First Year Programs

What You Should Know About First Year Physics Courses at MUN

As a first year physics student at MUN you will typically do one physics course in each of the first two semesters. You have a choice of enrolling in the algebra based P1020/1021 or calculus based P1050/1051 stream. Both streams present the same basic material but with different emphasis and required level of mathematics. Which stream you take depends on your anticipated discipline of study, on your physics background and your result in the math placement test(MPT). If you score less than 80% on the math MPT you will be required to take M1090 and would only be able to take P1020 as Math 1000 is a corequisite for P1050.

Physics 1020

The first course in the algebra based P1020/1021stream is an introduction to mechanics. This course is designed as an introductory course for students with no prior physics background or for those entering disciplines not requiring the calculus based P1050/1051. Typically this would include Biology, Psychology and Human Kinetics majors and those wishing to enter Pharmacy or Medicine. Basic algebra and trigonometry skills are required in this course so normally students do Math 1090 or Math 1000 at the same time.

Students who obtain a 65% or better grade in Physics 1020 and who have successfully completed Math1000 may proceed to P1051. This is often the case for a student wishing to pursue an Engineering or Science degree but who did not do Physics in high school.

Important Note: A student who does Math 1090 and Physics 1020 in the fall semester will not be able to do Physics 1051 in the winter semester as Math 1000 is a prerequisite for P1051. Options for this student are to either have a semester (Winter) where they don't do a physics course but do Math 1000 or to do either P1050 or P1021 in the winter semester. P1050 is the calculus based mechanics course and P1021 is the algebra based Electricity and Magnetism course. The catch here is that credit towards a degree will only be given for P1020 or P1050 and P1021 or P1051; hence you will be doing a course for which you won't receive credit towards your degree. On the other hand, P1021 is a very good preparatory course for P1051 as it covers most of the same topics but without the calculus.

Physics 1021

P1021 is the algebra based course which normally follows P1020. Topics include oscillations, waves,sound, electricty and magnetism and simple geometric optics.

Physics 1050

Physics 1050 is a calculus based introduction to mechanics. It is a course designed for those students who have completed both high school Physics courses or for those who, while they haven't done physics before have a strong math background. Math 1000 is a corequisite for this course and so it may be taken at the same time. The topics covered in P1050 are almost the same as those covered in P1020 but the difficulty level of the problems is higher and calculus is used throughout the course, both in lectures and in problem solving. Physics 1050 followed by Physics 1051 is the normal route for entry into Engineering, Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry.


Spring or following Fall

P1020 (obtain>65%)
Math 1000
Math 1090
* *plus M1000

**P1021 might be a very good choice as preparation for P1051. Much of the same material is covered but without calculus. However, note that only two first year physics credits can count towards a degree.

Physics 1051

P1051 is the second term calculus based course normally done by students who have just completed P1050. Math 1001 is a co-requisite for this course. Topics include oscillations, waves, sound, electricty and magnetism, and physical optics. While the topics covered are much the same as in P1021, the level of the problems is somewhat higher, requiring better algebraic math skills and the use of calculus. For example, in P1051, the study of travelling waves and continuous charge distributions requires moderate use of basic calculus and the topic of magnetism requires new math tools such as the vector cross product.