
  24. Explain the difference between conductive materials and insulative materials.
  25. Explain the concept of electrical current and describe the motion of charge carriers in electrical circuits.
  26. Describe the difference between voltage and current.
  27. Explain the difference between electric fields and magnetic fields.
  28. Categorize mirrors as either flat, concave or convex.
  29. Categorize lenses as either converging or diverging.
  30. Apply ray-tracing rules to determine the location, orientation and magnification of images produced by mirrors and lenses.
  31. Explain how light waves interfere with one another.
  32. Explain the difference between polarized light and un-polarized light.
  33. Explain how diffraction patterns are produced from single and double-slit configurations.
  34. Describe the two postulates of Relativity.
  35. Explain the concept of 'Wave-Particle Duality'.
  36. Define the term 'Blackbody Radiation'.
  37. Explain how line spectra are produced.
  38. Describe the 'Bohr Model' of the atom.
  39. Explain the difference between Protons, Neutrons and Electrons.
  40. Describe the basic structure of an atom.

Associated (recommended) Laboratory Exercises/Activities

  1. Measurement Techniques
  2. Free-fall, calculating g
  3. Newton’s Second Law
  4. Friction
  5. Collisions (Conservation of Momentum)
  6. Simple Levers
  7. Archimedes Principle
  8. Thermal Expansion
  9. Rotational Motion
  10. Magnetism (Bar Magnets, Coils)
  11. Standing Waves
  12. Speed of Sound
  13. Optics (Reflection and Refraction)
  14. Diffraction
  15. Atomic Emission Spectra

Assessment and Requirements

Assessment of Academic Achievement

Assessment of academic achievement will include exams, class participation, homework and laboratory performance.

General Course Requirements and Recommendations

Students are expected to attend all class sessions. Attendance is taken by the instructor during all class meetings.


Hewitt, Conceptual Physics Fundamentals


General Education Categories
  • Natural Sciences
Institutional Outcomes
  • Scientific Reasoning
MTA Categories
  • Category 6: Natural Sciences (Lecture and Lab)
Satisfies Wellness Requirement

Approval Dates

Effective Term
Fall 2022
ILT Approval Date
AALC Approval Date
Curriculum Committee Approval Date
Review Semester
Fall 2022