PHYS 350 Applications of Classical Mechanics Syllabus (draft)

2023 Winter Session, Term 2 (Jan-April 2024)

Calendar Description

Review of principles. Particle mechanics: Euler's equations, tops and gyroscopes, motion of the Earth, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods. Variational principles in optics and mechanics, Liouville's theorem and statistical mechanics. The relationship between classical and quantum mechanics.
This course is eligible for Credit/D/Fail grading. To determine whether you can take this course for Credit/D/Fail grading, visit the Credit/D/Fail website. You must register in the course before you can select the Credit/D/Fail grading option.
Credits: 3
Pre-reqs: None. [See next section.]

Expected background material

This course is intended primarely for Engineering Physics students. Background typical of such students will be expected, in particular in mechanics, calculus and matrix/linear algebra at the second year level, together with proficiency in numerical methods. Specific courses taken by Engineering Physics students in their second year can be found here.


Lectures: Mon, Wed and Fri, 15:00 - 16:00, in Hebb 114
Mandatory Tutorial: Mon 9-10 am (sorry!) in Hebb 114

Office Hours: an up-to-date office hour schedule will be maintained on the Canvas Syllabus Page.


We will be using Classical Mechanics by John R. Taylor.


Professor: Joanna Karczmarek Outside of lectures and office hours, ask questions on Piazza or reach me via email.

Teaching Assistants: Yannick Lecoeuche (ylecoeuc AT and Abhisek Sahu (abhi AT

Learning sources and References

Textbook: "Classical Mechanics" by John R. Taylor

A copy of this textbook has been placed on reserve at the library. Purchasing the textbook is not mandatory, but course readings will be refering to specific sections from this book. If/when homework questions will be assigned from the textbook, the text of the question will be quoted in the homework paper.

Other books

If Taylor's textbook does not click with you, you might want to check out one of these: Finally, for a fun read on some of the topics, check out Feynman Lectures.

Grading scheme and policies

Attendence in class and the tutorial is expected.

There will be 6 Problem sets. These will be posted and due on the following dates:
  • PS1 posted: Jan 15 / due: Jan 22
  • PS2 posted: Jan 29 / due: Feb 12
  • PS3 posted: Feb 12 / due: Feb 26
  • PS4 posted: Feb 26 / due: Mar 11
  • PS5 posted: Mar 11 / due: Mar 25
  • PS6 posted: Mar 25 / due: Apr 8
Your lowest homework grade will be dropped from the final course grade. For long term absences, when further accomodation is warranted, the weight of those HWs might be moved to the final exam, or make-up work could be assigned.

Homework solutions should be handed in on paper, or uploaded via Canvas (in PDF format). If you experience technical problems, you can email the solutions to me instead. Solutions should be complete, clearly written and legible. For computer-based work (such as plotting), please include your code or an equivalent presentation of your work (such as screenshots of on-line tools).

Homework that is late (even by an hour) might not be accepted for credit, since solutions will be posted immediately after deadline.

Group discussion of Homework is encouraged, but the solutions you hand in must be your own work. This means you should not be looking at anybody else's notes, solutions or code while writing up your solutions. If asked questions, you may share your thinking with classmates, but not your completed work. Both copying from another student's completed work and sharing your completed work with another student will be considered academic misconduct.
Midterms and Final exam
There will be two midterms, administered during class time, each worth 15%.

Final exam will be worth 50%.

If your grade on the final exam is better than one (or both) of your midterm grades, these lower grades will be dropped and replaced with the final exam grade. Notice however that questions on the final exam are more usually more involved than those on the midterms.

Midterms will be held in class (3-4pm) and cannot be taken online. The dates will be Feb 14 and Mar 27. The midterms will be up to one hour long.

Please do not come to write a midterm while sick. If you do show up to class and are clearly ill, I will ask you to go home.

If you are sick on a final exam day, do not attend the exam. You must apply for deferred standing (an academic concession) through Science Advising no later than 48 hours after the missed final exam/assignment. Students who are granted deferred standing write the final exam/assignment at a later date. Learn more and find the application online:\ on.

For additional information about academic concessions, see the UBC policy here:,329,0,0.

Public Health related information

UBC's covid-related information with most recent updates


Masks are currently not required at UBC. Please be respectful and courteous towards others; you don't always know the circumstances behind their choices.


If you have not yet had a chance to get vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19, free vaccines are available. (link).

Stay home when sick

If you are sick, it is important that you stay home no matter what you think you may be sick with (flu, cold, covid, etc...). Coming to schoo If sick, use the self-assessment for Covid symptoms using this tool: In this class, the marking scheme is intended to provide flexibility so that you can prioritize your health and still be able to succeed. See the grading scheme above for details.

UBC provides resources to support student learning and to maintain healthy lifestyles but recognizes that sometimes crises arise and so there are additional resources to access including those for survivors of sexual violence. UBC values respect for the person and ideas of all members of the academic community. Harassment and discrimination are not tolerated nor is suppression of academic freedom. UBC provides appropriate accommodation for students with disabilities and for religious, spiritual and cultural observances. UBC values academic honesty and students ae expected to acknowledge the ideas generated by others and to uphold the highest academic standards in all of their actions. Details of the policies and how to access support are available here.

UBC takes academic misconduct (this includes copying of homework, cheating on exams and plagiarism) very seriously, and the penalties are stiff. See sections on Academic Honesty and Standards and Academic Misconduct in the UBC Academic Calendar.

During this pandemic, the shift to online learning has greatly altered teaching and studying at UBC, including changes to health and safety considerations. Keep in mind that some UBC courses might cover topics that are censored or considered illegal by non-Canadian governments. This may include, but is not limited to, human rights, representative government, defamation, obscenity, gender or sexuality, and historical or current geopolitical controversies. If you are a student living abroad, you will be subject to the laws of your local jurisdiction, and your local authorities might limit your access to course material or take punitive action against you. UBC is strongly committed to academic freedom, but has no control over foreign authorities (please visit,33,86,0 for an articulation of the values of the University conveyed in the Senate Statement on Academic Freedom). Thus, we recognize that students will have legitimate reason to exercise caution in studying certain subjects. If you have concerns regarding your personal situation, consider postponing taking a course with manifest risks, until you are back on campus or reach out to your academic advisor to find substitute courses. For further information and support, please visit:

Copyright notice: all material in this course is copyrighted by Joanna Karczmarek (the instructor). It is provided online to you, the students registered in the course. You may not post, share or publish any of the course materials without explicit permission from the instructor (Joanna Karczmarek). This applies even to those portions of the course materials that are shared with the public by the instructor or other authorized agents. Moreover, sharing exam, test and/or quiz questions, or solutions to any questions posed in the course (including those in worsheets, homework, quizzes, tests, exams and any practice materials) might constitute academic misconduct.