Montana State University

PHSX 491-801: Conceptual Physics

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Jun 02-Jul 27, 2014
Credit: 3 undergraduate
Tuition & Fees: $835.50 NSTA members receive a discount.
Instructor(s): Robert Wilson

Register Online

Course Description

This course describes the workings of the world around us. The everyday: how a ball moves when it is thrown, the forces you feel on a roller-coaster, what happens when you turn on a light switch; and the esoteric: time and space from the perspective of Einstein's relativity, the basic structure of atoms and nuclei. The course is mostly at the conceptual level, with some simple algebraic problem solving. A unique feature of the class is a series of at-home experiments using simple materials to illustrate some basic ideas of physics.

Meeting Place and Times

This course is taught online. Course participants login and participate at a time of day that is convenient for them. The course is highly structured with assignment due dates every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and with the expectation that you will contribute to on-line discussion several times each week. It is recommended that participants login at least 4 to 5 times per week and plan on spending 15 to 22 hours each week while the course is in session (a combination of online and offline activities) to successfully complete this 3 credit upper level intensive undergraduate course. If you need to be out of touch with the course for more than a couple of days at a time, we suggest taking the course at another time, as this will affect your ability to successfully complete the course. This is a full semester (15-week) course being taught in just 8 weeks, so the time commitment of about 20 hours per week is more intense than usual. Missing even a week would be the equivalent of missing 2 weeks of a full semester course.


Robert Wilson. is retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at San Bernardino Valley College. He taught Physics there for 37 years and was also Director of the College Science Learning Center. Professor Wilson received his B.S. and M.A. from California State University at Long Beach.


A Bachelor's degree and one year of teaching experience is required.

Target Audience

This course is designed primarily for middle and high school science teachers.

Time Commitment:

15-22 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

 Program Fee $158.70
 Computer Fee$10.50

You are on your own to purchase the required text. See information below.

NSTA Members are eligible to receive a 10% discount on tuition. Enter your NSTA Membership Number when you are asked for it on the registration form to receive your discount.

A $30 registration fee is also charged once per semester.

The costs above assume that you are taking only MSU Extended University courses during the semester that the course is offered. If you also registered for courses through the MSU Registrar, the regular MSU fee structure may apply.

A $40 late fee will be assessed if payment is not posted to your account by 3 pm (Mountain Time) of the course start date (or the business day before if the course starts on a weekend or a holiday).

To learn more about tuition and fees, please see the University Business Services' Student Accounts Web page.

Required Books/Materials

  • Physics: A Conceptual World View by Kirkpatrick and Francis, 7th Edition, Thomson Brooks/Cole, (ISBN: 0495391522).

Text may be purchased from the publisher Cengage Learning (just type the ISBN in the "Student" search section). The text is available from other sources as well.

Optional Books/Materials:

  • Problem Solving
    7th, ISBN-10: 0-495-82824-6

    This mathematical supplement is keyed to the textbook and develops some of the numerical aspects of this course that can be addressed with simple algebra and geometry. Though not required, some students have also found the Problem Solving Supplement useful.

    This supplement is available separately or bundled.

Computer Requirements:

  • Computer running Windows XP Service Pack 3 or newer or Mac OS X.5 (Leopard) or higher
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Internet access

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

contact Professor Bob Wilson at

How to Register

Register Online

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