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Classical Mechanics
Orbital motion.gif
PHYS 350
Section: 101
Instructor: Jeremy Heyl
Office: Hennings 417
Office Hours: MW 14-15
Class Schedule: MTuWF 13-14
Classroom: Hennings 201
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Classical Mechanics

Instructor: Jeremy Heyl


Topics we will cover include:

  • Rigid Body Motion
  • Normal Modes
  • Central Forces
  • Principle of Least Action
  • Lagrangian Mechanics
  • Hamiltonian Mechanics

Grading Scheme

I will base the grades on the tutorial problem sets (24% - one point for each tutorial meeting), class participation, reading quizzes on WebCT (0-10% - one point for each reading quiz), two midterms (each for 18%) and the final exam (30-40%). The tutorial problems are due at the end of the Friday tutorial session (at 1:50pm in Hennings 201); late submissions will not be accepted.


You complete problems from Kibble & Berkshire during the two one-hour tutorial sessions each week. You are welcome to work on these problems outside of class time if you choose, but during tutorial both the instructor and one of the teaching assistants will be there to answer your questions and help you through the problems; therefore, tutorial time will be time well spent. I will adjust the size of the assignments so that the problems can be completed during tutorials by most of the class.

Open-Book Examinations

The exams will be open book and will consist of problems similar to those in the tutorial (and in Kibble & Berkshire). You can bring in whatever printed material that you like and a calculator. However, laptop computers or devices with internet or wireless access will not be permitted (no cellphones, Blackberries etc.). I will also provide several of the textbooks listed below and mathematical reference books with integral tables etcetra.

Reading Quizzes

The reading quizzes are a great way to increase your grade and encourage you to come prepared for class. You will be expected to have read the assignments by the beginning of each week, so that we can use the lecture time to go over the important points and address any confusion that you might have. Each point that you earn on the reading quizzes will reduce the weight of the final exam; if you attempt a reading quiz but get no points, there is no loss. You can only win by attempting the reading quizzes.


The course will follow Classical Mechanics by Kibble and Berkshire. You may find some of these other books helpful during the course: Schaum's Outline - Lagrangian Mechanics by Wells, Goldstein's Classical Mechanics and Mechanics by Landau and Lifshitz. I have placed all of these books on reserve at the library and they can be ordered through Amazon.

Each of these books has its advantages. I personally refer most often to Landau and then to Goldstein. Landau is the least pedagogical; it is practically axiomatic. Goldstein lies in between and gives a comprehensive upper-level undergraduate or graduate-level treatment. I chose Kibble to be the course book because I felt that it is pitched very close to the right level, has lots of examples, and covers the right topics.

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