Review of PC1432: Physics IIE
Updated: Jun 29, 2021
As a biomedical engineering student, PC1432 was part of my recommended schedule. Most reviews that I have read describe PC1432 to be demanding and I agree. The assessment criteria are as follows:
1) Lab report – 5%
2) Oral interview during lab sessions – 5%
3) CA1 – 15%
4) CA2 – 15%
5) Finals – 60%
There are 2 lecture slots every week and 1 tutorial every fortnight. Lectures are webcast but I have read reviews that mention Prof Lim does not webcast his lectures. As NUS was moving towards webcasts due to COVID, I am not sure if Prof Lim does not usually webcast his lectures.
Topics taught includes current, electric field, magnetic field, electromagnetic waves, light, quantum physics, and atomic physics. All the above are covered within 3 months and I think it is way too much content to be taught within a semester. As there are 2 lectures every week, I recommend watching them as soon as possible. The videos can pile up easily and it can cause a huge headache later. As I was busy preparing for other modules, I had neglected the lecture videos for PC1432. Within 2 days, I tried to watch 6 lecture videos and my brain felt like mush afterward. Plenty of content is covered in every lecture and it will take time to digest and understand it.
Hello quantum physics. (Source)
At least I am not the only one drowning.... right? (Source)
Tutorials are held every fortnight and the tutorial questions can be extremely tough. Many times, I struggle to finish even one question as it was difficult to apply what I had learned in lectures. Furthermore, the tutorial only covers selected content that is taught in lectures. Additional practices are uploaded on Luminus for students to practice the other concepts. However, I found most of these practices to be difficult as well and it did not help with my understanding. I think it will be better if tutorials were held weekly instead. This can ensure that tutorials cover everything taught and it can improve our understanding of the concepts. Other than having consultations, I think Chegg Study is a great platform to study for PC1432. Most questions we do for PC1432 are from textbooks and Chegg Study has most of the solutions. I paid to try Chegg Study for a month, and it was really useful as I could easily find answers.
Besides lectures and tutorials, there are lab sessions to attend too. I attended two lab sessions and the slots are pre-allocated. The first lab session was to investigate how magnetic force changes due to changing variables. The second lab session is based on atomic spectra. The pre-allocated lab sessions start on week 3 and I think it is a terrible idea. Due to the pre-allocation of lab sessions, I attended the lab sessions before learning about the topic in the lecture. This hindered my ability to perform and understand the experiment at hand.
I had a partner to work through the experiments with, but we had to submit our lab report individually. There was not much information about the lab report given to us. I only knew that it must be handwritten and the rough format of it. As I was unsure of what to include, I am pretty sure that I did not do well for the lab reports.
During the session, the tutor will test each pair of partners orally about the experiment. Since I went for the lab session before the topic was taught in lectures, I had to make up an answer on the spot. I am also sure that I did not perform well for the oral segment HAHA. I recommend reading up background information before the experiment if the lecture has not yet covered the chapter.
Term test 1 was on chapters about the current and electric field, which took place in week 7. Term test 2 tested chapters about the magnetic field, electromagnetic waves, and light, which took place in week 13. Both tests were closed-booked MCQ with 15 questions each and a formula sheet is given. I found both tests to be doable despite the arduous tutorials and additional practices. I recommend doing the past year tests instead. They give a good estimate of the standard one can expect and the papers are of reasonable difficulty.
Unlike other years, my final was comprised of 25 MCQ questions as it was a take-home examination. In the previous semesters, the final was made up of multiple long physics questions and each question consists of several parts. I would recommend revising all the physics notes and doing all the practice papers. Oftentimes only the final solution for the practice paper is uploaded onto Luminus. I found it to be problematic because I do not know where I went wrong. This was when my subscription to Chegg Study became handy as I could easily source for full solutions to understand the question. All in all, I thought that my final was manageable and easier than the previous batches because it is MCQ.
Even though my final was MCQ, it does not change the fact that PC1432 was a demanding module. To do well for PC1432, one must be diligent in revision and practice. There is a lot of content and it is not easy to comprehend. I took H2 physics in JC and it did provide background knowledge regarding some topics. However, the calculations done in PC1432 are vastly different and the content is more abstract.
I came into PC1432 thinking I was prepared, only to be rekted instead. (Source)