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PHYS 142 A: Honors Electromagnetism

MWF 9:30am - 10:20am / * *
Th 5:00pm - 6:20pm / * *
photo of Paula Heron
Paula R. L. Heron

Syllabus Description:

Topics covered

Physics 142 covers electric force and field, electric potential and potential energy, circuits, magnetic force and field (Ampere's law), magnetic induction (Faraday's law and Lenz's law) and special relativity. 


This course has multiple components: lecture, lab, and tutorial (QZ section in time schedule) each of which has several important aspects.  These are each described in more detail below.

Getting started

  • Purchase the following items:
    • The Tutorial Course Pack,
      • Only available from the University Bookstore.
      • This will be used to fill in your tutorial work and tutorial homework, so you cannot use a used one.
    • Access code for MyLab and Mastering,
      • See purchasing options here.
    • Textbook: Principles & Practice of Physics, 1st edition by Mazur
      • See purchasing options here.
  • Connect to the online homework system using the instructions found here.
  • Slack will be the primary space where you can communicate with your peers and your TA.
    • Use your UW email to join our Slack workspace (the same one from Physics 141).
    • Get Slack running on your device. Here are useful tips and features for using Slack. We highly recommend downloading the mobile or desktop app, and turning notifications on so that you don't miss messages from your TA and other members in your tutorial section.

Contact information

For questions send an email with your course (Phys 142), your UW netID (the part before in your email address), and name as it appears on Canvas to:

  • the instructor, Paula Heron for personal correspondence related to grades, health issues, etc...
  • the program coordinator at for administrator questions related to registering, overloading, etc...
  • the PHYS 142 TA coordinator (Kazumi Tolich) at for questions about your TA or questions that your TA may not be able to answer.
  • your TA (contact information here) for other questions.

Office Hours and Posting Questions

During the week I will hold office hours on Zoom where you can ask questions on Mondays at 12:30 PM 

TA office hours

Use Slack for physics questions or syllabus related questions.  I encourage you to answer each others' questions, but I will also monitor this frequently and will respond if needed.

Class components

This class consists of lecture, lab, tutorial and exam components.  

Important: Each exam includes questions based on the lectures, labs, and tutorials.  Therefore missing a lecture, lab, or tutorial section can have an impact on your exam score.  You should be sure to watch all lectures, and work through any lab or tutorial that you miss as soon as possible to minimize the impact on your course grade.

Lecture components:

  • Lecture reading discussion (4% of grade):
    • Each week, you need to post at least once in the discussion channel in Slack something about the reading (see schedule below).  Your post could be a question you have about the reading, a discussion about part of the reading you found particularly interesting, or an answer to a question posted by another student about the reading.
    • The TAs will read these to get a sense of common questions, and we will post a general response, but we will not respond to individual questions.
    • Your lowest reading discussion score will be dropped.  If you miss more than a week of discussions due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact me.
  • Class participation (4% of grade):
    • During class we will use the Learning Catalytics polling system.
    • Questions will be graded based on participation, not on correctness.
    • If you miss more than three lectures due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact me.
  • Lecture homework (8% of grade):
    • These will be due each Tuesday at 11:59 pm, and will be based on material covered in the previous week's readings and lectures.
    • Late homework will be accepted for reduced credit.
    • You can access the lecture homework in MyLab and Mastering.

Lab components: 

  • Labs (12% of grade):
    • If you need to make-up more than 2 labs due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), contact us.
    • Labs will be held synchronously. You are expected to attend during your assigned time each week, but may attend a different time with prior approval from the TA:
      • Tuesday 5pm - 7pm | Zoom
      • Wednesday 4pm - 6pm | Zoom
      • Friday 12:30pm - 2:30pm | Zoom
      • Friday 3:30pm - 5:30pm | Zoom
    • There will be no synchronous meetings for the uncertainty lab (week 2).
    • During each 2-hour synchronous section, some students will be set up with VR headsets running the lab software; they will stream their headset display over Zoom to enable the rest of us to collaborate with them.
      • Instructions for configuring your computer and Oculus Quest headset to run a VR lab from your space can be found here.
    • The lab grade will be derived from your grades on weekly lab submissions, intermittent self-reflection and teamwork evaluation activities, and a final presentation, as below.
  • Weekly lab submissions (50% of lab grade):
    • Each lab will have a graded assignment due a week after the lab session.
    • Some assignments will be completed as a group; this will be addressed in lab whenever a group assignment is on the horizon.
  • Self-reflections and teamwork evaluations (30% of lab grade):
    • Most weeks, you will complete a short reflection on your own work and that of your lab partners; information will be given about the structure and timing of this activity at the start of each lab.
  • Final presentation (20% of lab grade):
    • You will give a presentation on the final lab of the quarter during the last week of classes (before finals week).
  • Lab schedule:
Week Dates Week # Lab # Lab Name VR?
Jan 4-8 1 None No
Jan 11-15 2 1 Uncertainty No
Jan 18-22 3 2 Electric and Minty Particles Yes
Jan 25-29 4 2 Electric and Minty Particles Yes
Feb 1-5 5 3 Circuits No
Feb 8-12 6 3 Circuits No
Feb 15-19 7 4 Exotic Matter Yes
Feb 22-26 8 4 Exotic Matter Yes
Mar 1-5 9 4 Exotic Matter Yes
Mar 8-12 10 4 Final Presentations Yes
Mar 15-19 Finals

Tutorial components:

  • Tutorial pretest (1% of grade):
    • These are designed to get you thinking about your ideas on topics covered in this course.  They are graded based on a thoughtful attempt, not on correctness.
    • These become available Monday at 3:30 PM and are due each Thursday at 11:59 pm.
    • Once you start a pretest, you will have 15 minutes to complete it without the ability to pause.
    • Your lowest tutorial pretest score will be automatically dropped.
    • If you miss more than one tutorial pretest due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact us.
  • Tutorial in-class (3% of grade):
    • You need to attend and actively participate in discussion at your tutorial section (QZ section on time schedule) each week to get participation credit.  Each tutorial will be graded based on the following:
      • Adequate (2 points): Actively engaged in discussion throughout tutorial.
      • Needs improvement (1 point):  Multiple periods not engaged in discussion during tutorial.
      • Missing (0 points): Did not attend any tutorial section.
    • If you cannot attend your tutorial section in a given week, you can attend another section.  A schedule of tutorials with their Zoom links can be found here (select "14x" then select "142 Tutorial Schedule").  Be sure to contact your TA to let them know.
    • Your lowest tutorial in-class score will be automatically dropped.  However, you are still responsible for submitting the associated tutorial homework on time.
    • If you miss more than one tutorial in-class due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact us.   
  • Tutorial homework (8% of grade):
    • Each tutorial has homework that is due each Wednesday at 11:59 pm 
    • For each homework, you need to upload a scanned pdf file to the Canvas tutorial homework assignment. For instruction on how to create and upload a pdf, see the Tutorial Information.
    • If you submit your tutorial homework after it is due, there is a penalty of 1% deduction of the score for every hour that it is late.
    • If you need to submit tutorial homework late due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact us.
    • Your lowest tutorial homework score will be automatically dropped.

All important tutorial information can be found under the Tutorial Information.  Once at the tutorial website select "12x" for information general to all courses in the Phys 121-122-123 sequence.  Select the link for section A, B or C under "PHYS 122" to get the schedule for all assignments specific to your class.


Exams will be done online.  The exam procedure is described here.

The following dates are preliminary and may change.

  • Midterm exam 1 on February 4th starting between 4:55 and 5:15 pm (PST). Once you start the exam, you will have 60 minutes to finish the exam.
  • Midterm exam 2 on February 25th starting between 4:55 and 5:15 pm (PST). Once you start the exam, you will have 60 minutes to finish the exam.
  • Final exam on Wednesday March 17th starting between 8:25 and 8:45 am (PST).  Once you start the exam, you have 1 hour and 50 minutes to finish.

There are no make-up exams.  Students with outside professional, service, or career commitments (i.e. military service, ROTC, professional conference presentation, NCAA sports, etc.) conflicting with the exam dates must contact me early in the quarter to establish alternate examination procedures.  Students in different time zones must contact me early in the quarter to arrange alternative times.  Exam scores for students who miss an exam without making prior arrangements will be zero.  

Each exam is out of 100 points:

  • 70 points on lecture material
  • 15 points on tutorial material
  • 15 points on lab material

Exams will count for 60% of your grade.  Your overall exam score will be based on the best of the following two methods:

  • Method 1: 20% from each of your midterms scores and 20% from your final exam score
  • Method 2: 20% from your best midterm score and 40% from your final exam score

We will design the exams such that a student who understands some of the material very well but needs some improvement in the remaining material should get a score around 65%.  If the class average on a given exam is less than 65%, then all the scores for that exam will be adjusted upward so that the average is 65%. Scores will not be adjusted downward even if the class average is higher than 65%.

If a student is found responsible for misconduct during an exam, a score of zero will be given for that exam for this student.  If the misconduct occurs during a midterm, only Method 1 is used to calculate the final grade, and Method 2 is not used.


Your final weighted percentage is converted to a grade point using the following thresholds.

grade point course score   grade point course score   grade point course score   grade point course score
4.0 92.0 3.0 76.0 2.0 60.0 1.0 44.0
3.9 90.4 2.9 74.4 1.9 58.4 0.9 42.4
3.8 88.8 2.8 72.8 1.8 56.8 0.8 40.8
3.7 87.2 2.7 71.2 1.7 55.2 0.7 39.2
3.6 85.6 2.6 69.6 1.6 53.6    
3.5 84.0 2.5 68.0 1.5 52.0    
3.4 82.4 2.4 66.4 1.4 50.4    
3.3 80.8 2.3 64.8 1.3 48.8    
3.2 79.2 2.2 63.2 1.2 47.2    
3.1 77.6 2.1 61.6 1.1 45.6  

Reading schedule (TENTATIVE)

Reading Schedule 

Research Study Information

This course is part of a research project  examining student reasoning ability and attitudes about physics with the goal of  improving physics teaching.  By enrolling in this course you are automatically included in the study. Early in the quarter, students will have an opportunity to learn about the study and to remove themselves from the study if they wish. Your instructor will not know whether or not you participate. Later in the quarter, the link below will become active and allow you to review the details of the study, contact a member of the research team, or remove yourself from the study.

The form link is: 

Access and accommodation

Your experience in this class is important to us, so if you have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but are not limited to: mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical), please contact DRS to arrange accommodations.

Safe campus

We are committed to ensuring a safe environment on campus.  We encourage you to check out the resources available here.

Resources to Succeed

This website describes recommended practices to succeed in this course, and contains a list of resources you may find helpful for a variety of issues students may encounter during your time at UW.  Contact me if you need help finding the resources you need.

One very important practice described in the above website is working collaboratively. We will create a space for you to communicate with your peers in your tutorial section and TA in a Slack channel. See Getting Started below for more details.  However, you are encouraged to reach out to other students to find people with whom you can study and learn.

Religious Accommodations

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (

Academic integrity and student conduct

The University takes academic integrity and student conduct very seriously.  Behaving with integrity and respect is part of our responsibility to our shared learning community.  Acts of academic misconduct may include, but are not limited to, cheating by working with others or sharing answers on exams.

Please note that screenshots or recordings of instructors, other students, and course materials during active video (Zoom) participation sessions are strictly forbidden.  Streaming or posting inappropriate materials on any course platform is also not allowed. 

All the course materials including exam and quiz questions, lecture notes, lecture videos are intellectual properties of the instructor and the University of Washington. Distributing them in any form without permission is forbidden.  

The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals.  Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution.  More information can be found online at

If you’re uncertain about if something is academic or behavioral misconduct, ask us.  we are willing to discuss questions you might have.

Catalog Description: 
Addresses same material as PHYS 122 in more depth and with additional topics such as current research and cross-disciplinary applications. For students with strong calculus preparation. Maximum 5 credits allowed for any combination of PHYS 115, PHYS 118, PHYS 122, and PHYS 142. Prerequisite: a minimum grade of 2.5 in PHYS 141; and MATH 125 or MATH 134, either of which may be taken concurrently. ; recommended: high-school-level physics course. Offered: W.
GE Requirements: 
Natural World (NW)
Other Requirements Met: 
Honors Course
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
November 6, 2020 - 9:41pm