Very broadly, Physics is the study of energy as opposed to Chemistry, which studies matter and how energy and matter interact with each other. Physics is very much a "service course" at all universities in that there are not very many Physics majors but a great many students have to take it for their major. Students who do well in Physics courses learn extremely useful things about science. They also develop an expertise in problem solving that can be applied to other rigorous courses. Here at DCCC we offer both the Algebra based General Physics sequence and the Calculus based Engineering Physics sequence. Each course has Physics I taught in the Fall Semester and Physics II taught in the Spring Semester.
The General Physics course sequence has College Algebra as a pre-requisite. This is important because Physics is very quantitative, and students are expected to have the mathematical background necessary to manipulate and solve equations. Trigonometry is a useful but not required course to have before taking Physics. General Physics satisfies the one year requirement for students interested in medical, dental and veterinary schools as well as the one year of Physics needed for a Biology major at most universities. While the KU School of Pharmacy will accept high school Physics as sufficient for their program, many states will not do this. Because the sciences are interdependent, taking the two- course Physics sequence will complement well and deepen the understanding of the other science courses of Biology and Chemistry.
The Engineering Physics sequence has Calculus I as a prerequisite or co-requisite. For Engineering Physics II, students should be taking or have already taken Calculus II. The courses cover the same general topics as General Physics (general mechanics, wave mechanics, electricity, thermodynamics, and optics), but Calculus is used to derive the theory, and it is also used in solving some of the problems. This course sequence is required for students interested in going into any type of Engineering. In addition, Physics and Chemistry majors should take this sequence. Professional schools, such as medical schools, also look favorably on students who have taken a Calculus based Physics sequence.