Physics for Environmental Sciences
Cod: 21051
Department: DCET
Scientific area: Physics
Total working hours: 156
Total contact time: 26

The objective of this course unit is to provide students with the basic knowledge on physics necessary for them to understand the surrounding world, its constituent parts and their interactions, with an emphasis on the physical phenomena related to the environment.

1. Physics
2. Mechanics
3. Energy
4. Environment

  1. Using suitably the physics-mathematical language to structure and express opinions.
  2. Applying physic concepts, principles and theories to problematic situations of the real world.
  3. Searching, selecting and organizing information to later turn into applicable knowledge to daily phenomena.
  4. Adopting scientific strategies suitable for problem solving and decision making.
  5. Performing activities in an autonomous, responsible and creative way, in a collaborative environment.

Physical quantities and units
Physics and the representation of reality that surrounds us. Scalar and vector physical quantities, dimensions of quantities. Unit systems and significant figures.

Mechanics I: forces and movements
Elementary kinematics and one-dimensional motion with constant speed and constant acceleration. Two-dimensional motion and its specific quantities. Newton’s laws of dynamics. Common forces. Applications of Newton’s laws to the study of static and dynamical phenomena.
Mechanics II: energy and linear momentum
Forms of energy and work-energy theorems. Conservative and non-conservative systems. Universal gravitation law and Kepler’s laws of planetary orbits. Linear momentum and its conservation.
Wave mechanics
Simple harmonic movement and examples. Mechanical waves in water, strings and springs. Sinusoidal travelling waves and stationary waves. Sound waves, the ear and audition. Intensity of sound waves and sound pollution.
Elementary Thermodynamics
Heat and the work-heat equivalence. Absorption of heat by bodies and phase transitions. Mechanisms of heat transfer.

  1. David Halliday, Robert Resnick & Jearl Walker. Fundamentals of Physics, vols. 1 and 2. Ed. Wiley.
  2. Raymond Serway & John Jewett, Jr. Principles of Physics, vols. 1 and 2. Ed. Brooks Cole.
  3. Frederick Bueche & Eugene Hecht. Physics. Ed. McGraw-Hill.


Continuous assessment is privileged: 2 or 3 digital written documents (e-folios) during the semester (40%) and a presence-based final exam (p-folio) in the end of the semester (60%). In due time, students can alternatively choose to perform one final presence-based exam (100%).

Course unit pre-requisites: basic knowledge of Calculus.