Academics Banner

Course Descriptions
Article Index
Course Descriptions
Introductory & Gen. Ed.
2000 level courses
3000 level courses
All Pages

The Physics Department offers general education courses for non-scientists, introductory courses for physics majors and non-majors, and a selection of advanced courses for physics majors and minors.  Not all courses are offered in all years; please check Webadvisor for details of the current semester.


 

Introductory & Gen. Ed. 

College Physics I and II (PHY 1001 & 1002). 4 credits each.  This is a year-long, two-course sequence that is designed to be a general physics introduction for students in chemistry, life sciences, or pre-health programs, as well as any students interested in understanding the physical world through mathematical laws while developing analytic reasoning and quantitative analysis skills.   The course does not use calculus, but requires familiarity with basic algebra and trigonometry.  There is a laboratory component in both semesters. 
Topics in the first semester include: kinematics, dynamics, Newton's Laws, circular motion, work and energy, linear momentum, rotational kinematics, simple harmonic motion, temperature and heat, waves and sound, and interference.  In the second semester (College Physics II), topics include:  electric forces and fields, electric potential, direct-current circuits, magnetic forces and fields, magnetic induction, electromagnetism, electromagnetic waves and light, geometrical and wave optics, and selected topics in modern physics (e.g. special relativity, atomic physics, or quantum physics).  These courses are offered every academic year and during summer session, but must be taken in sequence. 

University Physics I and II (PHY 1003 & 1004). 4 credits each. This is a year-long, two-course general physics sequence. It is designed to be an introductory survey for students intending to continue in the natural sciences and engineering, and to build skill in analytic reasoning and quantitative analysis as well as understanding of physics.  It is required for physics majors and minors.  The course uses calculus throughout; students who have not previously studied calculus must be enrolled in Calculus I during the first semester and in Calculus II during the second.  
In the first semester, topics include: kinematics in one, two and three dimensions, Newton's Laws and their applications, work and energy, system of particles and conservation of linear momentum, rotational kinematics and dynamics, angular momentum, oscillations, wave motion, superposition, heat and temperature, and thermodynamics.  Topics in the second semester (Physics II) include:   electrostatics, electric current and direct-current circuits, electrical conduction, magnetic field, magnetic induction, Maxwell's Equations and electromagnetic waves, geometrical optics, wave optics, and an introduction to modern physics that includes fundamental ideas in quantum mechanics and relativity.  These courses are offered every academic year, but must be taken in sequence.  Co-requisite for University Physics I:  Calculus I or equivalent.  Co-requisite for University Physics II:  Calculus II or equivalent. 

Introduction to Sustainable Energy (PHY 2045) 3 credits. This course is designed to provide non-science students with a qualitative and quantitative understanding of energy and its sustainability. This one semester course will focus on the basic principles of  energy conservation, heat transfer, energy resources, energy conversion efficiencies, energy use patterns, economic and environmental considerations, future energy alternatives, biomass conversion. The real life examples such as  house insulation, air conditioners, solar heating, oil spills, air pollution, global warming, effects and uses of radiation will  be studied. This course can be used to satisfy the College distribution requirement in science and Scientific Reasoning competency. Offered most semesters.

The Universe (PHY 1012).  3 credits.  A survey, designed for non-science students, of astronomy - our planet, our solar system, stars, galaxies, and the universe as a whole.  The course will cover the history and dynamics of the solar system; the structure, formation, and life cycle of stars, and the physical processes within them; the clustering of stars in galaxies and beyond; and a look at the origins and possible fates of the universe itself.  Students will be introduced to the fundamental laws of physics in an astronomical context, as well as the types of observation and deduction used by astronomers to construct theories.  Some high-school algebra required.  This course can be used to satisfy the College distribution requirement in science and Scientific Reasoning competency, but does not fulfill any physics requirements for science majors or medical school admission.  Offered most semesters.

Sound and Music (PHY 1016). 3 credits. This course is an introduction for non-scientists to the physical principles governing musical sound: how it is produced, transmitted and stored, and perceived by listeners. Topics covered will include the physics of vibration and its application to different types of instruments; sound quality and the harmonic series; basics of the science of hearing;  music recording and reproduction; and the propagation of sound waves. Some musical background may be helpful but is not required.  Basic mathematics (high-school algebra); can be used to satisfy the College distribution requirements in science and Scientific Reasoning competency, but does not fulfill any physics requirements for science majors or medical school admission.  Offered every spring. 

From Galileo to Einstein (PHY 1024).  3 credits.  This course is a historical survey for non-science majors of fundamental concepts in physics, concentrating especially on the contributions made by major figures such as Galileo, Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein, and Bohr.  The course emphasizes the logical and philosophical foundations of important discoveries and theories as well as their content and applications.  It also considers the nature of scientific theories in general and how they become accepted. Topics may include the laws of motion; momentum, energy, and heat; gravity and the solar system; electromagnetism; relativity; quantum mechanics. High-school algebra required; can be used to satisfy the College distribution requirements in science, but does not fulfill any physics requirements for science majors or medical school admission.  May be offered in the fall.

How Things Work (PHY 1030). 3 credits.  A look at the physics behind everyday life, at a level suited for non-science students.  We examine common household objects and machines (for example, bicycles, air conditioners, and microwave ovens) to discover how they operate, their history, and their relation to one another.  Underlying physical principles discussed in the course include mechanics and motion, fluid flow, heat, electricity, magnetism, light, and nuclear energy. Basic mathematics (high-school algebra); can be used to satisfy the College distribution requirement in science, but does not fulfill any physics requirements for science majors or medical school admission.  May be offered fall or spring.


 

2000 level courses

Note:  ALL 2000-level courses have University Physics I & II and Calculus I & II (or equivalent background) as prerequisites.

Mechanics (PHY 2010).  4 credits.   This course presents a rigorous treatment of classical mechanics at a level beyond the general physics survey.  Topics include: Newtonian mechanics, oscillations and resonance, conservative forces and potential energy, central forces, non-inertial frames of references, rigid body motion; an introduction to Lagrange's formulation of mechanics, coupled oscillators, normal modes, special relativity, and relativistic kinematics. 

Electromagnetism (PHY 2021). 4 credits. This course presents a rigorous treatment of classical electromagnetism at the level beyond the general physics survey.  Topics include: Electrostatics and magnetostatics, Laplace's equation and boundary-value problems, electro-magnetic waves, multipole expansions, dielectric and magnetic materials, Faraday's Law, AC circuits, Maxwell's equations, Lorentz covariance, special relativity.   

Quantum Physics (PHY 2030). 4 credits. This introduction to quantum physics includes the following topics: the basic principles of the quantum theory, the time-independent and time-dependent Schrodinger equations, eigenvalue equations, the theory of measurement, uncertainty principle, energy levels in potential wells, reflection and transmission by potential barriers, the harmonic oscillator, the hydrogen atom, and other applications to atomic, molecular, and nuclear physics. 

Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics (PHY 2040).  4 credits. This course covers the formal treatment of thermodynamics and statistical physics beyond the introductory level in the general physics survey.  Topics include: Thermodynamics, kinetic theory, methods of statistical mechanics, energy and entropy, Boltzmann, Fermi, and Bose distributions, ideal and real gases, blackbody radiation, chemical equilibrium, phase transition, ferromagnetism.  Note:  Quantum Physics is a prerequisite for this course and must be taken first.

Experimental Physics (PHY 2028).  3 credits. This is a laboratory course that concentrates on hands-on experimental measurements, data analysis methods, and report writing skills.  Normally 6 experiments in various aspects of modern physics (e.g. atomic, nuclear, or particle physics) are completed during a semester.  Student lab groups work independently, but have regular meetings with the instructor.


 

3000 level courses

Note: These courses are offered on an irregular schedule, depending on demand and on the needs of current students. 

Advanced Mechanics (PHY 3010). 4 credits.  This course offers an advanced formal treatment of classical mechanics, building on Mechanics (PHY2010).  Topics include: Calculus of variations, Hamilton's Principle, Lagrangian formulation of mechanics, Hamilton's formulation of mechanics, rigid body, coupled oscillations and normal modes, canonical transformations, Hamilton-Jacobi theory.  Prerequisites: Calculus III, Differential Equations, and Mechanics.

Quantum Mechanics (PHY 3020).  4 credits. This course provides a formal treatment of non-relativistic quantum mechanics following PHY 2030 Quantum Physics.  Topics include: the formulation of quantum mechanics in terms of state vectors and linear operators, three-dimensional spherically symmetric potentials, the theory of angular momentum and spin, time-independent and time dependent perturbation theory, scattering theory and identical particles.  Prerequisites: Calculus III, Differential Equations, Mechanics, and Quantum Physics.

Electrodynamics (PHY 3030). 4 credits.  This course offers a rigorous treatment of classical electrodynamics following PHY 2021 Electromagnetism.  Topics include: Electrostatics; magnetostatics, quasi-stationary phenomena, and Maxwell's equation; Special mathematical methods for problems in electrostatics; Electromagnetic waves and boundary value problems; Potentials and gauge transformations; Radiation from charge and current distributions, including multipole expansion of the field, and the field of moving charges.  Prerequisites: Calculus III, Differential Equations, Mechanics, and Electromagnetism.

Mathematical Methods of Physics (PHY 3040).  4 credits.  This course covers the necessary mathematics for treatment of advanced physics topics.  Topics may include: complex analysis, partial differential equations, integral equations, Green's functions, special functions, boundary problems, Fourier and other transforms, group theory and representations.  Emphasis is placed on applications to physical problems.  Prerequisites: Calculus III, Differential equations.

Solid-State Physics (PHY 3050).  4 credits. This course is a rigorous introduction to solid-state physics.  Topics include: crystal structures, properties of periodic lattice, electrons in metals, band structure, transport properties, semi-conductors, magnetism, and superconductivity.  Prerequisites: Electromagnetism, Quantum Physics, & Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics.

Statistical Mechanics (PHY 3060). 4 credits. This course provides a rigorous treatment of both classical and quantum statistical mechanics following PHY 2040 Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics.  Topics include: Fundamentals of statistical mechanics; theory of ensembles; quantum statistics; imperfect gases; cooperative phenomena.  Prerequisites: Electromagnetism, Quantum Physics, & Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics.

Research Internship (PHY 3080). 3 credits.  Students may choose to take any intermship in physics for credit using this course designation.  Doing an internship, particularly recommended during the junior-senior summer, provides opportunities for students to engage in actual research at universities, institutes, or other laboratory facilities.  This supplements the academic-year theoretical courses and gives enhanced experimental training, while helping students make career decisions.  Prerequisites: Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Quantum Physics, & Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics, or by approval by the Department.

Senior Research Project and Seminar (PHY 3090). 3 credits. This course is the capstone experience for physics majors. It includes advanced readings in a selected field of physics or an extended experimental investigation of a particular topic, under the supervision of a faculty member, and leads to a significant final paper.   Prerequisite: Written permission of the faculty member who agrees to act as supervisor and the permission of the department.