• Offered by Physics Education Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Physics
  • Areas of interest Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics
  • Academic career Undergraduate
  • Course convener
    • Prof Paul Francis
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2018
    Second Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings

Why can't we build practical flying cars? How do stars explode? Why do mouse hearts beat so fast? Could you stop a cyclone by dropping an atomic bomb on it? Why do smartphone batteries run flat so fast? If you build yourself a super-hero suit, how long could you fight criminals before your batteries go flat? Could the Death Star really destroy a planet? In this course, we will use physics to answer these questions, and many more like them.

The course introduces the key ideas of modern physics, ranging from quantum mechanics to astrophysics, and from electromagnetic waves to thermodynamics. Using these concepts, we show how physics allows us to come up with innovative solutions to a wide range of modern-day problems.

The course focusses on problem-solving: using your knowledge of physics in complicated real-world contexts, using data analysis, modelling, laboratory analysis and back-of-the-envelope estimation to get answers to seemingly impossible problems.


More advanced (honours pathway) options are available in this course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. Construct and use appropriate physical models for a wide range of physical situations, including computer modeling, and explain their limitations.
2. Quickly estimate order-of-magnitude values for a wide range of physical quantities.
3. Analyse and interpret uncertain data, including computer analysis.
4. Become proficient with vectors and vector fields
5. Estimate the systematic and random uncertainties in both experimental and theoretical situations
6. Construct and analyse DC and AC circuits using a breadboard, multimeter and oscilloscope

Indicative Assessment

Assessment comprises:

  • Weekly homework, 30% (LO 1-5)
  • In-class tests and assignments, 30% (LO 1-6)
  • Final written exam, 30% (LO 1-5)
  • Final Laboratory exam, 10% (LO 1, 3, 5, 6)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Weekly two-hour workshops and  two-hour laboratories. Lectures are online.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed or be currently studying MATH1013 or MATH1115.

Prescribed Texts


Assumed Knowledge

There is no formal physics prerequisite but preparation is assumed and recommended. Recommended preparation is - NSW: a high standard in 2 unit physics or a multistrand science; ACT: a high standard in physics (major). Students without this level of preparation should take PHYS1001 first. You also need to meet the requirements of the maths co-requisites.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Band 2
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings and Dates

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery
2878 19 Feb 2018 26 Feb 2018 31 Mar 2018 25 May 2018 In Person

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery
9812 23 Jul 2018 30 Jul 2018 31 Aug 2018 26 Oct 2018 In Person

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions