Syllabus for Roster(s):

  • 18Sp PHYS 1720-100 (CGAS)
  • 18Sp PHYS 1720-101 (CGAS)
  • 18Sp PHYS 1720-102 (CGAS)
In the UVaCollab course site:   PHYS 1720 (Spring 2018)


Your instructor is Stefan Baessler, room 169 in the new wing of the physics building, 243-1024, Office hours are Tuesday and Thursday, 4-5 pm.

Your teaching assistant is Zack Carson.
His office hours are Tuesday 3-4 pm and Thursday 2-3 pm.
During office hours, you can find him/her in the Physics Building in room 220.

Contents: This is the second semester of the introductory physics sequence for prospective physics and other science majors. The course goal is to attain an understanding of the foundations of gravitation; electricity & magnetism, and optics, and a working knowledge of the subjects in problem solving. The course consists of lectures, problem sessions, and weekly homework assignments. It is calculus-based and part of the physics major track.

Lectures will be illustrated by numerous, and hopefully spectacular, demonstrations. Emphasis will be placed on the development of problem-solving skills in physics.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 1710 (Introductory Physics I) or PHYS 1425 (General Physics I), MATH1320 (Calculus II), or instructor permission.

Corequisite(s): MATH 2310 (Calculus III) or instructor permission.

Text: We will follow the textbook of Giancoli, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, Vol. 2 with Mastering Physics. Vol. 2 contains chapter 21 to 35. The ISBN number of the textbook is 0-13-613924-8 (bundled with Mastering Physics access), or 0-13-227359-4 (just the textbook).

Sign-up instructions for Mastering Physics, the online quiz system are attached to this document. If you bought the textbook only, you will need to buy an access code. The textbook bundle above includes the access code. For those of you who have a subscription from a previous lecture: It might still be valid, one usually gets one year.

Sign-up instructions for Learning Catalytics are attached to this document.

Sign-up for Piazza is at


Your course grade will be computed in the following way:

Homework 25%
MasteringPhysics 10%
Quizzes (Learning Catalytics) 5%
Midterm exams 30%
Final exam 30%

Grades given as a percentage translate into a letter grade according to the following list:

A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D D- F
>97 >93 >90 >87 >83 >80 >77 >73 >70 >67 >63 >60 otherwise

The course grade will be no worse than C- if the final grade is no worse than C-.

Policies and useful tips:

  • Read related sections of the textbook and any reading assignment before each lecture.
  • In the lecture, we use Learning Catalytics for feedback and to test understanding. You will get all points for a lecture if you answered at least one question correctly. Counting will start with the lecture on Monday, 1/22. I will drop the seven lowest lecture grades for all students who fill in the course evaluation at the end of the semester.
  • Students who miss lectures or discussion sections are responsible to catch up on all material taught and all announcements made in those.
  • Discussion sections are designed to help you review and practice the course material using exercises and short problems, so as to prepare you for homework and exams.You should be signed up for one of them:
    • W 1:00 pm - 1:50 pm in Physics, room 205
    • R 3:30 pm - 4:20 pm in Dell 2, room 100 
  • Do not hesitate to ask questions at any point. Make use of office hours.
  • The course's web site ("PHYS 1720 (Spring 2018)" with tabs syllabus, wiki, assignments, ...) should be on your UVa Collab account. If it doesn't appear there, let me know.
  • Homework is due every Friday, at the beginning of the lecture. You are encouraged to work on homework problems in teams. Furthermore, you are encouraged to ask for help from the TA or the instructor. However, do not expect to be walked through the steps of the correct solution before submission. Also, merely copying a solution from somebody else is not permitted. I will not accept late homework, unless you ask for it in time, give a reason, and I have granted permission. The lowest homework score will be dropped for all students who fill in the course evaluation at the end of the semester.
  • Show all your work in homework and exam problem solutions. Check that your computations include correct physical units, sensible orders of magnitude and the appropriate number of significant digits.
  • MasteringPhysics questions: You can use textbooks or my or your notes, and you can use online tools (wolframalpha etc.) to help you with the math. No other sources are allowed. You can work in teams on MasteringPhysics. If so, all team members have to submit answers at the same time, and it is not allowed to discuss the result with students outside that team before the deadline. The lowest MasteringPhysics score will be dropped for all students who fill in the course evaluation at the end of the semester. This does not include the first MasteringPhysics assignment which is not graded.
  • Points for graded items can be found in collab’s gradebook, with the exception of Mastering Physics and Learning Catalytics points which are noted in the gradebook in Mastering Physics. The calculation of averages, and of the final grade will follow the rules above, and is not performed correctly in collab.
  • We will use Piazza for discussions and homework help. I have yet to learn how to use that system myself.
  • Class Honor Policy Statement: I trust every student in this course to fully comply with all of the provisions of the UVa honor system. Alleged honor violations brought to my attention may be forwarded to the Honor Committee. If, in my judgment, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that a student has committed an honor violation with regard to an exam, that student will receive an immediate grade of "F" for that exam, irrespective of any subsequent action taken by the Honor Committee.

Approximate class schedule:


Number of lectures





electric charges and fields



electric potential






electric circuits






time-dependent fields