PHYS 213 :: Physics Illinois :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Course Description

University Physics: Thermal Physics

Credit: Credit is not given for both PHYS 213 and PHYS 101

Prerequisite: Successful completion of PHYS 211; credit or concurrent registration in MATH 241

Physics 213 is a calculus-based, introductory course in thermal physics. Topics include:

Students are expected to have a good understanding of:

and some familiarity with:

PHYS 213 meets starting the 8th week of the semester.

Course Goals

By the end of this course the student should 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.


This semester we will  be offering two different grading schemes based on whether or not students would like to attend synchronous lectures.  The default grading scheme will be synchronous. You can change your grading scheme in the my.physics gradebook up until the second Friday of the course. See Course Grading for more details.

Learning Strategy

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

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

  1. Think About It! (prelectures 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

Think About It: Prelecture/Textbook Reading Assignments


Due before most of the lectures, according to the course schedule, these research-based multimedia presentations and assessments are designed to introduce the key ideas/concepts of the lecture.


The textbook was selected to have maximum overlap with the course material and is highly recommended.

Untangle It: Lecture

Lectures are held according to the course schedule.

Participation will occur as follows:

Challenge: Homework

The web-based homework covering each week's material is due the following week. Homework is assigned and distributed within the homework system, smartPhysics.

Homework problems are designed to:

Background for the homework is provided by working through the prelectures, attending the lectures, and reading the assigned material from the textbook. Students should use this background as a guide to finishing the weekly homework assignments. Please refer to the schedule in smartPhysics for due dates.

To start work on a homework assignment:

Experience It: Laboratory

Students must be on time for laboratory. Be sure to review the attendance policy.

The lab cycle is designed to provide the opportunity to experience the concepts developed in lecture. The laboratory portion of this course will consist of three (3) 2-hour laboratories, each involving a series of activities:

  1. A prelab exercise due at the start of each laboratory period.
  2. The laboratory exercise in which students will:
    1. set up simple experiments to investigate topics studied in class
    2. make predictions about the outcome of an experiment
    3. perform measurements of different phenomena studied in lecture
    4. analyze experimental results
    5. answer questions concerning the results and predictions.
  3. A laboratory write-up to be completed during the session and turned in at the end of the lab session.

Close the Loop: Discussion

Weekly 2-hour discussion sections are required. Students select a discussion section during registration, and you are expected to attend the section that you registered for. Solutions to discussion questions will be posted on the course schedule at the end of each week.

Each discussion session will consist of the following:

Each student is expected to:


Also there will be open office hours every week to give students one-on-one assistance if they need more help. Do not be bashful about taking advantage of these!

You may also post questions on Please do not post solutions to homework problems directly on Piazza, but detailed questions are welcome!


There will be two hour exams and a final exam in this course. Hour Exam 1 will cover units 1-4. Hour Exam 2 will cover units 5-8. The final exam covers all of the course material. The exams include both conceptual questions and physical problems.

Review the course schedule for the exam dates.

Scheduling of exams will be handled through the CBTF scheduling system. See exam information for details

Exams themselves will be administered by the CBTF

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 sanctioned and reported to the student's home college.

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