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Physics Practicals


PHY385F - Introductory Optics . An introduction to the physics of light.  Topics covered include: electromagnetic waves and propagation of light; the Huygens and Fermat principles; Geometrical optics and optical instruments; Interference of waves and diffraction; Polarization; Introduction to photons, lasers, and optical fibers. 


Practicals Introduction

During your practicals, you will be working in groups of 3 to 4 people. You will recieve one note book per group. New groups will be formed after test 1, and there will be a new rotation after test 2.

At the top of each page of your lab notebook, please list the date and a page number. At the beginning of each day, list the names of all the partners in the team that were present. (If anyone is late or must leave early, please make a note of this in the lab notebook when it happens.)

How the Practicals Work

The Practicals meet for 110 minutes every week.

The heart of your learning in the Practicals is going through a series of Activities. Most of the Activities are closely related to what is currently being discussed in class, although sometimes they will extend that material or occasionally introduce other topics which we feel are important for you to know about. Each Practical session will also include time for solving problems, student questions and discussion.

Practicals Activities will be turned in and marked at the end of the practicals section. They will be marked and turned back to you at the next session, and the marks will be worth 18% of your mark in the course. At some sessions, you will solve one problem of a quiz. The quiz mark will constitute 4% of the final course mark. Only the best 4 out of 6 quiz marks will count.

All work is team work, done in the black team notebook, in an assigned team of 3 students, and everyone in the team shares the mark. Ideally, you will work with one team for the first 5 practicals, and then we will be scrambling teams for the second half of the term.
When working on these activities, please work as a team. Your Team will keep a single lab book, which is to be a complete record of everything you did, what you and your teammates thought it meant, and what conclusions you have drawn from your work. The TA will keep the lab books in between practicals’ there is no homework or special preparation for these practicals. The Record-Keeper is officially in charge of making sure the notebook is complete, but all members should contribute equally.


For each Practical session members of each Team should serve the following roles:

  • Facilitator. This person, a different individual each week, is responsible for keeping the Team on track with the Activities. When the entire Practical group discusses some topic, the Facilitator will be the Team’s primary spokesperson.

  • Record-Keeper. This person, also a different individual each week, takes primary responsibility for recording all answers in the write-up that will be marked.

  • Computer/Wiki-master. This person, also a different individual each week, takes primary responsibility for any online research or computer activities



This Introduction to PHY385 Practicals was written by Jason B. Harlow, Dept. of Physics, Univ. of Toronto, in the Winter of 2012, updated Natalia Krasnopolskaia in September 2014; and last updated by Damya Souami in August 2016.