PC1141 Introduction to Classical Mechanics

Module: PC1141 Introduction to Classical Mechanics

Semester taken: AY 2019/20 Semester 1

Lecturer: Dr Wang Qinghai

Tutor: Mr Ho Canyang Asaph

Textbook: University Physics with Modern Physics, Global Edition, 14/E, Young Freedman, 2015. Pearson

What it is about

This module teaches you all about mechanics and covers essentially everything about the topic in one module. You will learn to appreciate Physics in everyday life to a whole new level.

Assessment components

  • In-class quizzes: 10%

  • Tutorials: 5%

  • Labs: 15%

  • Homework Assignments (MasteringPhysics): 10%

  • Mid-terms: 10%

  • Finals: 50%


This module is one of the first 2 modules that Physics majors will have to take in their first year of studies in NUS, and it is one of the modules that are available for CS students to take to fulfill their Science requirement. I decided to take this module purely out of interest, as I did relatively well for GEH1035 which I took in Year 1, and I did not like Biology.

This was the biggest mistake that I have ever committed.

The Physics taught in this module is not the kind of Physics that A Level students are used to. Previously, the focus was more on solving questions, using the appropriate equations and figures to derive the final answer. However, university Physics takes it to a much higher level, where the focus is more on understanding and proving the correctness of your answer. You will also be required to use calculus extensively in this module, which I was definitely not prepared for.

The Physics majors who are taking this module are likely to have a strong Physics background, which is why they are even taking this module in the first place. There is absolutely no chance for “outsiders” like me to survive in this environment, unless I have been extremely (not very, extremely) interested in university Physics.

The lecturer, Dr Wang Qinghai, often cracks jokes during lectures and tries to lighten the mood. However, I felt that he does not put in any effort to help weaker students in the class. Many times, there are students that approach him after the lecture has ended to clarify doubts, especially when he does not explain things very clearly during lecture. However, he will just brush them off and quite a few times even scolded the students for “not listening”. He is a popular tutor, but overall coming from the School of Computing where the professors are much better and more attentive to students, I would give him a pass.

There are about 4 hours of lecture each week, and 3 hours of labs and 1 hour of tutorials every alternate weeks. Most of the learning is done in the lectures and then applied on a platform called MasteringPhysics. Answers to the questions can be found online, which most students would just resort to copying just to score the 10%. There is also a LearningCatalytics component that you need to complete during the lecture slots, so you definitely need to still attend lectures.


The tutorials are 1 hour every alternate weeks and the time is spent going through all the questions in the tutorial. The class size is relatively small (about 15 or so people), and there are ample opportunities for you to go up and present your answers.

The tutor I got did try his best to explain the concepts to the class, but being surrounded by people who are generally much smarter than you in Physics, it’s difficult to catch up after a while.


Labs are the most fun component of the module, as you are able to see the Physics in action. I felt that the experiments are also conducted in a much more detailed fashion compared to A Levels.

There are a total of 4 lab sessions to attend, and each session covers a concept that was taught in lecture within the last 2-3 weeks. However, the lab reports that needs to be submitted at the end of the session is quite a pain, as there are lots of calculations to be done and it is quite difficult to complete before the end of the session. Hence, always prepare beforehand by drawing the results tables and prepare your Excel workbook so that you just need to fill in the numbers and get the calculations immediately.

Labs are also done in pairs, and I was paired with a year 4 statistics major student. Had countless headaches working together due to his lack of knowledge in Excel, but eventually managed to score quite well in this component (mostly A).

Mid-terms and Finals

The mid-terms were all in MCQ whereas the finals were written questions. No “special” calculators are allowed, which refers to graphing calculators and calculators that can perform integrations and summations. No past year papers are provided, except the one from 2015 which is from a different lecturer, and the tests are all closed book.

Everything taught in the module was tested in the finals, so there are quite a few concepts to memorise. However, a list of equations are provided in the paper, so the main issue is in the level of understanding for the concepts taught in class.

The most annoying part is the lack of past year papers, but I am guessing it is due to the lecturer’s laziness in trying to come up with new questions to test. Nonetheless, I realised subsequently that the exact same questions were used in the Advanced Placement Tests conducted by NUS Science, so you can make use of the sample paper given to have a gauge of the difficulty level.

Other information

Assignment workload: There is 1 assignment on MasteringPhysics almost every week to complete.

Project workload: There were no projects.

Readings: None

Recommended if: A compulsory module for Physics majors, but definitely not recommended for anyone at all, even if you are very interested in Physics. There are better modules out there.

Rating: 0/5. Totally a waste of time if you are not a Physics major.

Expected grade: C+ (almost every component was bad)

Actual grade: S (Actual: B-)

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