PHYS 211 :: Physics Illinois :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Course Description

Introduction to Classical Mechanics

Credit: Credit is not given for both PHYS 211 and PHYS 101.

Prerequisite: Credit or concurrent registration in MATH 231.

Physics 211 is a calculus-based approach to classical mechanics. Classical mechanics is the study of the laws describing forces and motion. These topics are important because they form the foundation upon which most physics and engineering is built.

Course Goals

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

Course Policies

Course Communication

Official University e-mail addresses are exclusively used for official electronic communication.  When the instructors for this course need to communicate with the students, they will use their official University issued e-mail accounts.

Students are expected to check their University issued e-mail account regularly and act on any communications received.  Students are expected to communicate to their instructors using their official University e-mail address.  Any e-mail messages sent from non-University e-mail accounts may not be acted upon by instructors, to preserve student privacy.

Course Add/Drop

This course follows the University Registrar's Calendar for adding and dropping a course.

No late adds or drops will be allowed.

Section Changes

Section changes will be allowed only until the first hour exam.

To make a section change:

Section Attendance

Students are expected to attend the laboratory and discussion section in which they are registered.  Section swapping is not allowed.

Academic Integrity

All activities in this course are subject to the Academic Integrity rules as described in Article 1, Part 4, Academic Integrity, of the Student Code.

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:


Students are responsible for submitting their excuse requests through the Excuses App.  TA's and course directors do not handle excueses directly.

Types of Absence

Two types of absence can be recorded in the gradebook:

The only course components eligible to be issued a grade of EX:

Regardless of the type of absence, Discussions and Labs cannot be made up.

The consequences of absences, excused or otherwise, are discussed in the Grading Policy.

Excused Absences

Excused absences will be granted and documented in accordance with University policy as described in Article 1, Part 5 Class Attendance, of the Student Code.

Excused absences fall into the following categories as defined by the code:


The Excused Absences application will guide students through the procedure for documenting missed classes, including the effects of the absence on students' grades. 

Final Exams

Failing to show-up for a final exam will result in an AB grade resulting in failure (F) for the course.

In accordance with University policy as described in Article 3, Part 1 Grades and Grading Systems of the Student Code, only an authorized member of the Dean's Office of the student's college can change an AB final exam grade to an EX.

University policy will apply for EX grades so granted, as described in Article 3, Part 2 Examinations of the Student Code.

Grading Policy

It is the student's responsibility to familiarize themselves with the grading policy for this course.

Course Completion and Irregular Attendance

In compliance with the Student Code, the instructor of this course determines the amount of coursework which must be completed to pass.  Attendance is required to meet the requirements.

If a student receives three (3) absences in either:

their conduct will be considered irregular attendance and the Dean of their college will be notified in compliance with  Article 1, Part 5, Section 501, item (g) and (h) and Article 3, Part 3, Section 3-312 of the Student Code.

With four (4) or more missed labs or discussions, credit for the course may not be granted.

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.


Course participation requires the use of i>clicker, an interactive audience response system. Students need to acquire one at the bookstore (new or used), and bring it to every lecture, including the first lecture.

i>clicker Registration

Students' i>clickers must be registered at the beginning of every semester.

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! (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 and Checkpoints

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



Untangle It: Lecture

Lecture material will be focused based on the class' checkpoint responses and be presented as interACTive learning segments (ACTs). During these segments students will work in groups on an assigned problem. Students may also discuss the problem with the lecturer. These activities facilitate the resolution of conceptual difficulties with physics concepts. Student questions and comments in class are expected and encouraged. Difficulties with checkpoints make especially good lecture questions!

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 and checkpoints, and attending the lectures. Students should use this background as a guide to finishing the weekly homework assignments.

To start work on a homework assignment:

Experience It: Laboratory

Students must be on time for laboratory. No credit will be granted to students arriving more than 10 minutes late for lab.

The weekly lab cycle (see course schedule) is designed to provide the opportunity to experience the concepts developed in lecture. The laboratory portion of this course will consist of nine (9) 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 which will be completed during the session and turned in at the end of the lab session.

Close the Loop: Discussion

Weekly two (2) hour discussion sections are required. Students select a discussion section during registration. Quizzes will be administered during the discussion section according to the course schedule.

Each discussion session will consist of the following:

Each student is expected to:


Students will not be allowed to re-take exams.  Exams may be taken by a student only once. 

If a student feels that he or she cannot take an exam, he or she should contact the Dean of Student's Office prior to arriving at an exam center.

Review the course schedule for the exam dates.

Exam room assignments are made based on the student's discussion section. Attendance is taken by discussion section teaching assistants.

To each exam bring:

Exam scores will be posted in the student gradebook.

Conflict exams will be scheduled for those with a documented University schedule conflict.

Conflict exam times will be announced in lecture.

"Hour" Exams

Three 90 minute multiple-choice exams will be administered.

Each exam is worth 100 points.

This course administers combined hour exams in the evening.  This is done in accordance with University policy as described in:  Article 3, Part 2. Section 3-202 covering Evening, Midterm and Hourly Examinations of the Student Code.

Students are expected to take the regularly scheduled hour exams

In accordance with University policy, conflict examinations will be administered for students with the following conflict types (from the Student Code):

  1. Other examinations, including special examinations, scheduled at a prior date.
  2. Regularly scheduled performances or rehearsals.
  3. Regularly scheduled classes, including kinesiology and military.
  4. Sickness, regular employment, or other extenuating circumstances.
Final Exam

The final exam will be three hours in length and will cover material from the whole semester.

The final exam is worth 200 points.

A combined final exam (for all three lectures) and a conflict exam will be administered.


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!