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Academic Program > Major and Minor Fields of Study > Physics

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Physics

Chair Gregory W. Clark, Ted Tao, Christer G. Watson

The Physics Department offers (a) cultural knowledge of physics for students not specializing in the sciences, (b) supporting courses for students specializing in the sciences, (c) pre-professional training for students expecting to enter medical or engineering schools, (d) preparation for high school science teaching or for a science-related occupation in industry or in government, (e) preparation for graduate study in physics or related sciences.

Two levels of introductory physics courses are offered by the department. The college physics sequence is algebra-based; the general physics sequence is calculus-based and intended primarily for majors in the sciences and mathematics.

Baccalaureate Degree
Major in physics, 36 hours: PHYS 210, 220, 301, 310; two hours selected from; PHYS 301L, 310L, 320L, 345L; 18 hours selected from; PHYS 241, 315, 320, 340, 410, 425, 432, 380/480, 385/485, 499.

Majors must successfully complete the senior comprehensive evaluation prior to graduation. Details are available from the department chair.

Minor in physics, 24 hours: PHYS 210, 220, 310; one hour selected from; PHYS 301L, 310L, 320L, 345L; six hours selected from; PHYS 241, 301, 315, 320, 340, 410, 425, 432, 380/480.

Requirements for teaching majors are available in the Office of Teacher Education.

Courses PHYS

111 COLLEGE PHYSICS I - 4 hours
Primarily for students with no high school physics background. The main topics include classical mechanics and thermal physics. Instruction is by lecture, demonstration, discussion, problem solving and laboratory experiences. Includes three lecture periods and a three-hour laboratory per week. This course is not intended for majors in the physical sciences and does not count toward a physics or engineering science major. Course is first of a two-semester sequence although it may be taken as a stand-alone course. Prerequisite: MATH 105 or higher. Enrollment in MATH 105 may be concurrent. Fall. C-4NP.

112 COLLEGE PHYSICS II - 4 hours
This course is a continuation of PHYS 111. The main topics include electricity and magnetism, optical physics and modern physics. Instruction is by lecture, demonstration, discussion, problem solving, and laboratory experiences. Includes three lecture periods and a three-hour laboratory per week. This course is not intended for majors in the physical sciences and does not count toward a physics or engineering science major. This course is the second of a two-semester sequence. Prerequisite: PHYS 111. Spring.

210 GENERAL PHYSICS I - 4 hours
This course is the first of a two-semester sequence in calculus-based physics. Topics include an introduction to derivatives, integrals and vectors, motion in one and two dimensions, rotational motion, energy, gravitation, sound and thermal physics. This course is intended for physics, chemistry, engineering science, mathematics and other science majors. Includes three class meetings and a three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: MATH 121. Enrollment in MATH 121 may be concurrent. Fall. C-4NP.

220 GENERAL PHYSICS II - 4 hours
This course is the second of a two-semester sequence in calculus-based physics. Topics include electrostatics, basic LCR circuits, magnetism, optics, electromagnetic waves, and modern physics. This course is intended for physics, chemistry, engineering science, mathematics, and other science majors. Includes three class meetings and a three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: MATH 122; PHYS 210. Enrollment in MATH 122 may be concurrent. Spring. C-4NP.

241 FUNDAMENTALS OF ELECTRONICS - 4 hours
An introduction to analog and digital electronics. Main topics include semiconductor principles, power supplies, amplifier circuits, application of linear and digital integrated circuits, and the principles and applications of electronic instruments. Circuit design problems and laboratory experience are major components of the course. Prerequisite: PHYS 112, 210. January, even years.

301 Electricity and Magnetism - 3 hours
A review of the mathematics of vector fields and an in-depth study of Maxwell’s equations as applied to electrostatic fields in vacuum and dielectrics, magnetostatic fields and magnetic fields in matter. Prerequisites: MATH 122; PHYS 220. Fall, odd years.

301L ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM LABORATORY - 1 hour
Laboratory to accompany PHYS 301.

310 MODERN PHYSICS - 3 hours
For students with an introductory physics background who wish to extend their knowledge of atomic, nuclear and solid state physics. Emphasis on the basic phenomena and fundamental physics principles involved in special relativity and quantum mechanics and their subsequent application to atomic, nuclear and solid state models. Prerequisite: PHYS 220. Fall, odd years.

310L MODERN PHYSICS LABORATORY - 1 hour
Laboratory to accompany PHYS 310.

315 INTRODUCTION TO ASTROPHYSICS - 3 hours

A study of stellar and galactic astronomy and cosmology with an emphasis on the physical processes that are observable. Topics will include the birth, structure and death of stars, black-holes, components of spiral galaxies like our Milky Way and the basic structure of the universe. Prerequisite: PHYS 220.

320 ANALYTICAL MECHANICS (W) - 3 hours
Applications of vector methods to statics, kinematics and dynamics of a particle; use of momentum and energy methods; oscillating systems; and central force fields. Prerequisites: ENG 111; MATH 122; PHYS 220. Fall, even years.

320L MECHANICS LABORATORY - 1 hour
Laboratory to accompany PHYS 320.

340 THERMAL PHYSICS - 3 hours
Theories and applications of thermodynamics, kinetic theory, statistical physics and properties of matter, including temperature, entropy, diffusion, thermal conductivity, thermal radiation and thermionic emission of electrons. Prerequisites: MATH 122; PHYS 220. Fall, even years.

345L ADVANCED PHYSICS LABORATORY -2 HOURS
A study of the major results of physics through laboratory experience. Each lab will involve two to four lab periods to allow a detailed understanding of each piece of equipment along with a sophisticated analysis of the errors. Prerequisite: PHYS 220.

410 QUANTUM PHYSICS - 3 hours
Physical and mathematical aspects of the quantum theory; solutions of the Schroedinger wave equation, including approximation methods; and applications to atomic, molecular and nuclear structure. Prerequisites: MATH 122; PHYS 310. Spring, even years.

425 FIELD AND WAVE PHENOMENA - 3 hours
A study of the theory of waves as applied to electromagnetic, mechanical, and sound phenomena, with particular emphasis on light. Topics will include interference, diffraction, waves in dispersive media, energy, polarization, and radiation. Prerequisite: MATH 122; PHYS 301.

432 MATERIALS PHYSICS - 3 hours
An introduction to the physics of solids and surfaces. Topics will include crystal structure, energy band theory, electrical and optical properties of metals and semiconductors, solid state devices, and surface physics. Prerequisite: MATH 122; PHYS 310 or PHYS 340 or CHEM 341.

499 RESEARCH - 1-4 hours
Independent research under the supervision of a faculty member or other designee. May be used to fulfill the Senior Comprehensive Evaluation research requirement. Prerequisite: PHYS 220, MATH 122.

380 or 480 SPECIAL PROBLEMS - 1-4 hours
A student who has demonstrated ability to work independently may propose a course and pursue it with a qualified and willing professor. The department chair and the vice president and dean for academic affairs also must approve. A set of guidelines is available at the Office of the Registrar.

385 or 485 SEMINAR - 1-4 hours
An in-depth consideration of a significant scholarly problem or issue. Students pursue a supervised, independent inquiry on an aspect of the topic and exchange results through reports and discussions.


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