PHYSICS 1510 - Physics IE: Mechanics and Thermodynamics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2021

This calculus-based course provides electrical and electronic engineering students with important foundational knowledge about mechanics, materials, heat transfer, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics and its application to common electrical engineering systems. The course includes weekly small-group problem-solving workshops, and relevant practical sessions.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHYSICS 1510
    Course Physics IE: Mechanics and Thermodynamics
    Coordinating Unit School of Physical Sciences
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 7 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites SACE Stage 2 Physics, MATHS 1011
    Corequisites MATHS 1012 - students may be permitted to enrol in Physics IE concurrently with MATHS 1011 on application to Head of Discipline
    Incompatible PHYSICS 1100
    Course Description This calculus-based course provides electrical and electronic engineering students with important foundational knowledge about mechanics, materials, heat transfer, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics and its application to common electrical engineering systems. The course includes weekly small-group problem-solving workshops, and relevant practical sessions.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Andrew MacKinnon

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

    1 demonstrate knowledge of the physical principles that describe mechanics, materials, heat transfer, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics;
    2 apply physical principles to common physical systems;
    3 use the methods of algebra, vectors and calculus to make quantitative and qualitative predictions about the behaviour of physical systems;
    4 associate the correct unit with every physical quantity they use;
    5 make decisions about the measurements required for practical investigations;
    6 make appropriate use of standard measurement techniques and accurately record observations;
    7 analyse measurements to determine quantitative results and their uncertainties and draw non-trivial conclusions from measurements;
    8 use a variety of sources to locate and synthesise relevant information;
    9 communicate results about the physical world both orally and in writing;
    10 work cooperatively in a team to complete a task in a limited time.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Recommended Resources

    Kirkup, L Experimental Methods for Science and Engineering Students (2nd Edition) (Wiley) is recommended for the practical work.

    Reference books include:

    • Giancoli, D. C. Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics, Pearson New International Edition, 4th edition (Pearson Prentice Hall).
    • Halliday, D, Resnick, R and Walker, J Fundamentals of Physics (11th Australian & New Zealand Edition)
    • Tipler, P Physics for Scientists and Engineers (6th Edition)
    • Ohanian, Physics: readable and has “interludes” or “essays” reflecting interests often expressed by students
    • Marion and Hornyak, Physics for Science and Engineering: is more mathematical than required for our courses
    • Serway, Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics
    Online Learning

    MyUni: Teaching materials and course documentation will be posted on the MyUni website (

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course is delivered using three learning and teaching modes:
    • Lectures: 3 per week, each of 50 minute duration, for 12 weeks
    • Interactive workshops: 1 per week, each of 50-minute duration, for 11 weeks
    • Interactive practical sessions: 4-5, each of 3 hours.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).
    Learning Activities Summary
    Lectures will cover Newtonian mechanics; rectilinear and rotational mechanical systems; forces and torques, friction, free-body diagrams, statics and dynamics; mechanical properties of materials: stress, strain, Young’s modulus, yield stress; work and energy; temperature, thermal expansion, thermal stresses, specific heat; heat transfer processes: conductivity, convection, radiation; fluids: pressure, buoyancy, Reynolds number, laminar flow, viscosity, Bernoulli’s equation; Ideal Gas Law, latent heat, and thermodynamic processes.

    Workshops will provide practice at solving problems.

    Practicals will provide demonstration of concepts from the lectures and provide experience in practical skills and design; data analysis, including measurement uncertainties and plotting.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Weighting Hurdle Due Learning Outcome
    Workshop preparation & participation  Formative & Summative



    Weeks 2-12 1-4,8-10
    Practical work Formative & Summative 20% Yes Weeks 2-12 1-10
    In-semester tests Formative & Summative 10% No Weeks   4,6,8,10 1-4,9
    Written Exam Summative 60% No 1-4,9
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Students must obtain a minimum requirement of 40% in the practical work in order to Pass the course. Catch up practical sessions will be held at the end of the semester.
    Assessment Detail
    Workshop preparation and participation
    Workshops are held weekly, starting in the second week. The grade for the workshop is based on the student’s preparation, determined using an online quiz (completed prior to the workshop), and participation during the workshop.

    Practical work
    There are 5 practicals and the practical work is compulsory. Students must achieve a minimum 40% overall for the practical work.
    For each practical, students must complete an online pre-lab quiz prior to attending the practical session, conduct the required practical work and submit the logbook for assessment. The overall mark for each practical will be the higher of the logbook mark (100%) and a weighted combination of the pre-lab quiz mark (40%) and the mark for the submitted logbook (60%). A practical catch-up session will be held at the end of the teaching semester.

    In – Semester Tests
    Up to four 15-minute tests consisting of short-answer problem solving questions will be held during students scheduled workshops. Poor results in the tests can be partly replaced by a better performance in the final exam. This is achieved by varying the contribution of this task towards the total assessment to optimise the final result for each student.

    Examination (50% - 70% of the total course grade)
    The final examination will consist of short-answer predominantly problem solving questions which will be based on lecture and workshop material.
    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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