Physics (PHYS)

Major Courses

PHYS A101 Introduction to Mechanics 4 crs.

This is a calculus-based introductory course in Newtonian mechanics intended for physical science and math majors.

Corequisites: PHYS A103, MATH A257

PHYS A102 Introduction to Electromagnetism and Relativity 4 crs.

This course is an introduction to the electricity and magnetism culminating in an elementary treatment of Maxwell’s equations. Einstein’s special relativity is also discussed.

Prerequisite: PHYS A101
Corequisites: PHYS A104, MATH A258

PHYS A103 Mechanics Lab 1 cr.

This is a laboratory course illustrating concepts and phenomena in mechanics. It is intended for students enrolled in Introduction to Mechanics (PHYS A101). Lab fee $50

Corequisite: PHYS A101

PHYS A104 Electricity and Magnetism Lab 1 cr.

This is a laboratory course illustrating concepts and phenomena in electricity and magnetism. It is intended for students enrolled in Introduction to EM and Relativity (PHYS A102). Lab fee: $50

Prerequisite: PHYS A103
Corequisite: PHYS A102

PHYS A112 Physics Lab I 

This is a laboratory course intended for pre-health and other students enrolled in Physics for Life Sciences (PHYS A115). In a two-semester sequence it covers phenomena in mechanics, thermal physics, electricity and magnetism and optics. Lab fee: $50

Corequisite: PHYS A115. Lab fee: $50

PHYS A113 Physics Lab II

This course is a continuation of PHYS A112. Lab fee: $50

Prerequisite: PHYS A112
Corequisite: PHYS A116

PHYS A115 Physics for Life Sciences I 3 crs.

The course discusses the principles of mechanics, heat, sound, light, magnetism, electricity, and fundamentals of atomic physics. In presenting these topics, the special interest of the biological sciences, pre-health, and the general education groups are kept in view.

Corequisite: PHYS A112

PHYS A116 Physics for Life Sciences II 3 crs.

This course is a continuation of PHYS A115.

Prerequisite: PHYS A115
Corequisite: PHYS A113

PHYS A195 Special Projects I 1 cr.

PHYS A240 Introduction to Waves and Quantum Physics 3 crs.

This is a sophomore-level course that describes wave physics and introduces basic concepts of quantum physics.

Prerequisites: PHYS A102, MATH A258 

PHYS A241 Introduction to Thermal Physics 3 crs.

This is a sophomore-level course that introduces the basic thermodynamic concepts of temperature, heat, and entropy. Classical thermodynamics as well as statistical mechanics are covered.

Prerequisites: PHYS A102, MATH A258

PHYS A295 Special Projects II credits vary 

PHYS A336 Environmental Physics 3 crs.

This course discusses physical foundations of environmental science. It revisits basic physics principles relevant to environmental science and then applies them to phenomena such as climate change, pollution, energy conversion etc.

Prerequisite: PHYS A241 or PHYS A116

PHYS A340 Classical Mechanics 4 crs.

This is a junior-level course that introduces methods of classical mechanics. It gives a rigorous treatment of Newtonian and Lagrangian formulations of classical mechanics, including numerous applications. It is a continuation and extension of the course (Introduction to Mechanics PHYS-A101).

Prerequisites: MATH A259, PHYS A240

PHYS A350 Electromagnetism 4 crs.

This course gives a rigorous treatment of laws of electromagnetism. It covers applications of Maxwell’s equations, including electromagnetic waves. It is a continuation and extension of the course (Introduction to Electromagnetism and Relativity PHYS-A102).

Prerequisites: PHYS A240, MATH A259

PHYS A395 Special Projects III credits vary

PHYS A425 Lasers and Modern Optics 3 crs.

This course examines the principles and practical aspects of laser operation and applications in modern optics; propagation of plane electromagnetic waves; diffraction and interference of light; gaussian beam propagation and optical resonators; theory of laser oscillation; gas, solid, semiconductor and dye lasers; detectors of optical radiation; nonlinear optics; applications in research and industry. Laboratory exercises include polarization, interference, Fourier optics, holography, gas, diode, and tunable lasers.

Prerequisite: PHYS A241

PHYS A430 General Relativity 3 crs.

Beginning with Special Relativity, students review Einstein's development of his general relativistic theory of gravity in terms of the differential geometry of spacetime.

Prerequisites: PHYS A240, MATH A259

PHYS A432 Solid State Physics 3 crs.

This course is an introduction to solid state physics.  Some of the areas covered are thermal properties, free electron theory of metals, band theory, semiconductors, superconductivity and magnetic properties. 

Prerequisite: PHYS A241

PHYS A436 Cellular Biophysics 3 crs.

This course is concerned with selected physiological phenomena occurring in biological cells, such as action potential in neurons. Although these are fundamentally biological phenomena, the analysis is inherently multidisciplinary, involving both physical and chemical principles. The course also introduces students to basic mathematical modeling of biophysical phenomena.

Prerequisite: PHYS A241 or PHYS A116

PHYS A438 Introduction to Astrophysics 3 crs.

This introduction to astrophysics is an elective course for the physics major sequences.  Topics include the physical principles of the tools of astronomy; the physics of stars and planetary systems; galaxies and cosmology. 

Prerequisites: PHYS A240, A241, MATH A259

PHYS A445 Advanced Laboratory Physics 3 crs.

This is an advanced laboratory course for physics majors with the objective of training students to be self-reliant in planning and performing experiments not ordinarily done at the elementary level. Experiments are performed in such areas as electronics, mechanics, atomic physics and spectroscopy and emphasis is placed on experimental error analysis.  Lab fee $50.

Prerequisites: PHYS A240, A241

PHYS A450 Quantum Mechanics 4 crs.

This course gives an introductory treatment of quantum mechanics. Starting with the experimental evidence, it introduces the Schroedinger and Heisenberg formulations of quantum theory, discusses basic properties of the Schroedinger equation and provides an elementary introduction to axiomatic structure of quantum mechanics.

Prerequisites: PHYS A240, MATH A259

PHYS A495 Special Projects IV credits vary

Prerequisite: PHYS A395

PHYS A496 Seminar/Workshop credits vary

A seminar is a supervised group of students sharing the results of their research on a common topic. A workshop is a supervised group of students participating in a common effort. 

PHYS A497 Internship/Practicum credits vary

An internship is supervised practical experience. A practicum is supervised practical application of previously studied theory. 

PHYS A498 Research Project credits vary

This project focuses on empirical or historical investigation, culminating in a written report. 

PHYS A499 Independent Study credits vary

PHYS H234 Honors Seminar 3 crs.

The Physics Department regularly offers special topics seminars in the University Honors Program.  Please see the UHP for current courses.

PHYS H498 Honors Thesis 3 crs.

Introductory Common Curriculum

SCIE T129 Investigating Nature 3 crs.

Introductory Common Curriculum: Natural Science

This team-taught interdisciplinary course examines how scientists learn about the natural world through the process of scientific discovery. Students learn critical thinking skills that scientists regularly engage in, and demonstrate this through classroom exercises and assignments. Students learn how methods such as mathematical modeling, observation, and field and laboratory experimentation are used to discover new information about a specific scientific topic. Topics covered by the professors may or may not be thematically linked.

This course replaces BIOL T122, CHEM T122, PHYS T122
 

Advanced Common Curriculum

PHYS Z130 Faith, Science, and Religion 3 crs.

Advanced Common Curriculum: Natural Science in Context
RAC: Catholic Traditions

This course critically analyzes various ways of knowing: faith, science, and theology (critical analysis of faith). The methods of the physical sciences and the life sciences are discussed. Topics include the epic of creation, evolution, and quantum theory. This course is cross-listed as RELS V330 and PHYS H234.

Prerequisite: SCIE T129
This course replaces PHYS Z130 

PHYS Z231 Physics of Sound 3 crs.

Advanced Common Curriculum: Natural Science in Context

This course explores the science underlying the phenomena of sound, with particular emphasis on topics related to musical sound. Students gain an understanding of basic physical and mathematical concepts relating to sound production, propagation and perception – as well as sound recording and sound reproduction.

Prerequsitie: SCIE T129
This course replaces PHYS Z131

PHYS Z234 Astronomy 3 crs.

Advanced Common Curriculum: Natural Science in Context

The purpose of this course is to place the participant in one of the cultural mainstreams of mankind’s past, present, and future by making available the rich mines of historical and practical astronomy, as well as modern space age discoveries and theories, in a comprehensive form.

Prerequisites: Any college-level math and SCIE T129
This course replaces PHYS Z134