Course Title: Physics for Leaders

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Physics for Leaders

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2017

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Johan du Plessis

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2144

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

Physics for Leaders is an introductory course designed for any university student interested in the science underlying modern technology and its implications for real life issues.  Just as the leaders of a country should be expected to be informed about the basic principles around contentious issues such as climate change and nuclear power, the same applies to every university student . The course covers topics such as: energy, global waming,  terrorism, health, internet, satellites, remote sensing, ICBMs, DVDs and HDTVs - all economic and political issues increasingly have a strong high technology content. The course does not have any mathematical prerequisites.

 (This course is also core to the Applied Science Program and is aimed at students that have not studied Physics at secondary level. As stated above, it aims to educate you in a wide range of physics and technological topics without the usual mathematical framework).

This course is not designed to lead on to second or third year studies in Physics. For that you should take PHYS2123 Modern Physics.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

After participating in lectures, discussions and using the resources available, you will be equipped with the tools you need to make informed decisions and to argue your views persuasively with anyone--expert or otherwise. In particular, you should be able to apply the basic principles in the following fields to a variety of technical and political issues:

•Energy and Power
•Atoms and Heat
•Gravity, force and Space
•Nuclei and Radioactivity
•Chain reactions, nuclear reactions and atomic bombs
•Electricity and magnetism
•Waves, including earthquakes and music
•Light and invisible light including medical imaging
•Climate change
•Quantum physics
•The Universe 

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes:

2. Scientific Knowledge

  • PLO-2.2 You will have knowledge in at least one discipline other than your primary discipline and some understanding of interdisciplinary linkages.

Overview of Learning Activities

You will learn in this course by:
• attendance at lectures where material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples;
• private study, working through the material as presented in lectures, texts and notes;
• taking part in tutorials, workshops and discussions designed to enhance further understanding, and to give feedback on student progress and understanding;
• completing written assignments requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter;
• Formative assessment, including BlackBoard tests.

Overview of Learning Resources

•    The main resource would be the text: Physics and Technology for Future Presidents: An Introduction to the Essential Physics Every World Leader Needs to Know Richard A. Muller
•    Additional resources will be provided through the DLS.

Overview of Assessment

Much of the assessment is formative and done continuously throughout the semester, through written assignments and tests, some of which may be administered through the DLS. There will a final examination in the course to assess overall integration of concepts and mastery of the course material.