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PHYS 142 A: Honors Electromagnetism

MWF 9:30am - 10:20am / PAA A110
Th 5:00pm - 6:20pm / PAA A102
Gray Rybka

Syllabus Description:

Topics covered

Phys 142 covers the following topics:

  • electric force and field (Gauss's law)
  • electric potential and potential energy
  • capacitors
  • electric circuits
  • magnetic force and field (Ampere's law)
  • special relativity
  • magnetic induction (Faraday's law and Lenz's law)
  • electromagnetic waves
  • AC circuits


This course has multiple components: lecture, lab, and tutorial (QZ section in time schedule).  Each component has several important aspects.  You can see all the aspects required in a given week in Modules.

This website describes recommended practices to succeed in this course, and this website contains a list of resources you may find helpful for a variety of issues students may encounter during your time at UW.  We highly recommend the following:

  • Creating a weekly schedule to organize when you will work on the various course components.  We have posted sample weekly schedule here.
  • Working in groups.  You will work in groups in tutorials and in labs.  However, we encourage you to work with others on other assignments also.  You can use the discussion tool to post questions or answer others questions, or to find people interested in forming a study group.  TAs will also monitor the discussion tool frequently and will respond if needed. But if you want immediate response, please email me.
  • If you have any questions, attend office hours so that they can be addressed.

Contact us if you need help finding the resources you need.

Contact Information

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

  • the instructor, Gray Rybka at, for personal correspondence related to grades, health issues, etc...
  • the program coordinator at for administrator questions related to registering, overloading, etc...
  • the PHYS 142 Lab/Tutorial TA coordinator, Kazumi Tolich at, for questions about your TA or questions that your TA may not be able to answer.
  • your TA (Lab TAs, Tutorial TAs) for other questions.

Course Material

You need to purchase the following items:

  • The Tutorial Course Pack,
  • Access code for MyLab and Mastering and Learning Catalytics,
    • See purchasing options here.
    • Connect to the online homework system using the instructions found here.
  • Textbook: Principles & Practice of Physics, 1st edition by Mazur
    • See purchasing options here.


Lecture overview

We will use a flipped classroom model, which has been shown to improve student learning.

  • Before each scheduled lecture you need to complete the assigned reading (see schedule below).  Note that you should not expect to understand all the reading after reading it once.  However, you should at least be familiar with the concepts covered, but not necessarily able to apply them.
  • During lecture I will briefly review the reading, but most of the time will be used for you to work on problems individually, and then to discuss them with your peers. This discussion with peers and the whole class is one of the most effective ways to learn, so it is important to attend lectures if possible.

Lectures are from 9:30 to 10:20 AM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in lecture hall A110 of PAA.  I will post lecture slides under the Files.  If you cannot attend lecture in person due to minor illness etc., you can attend lectures via live-streaming on Panopto and participate in the in-class quizzes, the recording of which will be also available under the "Panopto Recordings" menu on the left.

The Thursday 5:00 to 6:00 PM slot is used for two exams, exam preparation and a lab workshop. (See schedule below)

Lecture graded components

  • Lecture reading quiz (4% of grade):
    • After completing the reading you need to answer questions on MyLab and Mastering before 8:00 AM on the day of the corresponding lecture.
    • If you submit your lecture reading quiz after it is due, there is a penalty of 1% deduction of the score for every hour that it is late.
  • Lecture Reports/Special Assignments (4% of grade):
    • You will be assigned independent research projects.  We will discuss further on the first day of class.
  • Lecture homework (8% of grade):
    • These will be due on Tuesdays at 11:59 PM, and will be based on material covered in the previous weeks reading and lectures.
    • You can access the lecture homework in MyLab and Mastering.
    • If you submit your lecture homework after it is due, there is a penalty of 1% deduction of the score for every hour that it is late.
    • If you miss a lecture homework due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact us, and we can extend the due date without penalty. 


Lab overview

In lab you will work in groups to develop and test models of the physical world.  You will also develop and test models for simulations that may include alternative physical laws.  In lab you will work as a group to discuss each other's ideas and to record and analyze data such that you will be able to write a report or give a presentation on your group's results by the following week.

Lab graded components

  • Lab in-lab (4% of grade):
    • At the end of each lab your group will be graded out of 2 points based on your group's lab notebook and your group discussions.
    • If you cannot attend one week's lab session in-person, try arranging a Zoom meeting during the lab with your lab group partners. If that does not work, contact the TA for another session to see if you can attend their session. A schedule of labs can be found here.  Be sure to contact your TA and your group members to let them know that you attend another section.
  • Lab reports/presentations (8% of grade):
    • Lab write-ups, full reports, or presentations will be due one week after the lab in which the data was collected.
    • These will be graded as a group, so all members of a group need to contribute in some way that your group determines is fair.
    • It is important that your group discusses responsibilities. If a member of your group is not contributing fairly, discuss and try to resolve the issue within the group first. If there are any conflicts that your group cannot resolve, then you should contact the Lab/Tutorial TA coordinator. The Lab/Tutorial coordinator will meet and discuss the issue with the group members.
    • Even if you attended another lab section for a week, you need to submit the report or presentation with your original group, so you also need to let your group members know and work out how you can contribute to your group's report or presentation.
    • If you submit your lab report/presentation after it is due, there is a penalty of 1% deduction of the score for every hour that it is late.


Tutorial overview

In tutorial you will work in groups of around four students.  Your group will discuss problems designed to develop a conceptual understanding of physical laws though a research based scaffolded discovery process.  Initially you may find the questions challenging and not easy to answer on your own.  Tutorial sections are designed to be a comfortable environment for you to make mistakes.  In the process you will learn how to reflect on your reasoning and to identify where you might make errors.

Tutorial graded 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 Friday at 3:30 PM and are due on Sunday 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, and your tutorial pretest score can be excused. 
  • Tutorial in-class (3% of grade):
    • You need to 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 engage in discussion during the tutorial section.
    • If you cannot attend your tutorial section in a given week, you can attend another section.  A schedule of tutorials can be found here.  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, and your tutorial in-class score can be excused. 
  • Tutorial homework (8% of grade):
    • Each tutorial has homework that is due at 11:59 PM the Monday after you have worked through the tutorial.
    • 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 this page.
    • Only part of the tutorial homework is graded completely (8 pts); the rest is examined for completeness (2 pts).
    • Your lowest tutorial homework score will be automatically dropped.
    • 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 more than one tutorial homework late due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact us, and we can extend the due date without penalty. 


Important note:

Each exam includes questions based on the lectures, labs, and tutorials, so missing a lecture, lab, or tutorial section can have an impact on your exam performance.  If you miss a lecture, lab or tutorial, make sure to work through the missed material to minimize the impact on your course grade.

The exam procedure is described here.

The following dates are preliminary and may change.

  • Midterm exam 1 on January 27th from 5:00 to 6:00 PM in Kane Hall
  • Midterm exam 2 on February 17th from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM in Kane Hall
  • Final exam on March 16th from 8:30am to 10:20am in PAA

Note that there are no make-up exams.  So, 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 us early in the quarter to establish alternate examination procedures.  Exam scores for students who miss an exam without making prior arrangements will be zero.

Each exam is out of 100 points, and has three components:

  • 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: 60% of your average score of the exams (2 midterms and the final)
  • 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.


You will get a grade of 0 for the entire course if you receive less than 8 percentage points out of the 12 possible percentage points for the lab component.

Otherwise 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

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, this link 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.

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.

For students who have a lab or tutorial section at night, night time escort services are available.

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 taking photos or recording instructors, other students, and course materials without permission is 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 Sciences (NSc)
Other Requirements Met: 
Honors Course
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
September 23, 2022 - 10:29pm