• Offered by Physics Education Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Physics
  • Areas of interest Physics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Alan John Mitchell
    • Dr John Debs
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

Nationally recognised with two teaching awards, Foundations of Physics aims to teach you to “think like a physicist!” A course for anyone who wants to get a solid foundation in basic-physics concepts, or needs to catchup before entering into a major. It will also teach you skills and an approach to problem solving that you will take forward in your life.
The course offers a unique 'hands on' approach to learning physics. You'll get the background material for each week in a short 1 hour theory lecture, and then have the opportunity, over the course of an afternoon, to put that theory into practice. You'll work in small teams to build, test and analyse physics experiments directly relevant to the material you're learning. Lab manuals and instructions are forbidden! Just like a real researcher.
We introduce students to the key concepts in physics in the areas of mechanics, electricity and magnetism. It is an algebra-based course suitable for those who wish to undertake some physics but do not have a strong mathematical background, and great for those keen on entering graduate medicine via the GAMSAT.
If you've ever wanted to get a real taste of what physics is all about, this is the course for you.
The course is taught by young, enthusiastic and experienced teachers with research interests in quantum mechanics (atom lasers and precision measurement), advanced materials engineering, laser science, and more!

Learning Outcomes

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

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. Understand the fundamental principles of classical mechanics, electric and magnetic fields and simple electrical circuits.

2. Be able to apply these principles to the solution of problems and to the conduct of experiments.

3. Have a basic understanding of uncertainty in the context of physics, and how to handle it.

4. Have basic laboratory skills including equipment skills, data gathering, record keeping, data analysis, experiment design, and presentation.

Other Information

This course can be taken as an entry into the physics major by students without prior physics background.. You are able to enrol in Advanced Physics 1 & 2 (PHYS1101 & PHYS1201) concurrently in semester 2, after completing this course, and the requisite level of mathematics (MATH1013). This course also satisfies the compulsory first-year physics requirements for ANU’s Bachelor of Engineering (Honours).

Indicative Assessment

Assessment comprises:

• Laboratory (40%; LO 1, 2, 3, 4)

• Homework assignments (30%; LO 1, 2, 3)

• Mid-Term and Final Exam (30%; LO 1, 2, 3)

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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.


One 1 hour theory lecture, one 3-4 hour laboratory session (this is where the main teaching in the course occurs) and one tutorial each week.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have successfully completed or are currently undertaking either PHYS1101 or PHYS1201.



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:
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
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $4050
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3831 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 08 May 2020 05 Jun 2020 In Person View

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