PHYS 102 :: Physics Illinois :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Course Description

College Physics: Electricity and Magnetism, and Modern Physics

Credit: Credit is not given for both PHYS 102 and either PHYS 212 or PHYS 214.

Prerequisite: PHYS 101.

Physics 102 is a non-calculus-based approach to electricity and magnetism, and modern physics. Topics covered include:

Course Goals

By the end of this course the student will be able to:

Course Components

All students are required to participate in all course components. Credit is granted in each course component. All course components are subject to the Academic Integrity Policy.

Learning Strategy

To effectively learn new material, students need a wide array of experiences. Our learning philosophy is tailored to help students efficiently process problems in physics by providing the necessary experiences.

In introductory physics, the learning philosophy of the Department of Physics can be summarized as follows:

  1. Think About It! (pre-lectures and checkpoints)
  2. Untangle It! (lectures)
  3. Challenge! (homework)
  4. Experience It! (labs)
  5. Close the Loop! (discussion)

This course covers a large amount of new material. Each concept builds on previous course concepts. Mastery of previous material is essential. This is the student's responsibility. In order to succeed the student must not fall behind!

Component Description

For all components of this course, the Course Attendance Policy explains the tardiness and missed class policies.

Think About It: Pre-Lectures and Checkpoints

Due before each lecture, these web-based assessments are designed to introduce the key ideas/concepts of the lecture. 

Assignments are due as presented in the course schedule.



Untangle It: Lecture

Participation is required (technically, although there is no credit for attendance or penalty for non-attendance).

Each lecture will focus on a topic of the day as described in the course schedule. Notes from each lecture will be posted in their complete form after class is over.

Lectures will be posted to the Media Space channel with automatic captioning after the lectures for the day have been completed. If you have DRES accommodations that require higher-quality captions, please contact Prof. Holder

Challenge: Homework

Homework is assigned and distributed within the homework system, smartPhysics and is due according to the course schedule.

You must work the problems before the deadline in smart.physics to receive full credit for the homework.

Homework problems are designed to:

The web-based homework covering each week's material is due the following week.

To start work on a homework assignment:

Experience It: Laboratory

You are expected to come to your lab section on time.

Your lab team depends upon you.  Be on time. 

The roll will be called each lab period.  If you are not in the lab when the roll is called,  you will be marked ABS.

We do not allow one-time section switches to make up missed labs.

The lab cycle (see course schedule) is designed to provide the opportunity to explore the applications and implications of the concepts developed in lecture.

The laboratory portion of this course will consist of eight (8) 3-hour laboratories.

  1. A prelab exercise completed on the Monday of each lab week.
  2. The laboratory exercise in which students will:
    1. plan and set up simple experiments to investigate topics studied in class
    2. perform measurements of different phenomena studied in lecture
    3. analyze experimental results
    4. make conclusions based on their results and their understanding of the experimental system.
  3. A laboratory write-up which will be completed during the session and turned in at the end of the lab session.

Active student participation is required in lab sections. Active participation means:

If you are ill, including with cold-like symptoms, you should not attend class.  If you are ill, or think you may be, please take the following steps:

Close the Loop: Discussion

Weekly two (2) hour discussion sections are required. Students select a discussion section during registration.

Each discussion session will consist of the following:

Bonus Points and Dropped Assignments

We realize that this course has many assignments spread across its many components, and that things happen in your personal life and with your other classes that can impact your ability to meet every deadline perfectly or never miss any parts of the class. Since our classes are so large, we must be rigid in not allowing late work as indicated above. However, we have two policies that offer you some flexibility:


There will be open office hours every week to give students one-on-one assistance if they need more help. These are a great place to get assistance working through difficult topics, figuring out homework questions, or addressing other concerns about the class. You do not need to have a “good” question for office hours – any question where you are working on your understanding is welcome!


The purpose of exams in this course is to assess your mastery of concepts and related problem-solving skills. In physics classes we consider that you have ‘mastered’ a topic when you remember the rules of how a concept or physical phenomenon works and can apply those rules to unfamiliar situations.

You will be assessed in this course using three midterm exams and one final exam. Exams are spaced approximately 4 weeks apart from each other through the semester. The specific exam dates are available in the Schedule.

This course uses the College of Engineering Computer-Based Testing Facility (CBTF) to proctor exams. Exams will be administered using the PrairieLearn web platform. Details about proctoring and practice exams can be found on the Exam Information page.

Academic Integrity

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Student Code should also be considered as a part of this syllabus. Students should pay particular attention to Article 1, Part 4: Academic Integrity. Read the Code at the following URL:

Academic dishonesty may result in a failing grade. Every student is expected to review and abide by the Academic Integrity Policy: Ignorance is not an excuse for any academic dishonesty. It is your responsibility to read this policy to avoid any misunderstanding. Do not hesitate to ask the instructor(s) if you are ever in doubt about what constitutes plagiarism, cheating, or any other breach of academic integrity.

Infractions include, but are not limited to:

Violations of any of these rules will be prosecuted and reported to the student's home college.

All aspects of the course are covered by these rules, including: