What To Expect

Assessment for this small-class seminar-style course is carefully designed with two main goals in mind. First, the workload is spread out as evenly as possible over time, to keep the stress burden minimized. Second, the grading scheme measures a variety of skill sets, to give everyone a chance to shine at something and to develop their abilities. The components are weighted as follows:-

The final exam will not require any algebra, only writing answers to conceptual questions. While it will be a 3-hour exam, most students will need at most 2 hours to finish it.

When To Expect It

Download this handy master calendar for reference.

WeekDateClass topicWork due by 2:10PMWork assigned after class
1Jan.09Intro & powers of 10
2Jan.16Particle physicsEssay 1: LHC and Higgs Boson
3Jan.23Newton's laws
4Jan.30Einstein's refinementsEssay 1 (10%) [1500 words]Oral Presentation topics list
5Feb.06GR & black holesOral Presentation preferencesEssay 2: Black Holes
6Feb.13Quantum weirdness
--[Feb.20][Reading week]----
7Feb.27Quantum wavynessEssay 2 (10%) [1500 words]Oral Presentation assignment
8Mar.06Cosmology 1
9Mar.13Cosmology 2Oral Presentation draft notes (7%) Essay 3: Cosmology
11Mar.27String theoryEssay 3 (10%) [1500 words](Polish & rehearse Oral Presentation)
12Apr.03[Student talks]Oral Presentation (10%) [4 minutes]
[Apr.06-30][Exam period]Final Exam (33%) [written, short answer]

(Note: the final exam will only cover material from Weeks 2-11.)

Deadline Policy

Please see my policy on deadlines for details, especially the part about Grace Days.

Grading Criteria

I do all the teaching and all the grading in this course myself.

Anyone is welcome to read my essay grading rubric, which is based loosely on a template provided by UofT's Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation (CTSI) at an upskilling seminar I attended when I started teaching this course in 2007.

For oral presentations, I grade on two criteria only: (1) physics accuracy, and (2) quality of pedagogy. I expect students to bring speech notes (and hand them in after their talk). This helps make the playing field as level as possible for students with a wide range of spoken English abilities.

Participation Grade

Our course has enrolment limited to two dozen students, making it an unusually conducive environment for learning. In such a small class environment, which centres active learning, each student is a valued and important participant. As the semester progresses, you will find yourself actively learning from other students as well as from the professor. Therefore, to help ensure the best educational experience for everyone in the course, I ask that you please commit to regularly attending and participating in class seminars.

Because in-class participation is central to a seminar-style 199 course, I assign fully half of the participation grade to attendance. The other half I assess on the basis of how much a student speaks up in class and how much evidence they show of having done the assigned pre-class readings.

Academic Integrity and Turnitin

Normally, students will be required to submit their course essays to for a review of textual similarity and detection of possible plagiarism. In doing so, students will allow their essays to be included as source documents in the reference database, where they will be used solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. The terms that apply to the University's use of the service are described on the web site.

If you do not wish to submit your work in this way, you will need to provide alternative documentation to prove that your work is your own. I require electronic and hard copies of two drafts of each essay in earlier stages of development as well as the final product.

Check out these links for more on academic integrity: