Physics Department

Physics Department Courses

Courses for non-physics majors

The Department offers a number of courses for those students who would like to know more about the physical world but do not wish to pursue a physics major. These are introductory courses and do not have any pre-requisites.

  • PHYS 100: Introductory Topics in Physics (NS)
  • PHYS 135: Robotics Explorations Studio (NS-L)
  • PHYS 160: Astronomy (NS)
  • PHYS 170: Introductory Earth Science (NS)
  • PHYS 171: Introductory Earth Science (w/lab) (NS-L)

Physics core

PHYS 100 Introductory Topics in Physics (NS)

This course is designed to introduce students to the tools of physics. The instructor selects a topic which allows students to analyze phenomena, model their behavior, and solve problems. Specific content varies by topic, but all sections repeat core concepts. Only one section may be counted for course credit. Example topics: Alternative Energy, Physics in Movies and Television, and the Physics of Superheroes.

PHYS 135 Robotics Exploration Studio (NS-L)

Cross-listed as CSCI 135.

PHYS 160 Astronomy (NS)

A study of the structure and evolution of the universe. Topics include how astronomers observe and interpret phenomena, models of the solar system, life cycle of stars, and current models of the universe.

PHYS 161 Astronomy with Lab (NS-L)

A study of the structure and evolution of the universe. Topics include how astronomers observe and interpret phenomena, models of the solar system, life cycle of stars, and current models of the universe. The lab component covers optics, spectroscopy, telescope design, and basic observing techniques.

PHYS 170 Introductory Earth Science (NS)

A study of earth science including topics such as tectonics, interior structure of the Earth, rocks and rock cycles, oceanography, meteorology, and Earth-Sun interactions. The physical principles associated with earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, hurricanes, and tornadoes are explored.

PHYS 171 Introductory Earth Science with Lab (NS-L)

A study of earth science including topics such as tectonics, interior structure of the Earth, rocks and rock cycles, oceanography, meteorology, and Earth-Sun Interactions. The physical principles associated with earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, hurricanes, and tornadoes are explored. The laboratory component covers the detection techniques and analysis of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, hurricanes, and tornadoes.

PHYS GP1 General Physics I Lab

Lab exercises focus on laboratory techniques and topics from the General Physics I classes, including kinematics, forces, conservation of energy and momentum, and waves. Required laboratory experience for students taking PHYS 210 or PHYS 230. No credit.

PHYS GP2 General Physics II Lab

Lab exercises focus on laboratory techniques and topics from the General Physics II classes, including electric charge, Coulomb force, circuits, magnetic fields, and optics. Required laboratory experience for students taking PHYS 220 or PHYS 240. No credit.

PHYS 210 General Physics I (NS-L , QS)

Mechanics, heat, and sound. Laboratory course. Calculus not required. Prerequisite: MATH 120 or above. Corequisite: PHYS GP1.

PHYS 211 General Physics I (no lab) (NS, QS)

Mechanics, heat, and sound. Calculus not required. Basic algebra and trigonometry skills are required. Prerequisite: MATH 120 or above and consent of instructor or department chair.

PHYS 220 General Physics II (NS-L , QS)

Electricity, magnetism, and optics. Laboratory course. Prerequisite: PHYS 210. Corequisite: PHYS GP2.

PHYS 230 General Physics I (Calculus-based) (NS-L , QS)

Mechanics, heat, and waves. Laboratory course. Corequisite: MATH 130 and PHYS GP1.

PHYS 240 General Physics II (Calculus-based) (NS-L , QS)

Electricity, magnetism, and optics. Laboratory course. Prerequisites: PHYS 210 or 230, and MATH 130. Corequisite: MATH 140 or consent and PHYS GP2.

PHYS 305 Vibrations and Waves (NS, QS)

Mechanical and electromagnetic waves. Fourier analysis and vector calculus. Prerequisite: PHYS 240. Corequisite: MATH 260.

PHYS 315 Modern Physics (NS-L, QS, W2)

Phenomenological basis of atomic and subatomic physics. Laboratory course. Cross-listed as CHEM 410 Advanced Physical Chemistry. Prerequisite: PHYS 240 or PHYS 220. Corequisite: MATH 260.

PHYS 320 Electrodynamics

Electrostatics, electromagnetic fields, currents, and Maxwell’s equations. Prerequisite: PHYS 305.

PHYS 330 Quantum Mechanics

Mathematical formalism of quantum theory. The Schrodinger equation and operator algebra. Bound state solutions and angular momentum. Prerequisite: PHYS 305 and either PHYS 315 or CHEM 310.

PHYS 340 Electronics

Analog circuits, digital circuits, and semiconductor devices. Prerequisite: PHYS 240 or PHYS 220 plus consent of instructor.

PHYS 370 Thermal Physics

The laws of thermodynamics, classical and quantum distribution functions, and an introduction to statistical mechanics. Prerequisite: MATH 140 and PHYS 240 or PHYS 220.

PHYS 380 Classical Mechanics

Central force problem, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalisms. Prerequisite: PHYS 305.

PHYS 450 Directed Research [UR]

Independent research in physics conducted in conjunction with a specific faculty member. Research topics selected on an individual basis. Results of the research are typically presented at a national scientific meeting in the spring, and a final research report is written.

PHYS 490 Topics in Physics

Topics determined by student and faculty interest. Possible topics include nuclear/particle physics, condensed matter, lasers and optics, statistical physics, mathematical methods. Prerequisite: PHYS 305 and consent.