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PHSI131 Fundamentals of Physics I

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The development of physical law from Newton to the revolutionary ideas of quantum physics formulated by Planck, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Bohr and Einstein. The physics of the real world: motion, energy and its transfer, and an introduction to the quantum mechanical nature of light and matter. Applications of the principles of physics to a technological society.

PHSI 131 Fundamentals of Physics I is the first semester of a two-semester, introductory, calculus-based sequence. Our goal is for you to learn to approach, solve and understand a wide variety of physics problems on both qualitative and quantitative levels and to relate "classroom physics" to the real world we live in. We emphasise conceptual understanding along with problem-solving skills.

Paper title Fundamentals of Physics I
Paper code PHSI131
Subject Physics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,004.75

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PHSI 191
Schedule C
(i) It is recommended that students enrolling for PHSI131 have a background in NCEA Level 3 Physics and Mathematics (or equivalent). (ii) Students with excellent results in NCEA Level 3 Physics (or equivalent) are advised to contact the departmental course adviser about substituting an appropriate 200-level paper for PHSI131.
This paper is suited to students with a good working knowledge of secondary-education-level physics (NCEA level 3). A good knowledge of trigonometry and algebra is assumed, and we recommend that students take MATH 160 and 170 concurrently with PHSI 131 and PHSI 132.
Course Director:
Course Co-ordinator:
Teaching staff

Professor Blair Blakie
Associate Professor Mikkel Andersen
Professor David Hutchinson
Dr Terry Scott
Paul Yates
Paul Muir


Required: Katz, Deborah M. Physics for Scientists and Engineers: Foundations and Connections, Extended Version with Modern Physics.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students completing this paper will:
  1. Know the basic physical laws in the key topics of the paper: Newtonian classical mechanics, wave mechanics, and introduction to the quantum mechanical nature of light and matter
  2. Apply the physical laws to understand modern technologies and predict the outcome of real-world physical phenomena
  3. Use physical principles, in conjunction with calculus, to solve quantitative problems in the topic areas
  4. Present a solution to a physics problem and be able to assess whether a solution is physically reasonable

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
Wednesday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
Thursday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
Friday 11:00-11:50 9-12, 15-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Tuesday 14:00-16:50 10-13, 15-22
A3 Wednesday 14:00-16:50 10-13, 15-22
A4 Thursday 14:00-16:50 10-13, 15-22
A5 Thursday 18:00-20:50 10-13, 15-22
A6 Friday 14:00-16:50 10-12, 15-22
A7 Wednesday 18:00-20:50 10-13, 15-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 10-13, 15-16, 18-22
A2 Monday 11:00-11:50 10-13, 15-16, 18-22
A3 Monday 13:00-13:50 10-13, 15-16, 18-22
A4 Monday 13:00-13:50 10-13, 15-16, 18-22