66993 - Physics (A-L)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

After completing this course, the student masters the conceptual and methodological tools of physics, which are required to successfully follow the courses in chemistry and biology. In particular, he/she will acquire a basic knowledge of classical physics (Kinematics, Dynamics, Thermodynamics, Electricity, Magnetism, Waves), and the ability to solve simple exercises related to the subjects handled, as well as to acquire experimental data in laboratory experiences and elaborate the results obtained.

Course contents

Scientific Method

  • Measurements and errors
    Introduction to the scientific method; physical quantities; direct and indirect measurements; units of measure; statistical and systematic errors; propagation of errors; precision and accuracy; dimensional analysis
  • Theories and models
    Analytical description of measures; laws of Nature; problem-solving methods in Physics; introduction to Classical Physics


  • Kinematics
    Position, distance and displacement; velocity; acceleration; uniform linear motion; uniformly accelerated motion; scalar and vector quantities; motion in two dimensions
  • Dynamics
    Force and mass; Newtons’s three laws of motion; normal forces; frictional forces; ropes and springs; circular motion
  • Energy
    Work; kinetic energy; conservative and non-conservative forces; potential energy; conservation of energy
  • Collisions
    Momentum; impulse; elastic and inelastic collisions; center of mass
  • Rotational kinematics
    Angular velocity and acceleration; rolling motion; angular kinetic energy; moment of intertia
  • Rotational dynamics
    Twisting moment; angular momentum; rotational work; equilibrium
  • Gravitation
    Newton’s law of universal gravitation; gravitational potential energy
  • Oscillations and waves
    Armonic oscillator; pendulum; waves
  • Fluids
    Density; pressure; Archimedes’ principle; Bernoulli’s equation


    • Temperature and heat
      Temperature; thermal expansion; heat; specific heat capacity; thermal conduction, convection and irradiation; kinetic theory; latent heat; phase transitions
    • Thermodynamics
      The three laws of thermodynamics; thermodynamic processes; heat engines; entropy


    • Electrostatics
      Electric charges; electrical insulators and conductors; Coulomb’s law; electric field; electric potential; capacitors and dielectrics
    • Electric current
      Current; resistor and capacity; Ohm's law
    • Magnetism
      Magnetic field; magnetic forces; Ampère’s circuital law; magnetism in matter; Faraday’s law
    • Electromagnetic waves
      Production and propagation of electromagnetic waves; electromagnetic spectrum


    Recommended book:
    - Fisica generale: Principi e applicazioni, 3/e, Alan Giambattista web page

    - Fondamenti di Fisica 6/Ed. con MyLab, James S. Walker; Pearson
    - FISICA Principi e Applicazioni 2/Ed., Douglas C. Giancoli; Casa Editrice Ambrosiana

    Teaching methods

    The course is formed by three didactic units. Module 1 (7 CFU) consists of theoretical lectures, accompanied by the discussion and resolution of several exercises, to reinforce the learning of general principles. Modules 2 and 3 have an experimental character and consists of laboratory (1 CFU) and data analysis (1 CFU) activities. The three experiences concern mechanics, optics and thermodynamics, respectively.

    As concerns the teaching methods of this course unit, all students must attend Module 1, 2 online, while Module 3 on health and safety is to be attended in class. Information about Module 3 attendance schedule is available on the website of your degree programme.

    Assessment methods

    The assessment consists in a written examination and an oral interview.

    The written test, lasting 2 hours, consists of solving 6 problems concerning the topics of the course program. The use of calculators is allowed. Each problem will be rated from 0 to 5 points (0 if unsolved or totally wrong; from 1 to 4 points if partially solved; 5 points if correct). The validity of the written exam extends only over the academic year during which the written exam has been passed.

    To take the oral interview, it is required to have passed the written exam, and to have attended all the experiments and data analysis experiences of Modules 2 and 3, providing all the relative relations (6 in total). The oral interview, lasting about 20 minutes, aims to assess the knowledge of the topics covered in the program, including demonstrations, and the student's exhibition quality. Moreover, the oral interview includes questions about the laboratory and data analysis activities of Module 2 and 3. A successful oral interview can increase the score of the written examination, up to a maximum of 20%. Conversely, if the oral interview is evaluated negatively, it might determine a reduction of the score of the written examination, up to a maximum of 20%.

    If the grade is lower than 18, or the student decides not to accept it, the exam (written+oral) can be taken in any of the following sessions, without restrictions. "Lode" will be considered only in exceptional cases, after passing both the written examination and the oral interview with top scores.

    The Professor who will verbalize the exam is the responsible of Module 1. To get the exam verbalized, it is sufficient for the student to communicate to the Professor that he/she accepts the proposed evaluations.

    Teaching tools

    The slides of the lessons of Module 1, and all teaching materials of the laboratories and data analysis of Modules 2 and 3 are provided during the course at the web page Virtuale.

    Office hours

    See the website of Federico Marulli

    See the website of Tiziano Rovelli