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Intro to physics

  1. Nov 7, 2014 #1
    Hi everyone. I just want to ask what exactly is intro to physics? Is that what undergrad physics students study or is it high school physics? I am currently studying the textbook physics by David Halliday.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 7, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    In the US, there are generally speaking three kinds of intro physics courses. One kind uses calculus and a textbook like Halliday/Resnick/Walker's Fundamentals of Physics. A second kind does not use calculus, only algebra and some trigonometry, and a textbook like Serway/Vuille's College Physics. A third kind uses minimal math, and a textbook like Hewitt's Conceptual Physics.

    All three kinds of courses may be taught in high school or in undergraduate college/university.

    If you're using Halliday/Resnick/Krane's Physics, that is a calculus-based intro physics book that goes into somewhat greater depth than Halliday/Resnick/Walker. You can think of H/R/W as a somewhat "lighter" version of H/R/K.
  4. Nov 8, 2014 #3
    So if I ever manage to understand the contents on the textbook I'm using. Is it safe to say that my knowledge of physics is close to an undergrad physics student?
  5. Nov 8, 2014 #4


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Possibly. Some high school classes may teach physics at the level of university first-year, while others may teach a more basic program. Undergrad physics is often taught in conjunction with calculus, but I've seen university courses/programs (usually leading to a BA) that teach physics without calculus or much math. I've never understood that approach, since physics and science in general is quantitative. However, one can learn about physics in a qualitative or conceptual way, which is probably how most non-physicists understand physics or science (or topics therein).
  6. Nov 8, 2014 #5
    Ok. I am currently an engineering student and hoping to get into grad school in physics if I can't then engineering physics. Thanks for the replies.
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