• Class Number 2708
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Paul Francis
    • Prof Paul Francis
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

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, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

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

Research-Led Teaching

This course will teach you the practical skills needed to apply your physics knowledge to real-world problems. It uses teaching techniques developed by educational researchers to help you learn as effectively as possible. All lecturers are active researchers and will use many current research examples in their teaching.

Required Resources

You must buy and bring a laboratory notebook. This should be A4 in size. It should have at least a hard back cover so than you can write on it while walking around. It should be bound – not a folder. Otherwise anything will do – it does not need to have graph paper or anything fancy.

In the laboratories you must wear covered shoes (i.e. not sandals), to protect your feet from falling equipment. You do NOT need a lab coat for the physics labs.

We provide full video and written notes, so no textbook is necessary. However, we recommend the free open-source textbook https://openstaxcollege.org/textbooks/college-physics

There is a textbook from MIT about the Ninja-physics approach – you can find free copies at


Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Comments on written homework
  • Answers to online homework
  • In-person discussion of lab books and workshop activities
  • Optional drop-in sessions

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

This is a “Flipped” class. What does this mean? In a traditional course, you go to class to hear the material, and then do problems at home by yourself. In a flipped class, this is reversed: you hear the material from videos at home and then come in to do problems in class.

Each week you should:

  •  Log in to Wattle
  •  Study the lessons for that week. You may need to watch some of the videos or read the notes several times to fully understand them. This should take around 2 hours.
  • If you are confused about anything, or would like extra help, come to one of the optional drop-in sessions.
  •  Do the online homework questions for that week. These are on-line and should take 1 hour. You will not be able to access the questions until you have completed the lessons.
  •  If you have questions about any of the material, post them on the course Facebook page.
  • Come to the workshop. Attendance is compulsory. We will assume that you’ve done the online material before coming.
  • After the workshop, write-up your solution to the workshop questions, and submit then on Wattle.
  • Come to the practical (starting in Week 2). Attendance is compulsory. After the practical, write up the answers to the practical questions and submit them on Wattle.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Week 1-6 Electricity and Magnetism Circuits, electric and magnetic fields, capacitors and inductors, vectors, Faraday's law. Uncertainties and data analysis. Weekly online lessons and quizzes. Weekly written homework
2 Weeks 7-12 Mechanics and Thermodynamics Modelling physical systems, contact and tension forces, rotation, angular momentum and moments of inertia, thermodynamics, harmonic oscillator, numerical solutions using Euler's Method and Python. Weekly online lessons and quizzes. Weekly written homework
3 Extension If you wish, you can sign up for the optional extension exercises. These can count as an ASE (for PhB students) or an Honours Pathway Option. Additional weekly written homework

Tutorial Registration

You must sign up for a workshop and for a practical session. This can be done on Wattle.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Weekly Quiz 10 % 25/02/2019 31/05/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6
Weekly Written Homework 30 % 25/02/2019 31/05/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6
Written Exam 40 % 06/06/2019 04/07/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6
Practical Exam 20 % 06/06/2019 04/07/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


You are required to attend one workshop and one practical each week, unless you have been granted exemption ahead of time due to illness or an unavoidable clash.


Refer to the examinations timetable and/or wattle for examination times and location.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 25/02/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Weekly Quiz

Complete this quiz on Wattle, after you have completed the lessons for that week. You will not be able to access it until you have completed the lessons. It will consist of multiple-choice and numerical questions. Answers will be automatically provided once the deadline has passed.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 25/02/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Weekly Written Homework

Each week you will need to write up and submit your work from both the workshop and the practicals. You will be given instruction there about what to submit. Your answers should be uploaded to Turnitin, via Wattle. You can either word process your work or hand-write it and then scan and upload a pdf file. Scanner apps can be found for mobile phones, or scanners used in the library. Your grades and feedback will typically be posted within a week of submission.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 06/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 04/07/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Written Exam

A written exam will be held during the examination period after the end of semester. It is an open-book exam, which means that you can bring any amounts of notes or reference materials in with you.

The date range in the Assessment Summary indicates the start of the end of semester exam period and the date official end of semester results are released on ISIS. Please check the ANU final Examination Timetable http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/examination-timetable to confirm the date, time and location of the mid-semester exam.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 06/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 04/07/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Practical Exam

A practical exam will be held in the physics laboratories during the examination period after the end of semester. You will be required to demonstrate that you can use electrical equipment, wire up circuits and write computer programs in Python. It is an open-book exam, which means you can bring any amount of notes or reference materials. In addition, you can bring your own laptop if you wish, instead of using the laboratory computers, and you can bring a USB memory stick with template programs.

The date range in the Assessment Summary indicates the start of the end of semester exam period and the date official end of semester results are released on ISIS. Please check the ANU final Examination Timetable or the course Wattle site to confirm the date, time and location of the mid-semester exam.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

All work should be submitted electronically.

Late Submission

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Tutors will mark the homework and post feedback and comments using TurnItIn. This will typically be done within a week.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Weekly homework cannot normally be resubmitted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Paul Francis

Research Interests

Quasars, High Redshift Galaxies, Educational Research

Prof Paul Francis

Thursday 13:00 15:00
Prof Paul Francis

Research Interests

Prof Paul Francis

Thursday 13:00 15:00

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