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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Introductory Physics Courses

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We offer three different levels of courses in introductory physics. Which level is right for you depends on your background and on your future plans. The descriptions below are meant to help you to determine which level of introductory physics course is the right one for you. If you still have questions then don't hesitate to ask us by writing to

1General Physics -- PHYS 2311 / PHYS 2331

General Physics is a two-semester sequence of courses designed for Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry majors. If you are majoring in one of these fields then you are probably required to take both semesters of General Physics. If you are majoring in Mathematics then General Physics is the most appropriate introductory physics course for you.

The primary difference between General Physics and College Physics is that General Physics is calculus-based while College Physics is algebra-based. If you will be using basic physics knowledge in future courses (such as other physics, chemistry, or engineering courses) or in your career then you should take General Physics. If you are interested in learning how Calculus applies to the natural world then you should take General Physics.

Text Book

University Physics by Young and Freedman

University Physics with Modern Physics, 12th Edition

by Hugh D. Young and Roger A. Freedman

PHYS 2311 -- Chap. 1-13
PHYS 2331 -- Chap 15-25

2College Physics -- PHYS 2010 / PHYS 2020

College Physics is a two-semester sequence of courses designed for Biology majors and anyone considering a health-related career who is not also pursuing a major that requires General Physics. Any student who is (or should be) working with Health Careers Advising and is not also majoring in Chemistry or in Medical Physics should probably take College Physics.

The primary difference between College Physics and General Physics is that College Physics is algebra-based while General Physics is calculus-based. Also, College Physics tends to cover a broader range of topics. For this reason, College Physics is probably offers slightly better preparation for the MCAT and related tests. If you have taken a year of Calculus (up through MATH 2411) and are required to take just an algebra-based physics course then you probably have the option of taking either College Physics or General Physics.

Text Book

Giambatista, Richardson, and Richardson - College Physics

College Physics

Alan Giambattista, Cornell University
Betty Richardson, Cornell University
Robert Richardson, Cornell University

PHYS 2010 -- Parts 1 and 2 (chapters 1-15)
PHYS 2020 -- Parts 3, 4, and 5 (chapters 16-30)

3Introduction to Physics -- PHYS 1100

Introduction to Physics is a one-semester course designed primarily for non-science students. PHYS 1100 satisfies the Natural & Physical Sciences part of the core curriculum. This course provides an introductory survey of physics from a more conceptual, rather than quantitative, point of view. The course includes a hands-on laboratory component, applications of physics to everyday life, and some discussion of the historical development of physics. If you need a more mathematically rigorous course in physics, need to know how to perform physics-related calculations, or are especially interested in the connection between mathematics and the natural world then you should consider taking one of the other introductory courses.


Conceputal Physics

Conceptual Physics

Paul G. Hewitt