Should you take the Physics 5 series or Physics 7 series?
Engineering Physics majors, EECS majors, and EECS joint majors are given the choice to pursue the Physics 5 series or the Physics 7 series. While most other engineering majors will allow students to petition to use the Physics 5 series in place of Physics 7 series, it is not necessary to pursue the Physics 5 series unless the student prefers a more theoretical approach to physics.
The Physics 7 series is recommended for most engineering students. Student feedback is that the Physics 7 series provides an appropriate background for most engineering majors.
The Physics 5 Series is a laboratory based sequence that is specifically designed for students interested in majoring in Physics. In some sense, it is an honors version of the Physics 7 series. Physics 5A is a 3-unit lecture course only (no lab) while Physics 5B/BL and 5C/CL offer students significantly more exposure to experimental physics techniques than the more worksheet based labs that are part of the Physics 7 series.
The Physics 5 series is considerably more theoretical and much more math heavy. Student feedback is that these courses can be time-consuming and are not necessarily recommended unless students are planning to take upper division physics courses or are very interested in the electrical engineering side of EECS. The Physics 5 series has been reported to make the transition to upper division physics more manageable.
Please note that for the EECS major and the EECS joint majors students are not permitted to start with Physics 5A and finish with Physics 7B (and 7C for joint majors). Students can, however, begin with 7A and finish the requirement with 5B/5BL (and 5C/5CL for joint majors). EECS majors and EECS joint majors who choose to take Physics 5A do not have the option to switch back to the 7 series. They will need to stay with the 5 series in order to complete the physics requirement for the major.
Both Physics 5A and 7A require students to be enrolled concurrently in Math 1B, or to have Math 1B completed with an exam score or equivalent college coursework.
Students who have scored a 5 on the AP Physics C Mechanics exam can choose to go into either Physics 7B or 5B/5BL. Physics 7B and 5B/BL require concurrent enrollment in Math 53, or completion of Math 53 with equivalent college coursework.