First year FAQs

These 'frequently asked questions' relating to general first year physics may help you too.

These 'frequently asked questions' relating to general first year physics may help you too. Once you have enrolled in a first-year physics subject, more specific 'frequently asked questions' can also be found within LMS (you must be an enrolled student of the University of Melbourne to access this as it is password protected).

1. What do the first-year physics subjects have in common?

The focus of your learning will range over similar areas of physics in each semester (though the depth and range of applications differs between subjects).The subjects share the same pattern of teaching: three lectures per week, one 1-hour problem solving class per week and one 2 to 3-hour laboratory based workshop class for up to 8 weeks per semester.
The distribution of marks between the different forms of assessment is the same: 60% for one 3-hour written examination at the end of semester; 25% for laboratory work, assessed throughout the semester and15% for tests and assignment each semester.

2. Do I have to follow the guidelines for choosing subjects?

In most cases the answer is "Yes". The guidelines have been designed to help you in making a wise decision, so you should have an excellent reason before considering a different choice. During the initial course advice period, students have access to their Student Centre student advisors to confirm their decisions. Permission to waive the guidelines should have the approval of the Physics Director of First-Year Studies.

3. Can I change subjects?

Before the end of the second week of semester, if the change you want to make is consistent with the guidelines, you may change your subject using the procedures of the Student Centre of your course. Otherwise you should first seek permission from the Physics Director of First-Year Studies before making the subject change.

4. I'm interested in Engineering pathways – which Physics subjects should I choose?

Pathways to Electrical Systems and Mechanical Systems majors in the BSc, and the corresponding streams in the BE, require students to complete a pair of first-year level Physics subjects. Physics also can be chosen as the science elective for students planning to complete the Civil Systems major in the BSc and the Civil Engineering stream of the BE. Students should choose the appropriate Physics 1 subject for their background, and in semester 2 complete Physics 2: Advanced or Physics 2: Physical Science & Technology.

5. I plan to apply for Bachelor of Vet Science—does it matter which physics I take?

Follow the guidelines given here for choosing your Physics subjects. Students who have undertaken physics in their final year of secondary schooling and choose to study PHYC 10005 normally will have their marks for this subject debited by 15% when being considered for selection into the BVSc course. If you are in this situation and your result in VCE Unit 3/4 was less than 30 please consult the Physics Director of First-Year Studies.

6. Can I take Physics as breadth in my course?

The School of Physics is happy to teach students who are doing Physics subjects as breadth. First-Year Physics subjects are available as breadth in the first year of the BA, BCom, BEnvs and BMus. They are not available in the breadth component of the BBiomed, BE or BSc as physics subjects contribute to the core of those degrees.

7. Can I take Physics for Biomedicine (PHYC 10007)?

This subject has been designed specifically for the needs of students enrolled in the Bachelor of Biomedicine course and is not available to students in other courses.

8. What if I have completed UMEP Physics?

Students who have completed PHYC10003 and PHYC10004 via the UMEP programme can take one of two options:

  • Consolidate by taking the advanced sequence, PHYC10001 and PHYC10002, in their first year. Note that these students qualify for an exemption from the laboratory component of the subjects. Please apply for an exemption through the Prelabs page on the LMS.
  • Broaden their first-year studies by taking subjects they would not otherwise have been able to fit into their course.

In general it is not possible to take second-year physics subjects because of their first-year mathematics prerequisite requirements which are in addition to the physics prerequisite. If you believe that you could qualify, please see the Physics Director of First-Year Studies.

9. Does the School of Physics offer Astronomy subjects?

Yes, a general first year subject in Astronomy is offered in second semester, From the Solar to the Cosmos (PHYC10008). If you are interested in pursuing Astronomy then you are advised to study Physics and Maths to prepare for Astronomy subjects at higher year levels. The interdisciplinary subject Introduction to Life, Earth and Universe (MULT 10011) includes some components that would interest students with a strong interest in astronomy.

10.  Does the School of Physics offer any other subjects at first year level?
The School of Physics is one of the key departments teaching in the University breadth subject "Introduction to Climate Change" which develops students understanding of the scientific basis of climate change and its impacts as well as possible responses.

11. What is the text book?
Physics 1 and Physics 2: Physical Science & Technology, and Physics 1 and 2 (Advanced):
Halliday & Resnick, Fundamentals of Physics, 11th ed., Wiley 2018.

Physics 1: Fundamentals:
Serway, Jewett, Wilson, Wilson, Rowlands, Physics: Volume 1 2nd Edition

Physics 2: Life & Environmental Sciences:
A custom eBook has been created for this subject combining the relevant chapters from Serway, Jewett, Wilson, Wilson, Rowlands, Physics: Volume 2 2nd Edition (if you already have Vol 1) Cengage and Zinke-Allmang, Nejat, Galiano-Riveros, Bayer, Xiaoke Chen, Physics for the Life Sciences 3rd Edition Cengage. Details on buying this text will be provided on the LMS.

Physics for Biomedicine:
Zinke-Allmang, Nejat, Galiano-Riveros, Bayer, Xiaoke Chen, Physics for the Life Sciences 3rd Edition Cengage

These books can be purchased through the University bookstore or on-line. The e-text can also be purchased through the publisher. Students will have access to on-line assessment programs through the LMS, so you only need to purchase the text.

The University has used its best endeavours to ensure that material contained in this publication was correct at the time of printing. The University gives no warranty and accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of information and the University reserves the right to make changes without notice at any time in its absolute discretion. Users of this publication are advised to reconcile the accuracy and currency of the information provided with the relevant faculty or department of the University before acting upon or in consideration of the information. Copyright in this publication is owned by the University and no part of it may be reproduced without the permission of the University.