Berkeley 7 Series Articulation Issues

On September 1, 2017, Aurelia Long, Berkeley Articulation Officer, provided the update on policies concerning articulating to Cal’s Physics 7 series.  Needless to say, it raised some concern.

From: Aurelia Long
Date: September 1, 2017 at 3:57:17 PM HST
Subject: [ciac] For CCC AOs: Physics articulationDear CCC AOs,On behalf of UC Berkeley’s Physics Department faculty, I want to update you on the status of an articulation re-evaluation.  We have begun to see a problematic trend, primarily from transfer students in engineering and the biological sciences who completed non or inadequate calculus based physics at a community college.  Completion of physics classes without proper calculus preparation has proven to be a significant problem for students continuing their education here at UC Berkeley and beyond. Therefore, a review was conducted to determine/confirm pre-requisites and course content necessary for articulation with UC Berkeley Physics 7A, 7B, and 7C. As a result, all community college courses with inadequate calculus prerequisites which are currently articulated with the Physics 7 series will end, effective Fall 2018. However, students who have completed currently articulated physics classes prior to Fall 2018 will be grand-fathered in for a period of 3 years.We are committed to seeing all transfer students get adequate preparation for their UC Berkeley degrees and their future goals. In order to do this, we must ensure that the courses that have/gain an articulation are, in fact, equivalents of our courses. We hope to continue to work with you to establish and maintain articulation with the Physics series. If in the future your courses are updated and/or if you add calculus supplements that students could take along with their physics courses, we encourage you to submit these courses for articulation review as soon as possible.For your reference, the catalog description and associated prerequisites for is copied below:

PHYSICS 7A Physics for Scientists and Engineers 4 Units, Mechanics and wave motion.

Prerequisites: High school physics; Math 1A Calculus; Corequisite: Math 1B Calculus

PHYSICS 7B Physics for Scientists and Engineers 4 Units, Heat, electricity, and magnetism.

Prerequisites: 7A, Math 1A Calculus; Math 1B Calculus; Corequisite: Math 53 Multivariable Calculus

PHYSICS 7C Physics for Scientists and Engineers 4 Units, Electromagnetic waves, optics, relativity, and quantum physics.

Prerequisites: 7A-7B, Math 1A Calculus; Math 1B Calculus, Math 53 Multivariable Calculus; Corequisite: Math 54 Linear Algebra and Differential Equations

Descriptions of the content of the required math and physics course courses can be found in the Berkeley course catalog (

Thank you for your continuing partnership and fabulous efforts on behalf of our community college students.


​Aurelia Long

Articulation Officer

University of California, Berkeley

Central Evaluation Unit

At the Fall 2017 NCN-AAPT meeting, a group of TYC Physics faculty met and discussed what questions needed to be asked, and what actions could be taken.

Andrew Park received clarification on some of these issues from Claudia Trujillo of the Cal Physics department.  Importantly:

 * Requiring high-school physics as prereq is not an issue UC Berkeley Physics Department cares about. Yes, the requirement has been on UC Berkeley course catalog for Physics 7 series for a long time, but UC Berkeley also does not—and is unable to—enforce it, if a student who has not taken high school physics wants to take Physics 7A.
 * The biggest issue is alignment in the math requirement (Math 1A prerequisite and 1B co-requisite for Physics 7A, Math 53 co-requisite for Physics 7B, and Math 54 co-requisite for Physics 7C), and that the physics content is taught with this level of mathematics. This is because of issues they have had with transfer students struggling in upper-division coursework (for example, depending on how it is taught, it is possible for some students to transfer without having solved a differential equation in quantum-mechanics context, which would make it difficult for the students to catch up at the upper-division level).
Ms. Trujillo will facilitate a meeting between the appropriate Cal faculty and a working group of TYC Physics faculty.  If possible, this meeting will be available via teleconference.
Some outstanding issues:
* Timing – We have been asked to complete these changes by Fall 2018.  While pathways exist, many of us needed to get changes like this into our systems last Spring.  We would like to get an extension to Fall 2020. [This may have been addressed in the Nov. 21 update]
* Units – The addition of higher-level math classes may upset unit counts on pre-existing ADTs, many of which are already at their limits.
* Content via COR – Couldn’t many of these issues be handled via modification of COR rather than math pre-reqs?  For example, stating that volume integrals of non-uniform charge densities will be covered in E&M rather than requiring the corresponding math class?
* Impact of these new requirements on quarter-system schools – Foothill, De Anza and Lake Tahoe are on quarters.  All use first-quarter calculus as a pre-req for their 7A equivalents.  It would be onerous to require two quarters of calculus before starting Mechanics.  As the second and third quarter transfer in tandem (not course-for-course), how should the math pre-reqs be sorted here?
November 21 Update
Andrew Park received another round of clarification from Claudia Trujillo:
 * There is an update coming out through Aurelia’s articulation office, including a push-back of deadline dates. She couldn’t give a timeline on when it would come out, other than that the information is already at the articulation office.
 * For a meeting between physics faculty, it is too late this semester to schedule one, but if there is a need, a meeting can be scheduled in Spring 2018, likely towards the end of the semester.
She also wanted me to convey a message: UC Berkeley is committed to the success of transfer students. Transfer students are an important part of UC Berkeley (as you know, about 1/3 of UC Berkeley undergraduate students) and serving them well is an important part of UC Berkeley’s mission. None of these changes (which aren’t really changes, in terms of what UC Berkeley has always required of its own students) are meant to impose on community colleges, but rather they are coming from a desire to prepare students better and bridge the gap many transfer students experience after transferring.

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