Return to 2008-09 UGB Menu

Physics Courses (PHY)

GE Core denotes General Education Core credit;
GE Marker
denotes General Education Marker credit;
CAR denotes College Additional Requirement credit.

Courses for Undergraduates

101 Experimental Course: Methods, Skills, and Strategies for Physics (3:3)

Knowledge, skills, and strategies for surviving and excelling at physics and mathematics. Includes essential mathematics skills, key physics ideas, problem-solving strategies, critical-thinking practice, and academic success tips. (Offered fall '09)

205 Conceptual Physics (3:3)

GE Core: GNS


Registration in laboratory (PHY 205L) optional.

No student may receive credit for this course if credit has previously been earned for 211, 212, 291, or 292.

Introduction to basic laws of physics made by extensive use of demonstrations. Concepts emphasized and mathematical manipulations held to a minimum. (Fall & Spring)

205L Conceptual Physics Laboratory (1:0:3)

GE Core: GNS


Coreq. PHY 205

The discovery approach will be used to conduct experiments in mechanics, fluids, heat, electricity and magnetism, optics and modern physics. (Fall & Spring)

211, 212 General Physics I, II (4:3:3), (4:3:3)

GE Core: GNS


Pr. for PHY 211: MAT 151, or permission of instructor

Pr. for PHY 212: PHY 211

Note: Laboratory is included in 211, 212.

No student may receive credit for 211 or 212 if credit has previously been earned for 211A or 212A or 291 or 292.

Introduction of laws and properties of matter, sound, heat, optics, electricity, and magnetism. Algebra and trigonometry used in development of this material. (211—Spring; 212—Fall; Summer)

211A, 212A General Physics I, II (4:3:3), (4;3:3)

GE Core: GNS


Pr. for PHY 211A: MAT 119 or 150, or permission of instructor

Pr. for PHY 212A: PHY 211A

Note: Laboratory is included in 211A and 212A.

No student may receive credit for 211A or 212A if credit has previously been earned for 211/212 or 291/292.

A NSF funded version of PHY 211/212 featuring a laboratory-centered environment. See course description for PHY 211/212. Check with department for details. (211A—Fall; 212A—Spring)

291, 292 General Physics I, II with Calculus (4:3:3), (4:3:3)

GE Core: GNS


Pr. for PHY 291: grade of C or better in MAT 191, or permission of instructor

Pr. for PHY 292: grade of C or better in PHY 291, or permission of instructor

Note: Laboratory is included in 291 and 292.

No student may receive credit for this course if credit has previously been earned for 211A or 212A or 211 or 212.

Introduction to law and properties of mechanics, sound, heat, optics, electricity, magnetism, and modern physics using calculus. PHY 291 and 292 together constitute a one-year university physics course. (291—Spring; 292—Fall)

294 Introduction to Computational Physics Laboratory (1:0:3)

Pr. or coreq: PHY 292

Introduction to computational techniques used in physics and engineering. Use of software to solve problems in physics and astronomy, including simulation of interesting physical situations.

321 Introduction to Modern Physics (3:3)

Pr. 292 (or 211, 212 with permission of instructor)

Fundamental concepts of atomic, molecular, nuclear, and solid state physics from quantum-mechanical and special relativity points of view. Topics include special relativity, wave-particle dualism, Schrödinger equation, hydrogen atom, atomic spectra, nuclear structure, radioactivity, nuclear reactions, and molecular and solid state physics. (Spring)

321L Modern Physics Laboratory (1:0:3)

Pr. 292 (or 211, 212 with permission of instructor)

Performance of atomic, nuclear, and solid state physics experiments and analysis of data in a quantitative and scientific manner. Simple computer programs used to study the concepts of error and least-square-fit techniques. (Spring)

323 Mechanics (3:3)

Pr. 212 or 292

Pr. or coreq. MAT 390 and MAT 394

Mathematical treatment of classical kinematics and dynamics of a particle in a uniform field, in oscillatory motion and simple motions of systems of particles. Analytical and numerical techniques of problem solution stressed. (Fall)

323L Classical Physics Laboratory (1:0:3)

Pr. 292 (or 211, 212 with permission of instructor)

Performance of experiments emphasizing concepts of classical physics. Topics include force, energy, resonance, and relaxation. (Fall)

325 Electricity and Magnetism I (3:3)

Pr. 292 and MAT 394

A study, developing and using techniques of vector algebra and calculus, of topics in the theory of static electric and magnetic fields including the divergence and Stokes’ theorems and the law of Gauss, Biot-Savart, and Ampere. Application to the properties of conductors, dielectric, and magnetic materials. (Fall)

325L Electricity and Magnetism Laboratory (1:0:3)

Pr. MAT 390

Performance of electricity and magnetism and electronic experiments with analysis of these basic phenomena as applied to research laboratory. (Fall)

327 Thermal Physics (3:3)

Pr. 292 and MAT 394

Properties of matter developed by combining thermodynamic reasoning with molecular theory. (Alt Fall)

330 Astrophysics (3:3)

Pr. 291, 292

Stellar evolution through study of white dwarves and black holes; galaxy structure and cosmology. Observational project will use Three College Observatory. Intended as follow-up to introductory astronomy and physics. (Alt Spring) (Formerly PHY 530)

331, 332 Experimental Physics (1:0:3), (1:0:3)

Pr. two advanced courses in physics taken concurrently or completed

Advanced courses in laboratory techniques as involved in special laboratory problems.

333 Selected Topics (1–3)

Primarily intended for those who are not physical science majors. Topics vary with instructor and with semester. Contemporary topics may include subjects such as analysis of physical resources, their inherent energy limitations and new sources of energy (such as solar, geothermal, etc.); development and adaptation of nuclear energy to electric power plants and armaments systems and the ensuing environmental and political problems. No previous science course required. Interested students should inquire at Physics and Astronomy Department office for further details. Selected topics for science majors may also be given upon request.

345 20th-Century Physics: A Liberal Art (3:3)

Pr. junior, senior standing, or permission of instructor

20th-century developments in description of physical universe, including small (quantum mechanics), fast (Einstein’s relativity), energetic (nuclear). Emphasize understanding, societal impact, minimal mathematics.

395 Computational Physics Laboratory II (1:0:3)

Pr. MAT 390; grade of C or better in PHY 292

Advanced computational techniques for the physics laboratory. Solutions of differential and integral equations, data fitting, Monte Carlo techniques applied to physical situations. Nonlinear biophysical problems.

400 Seminar (1–3)

Selected topics of current interest in physics are studied. (Formerly PHY 500)

401 Physics Senior Seminar (1:1)

Pr. Physics major; senior standing

Required of all Physics majors.

Grade: Pass/Not Pass (P/NP)

Topics from current physics literature, and presentations by students, faculty and guest lecturers. Oral reports on research topics. Attendance at weekly seminars required. (Spring)

412 Electronics for Scientists (3:2:3)

Pr. 212 or 292, or permission of instructor

Electronic circuits useful for measurement, signal processing, and control. This course is especially designed to meet needs of experimental scientist. (Alt Spring) (Formerly PHY 512)

413 Microcomputer Interfacing for Scientists (3:2:3)

Pr. 212 or 292, or permission of instructor

Methods and techniques of electronic connection between computer and other devices and programming methods to facilitate use of the computer as a laboratory instrument are introduced. Assembly language used primarily. (Alt Spring) (Formerly PHY 513)

419 Advanced Laboratory (1–3:0:3–9)

Pr. 321L

Principles of design and execution of laboratory experiments are introduced, with emphasis on developing the capability to do independent experimentation. (Formerly PHY 519)

420 Selected Topics in Physics (3:3)

Pr. permission of instructor

May be repeated for a total of 6 hours credit.

A topic of special interest is studied in depth. (Formerly PHY 520)

421 Modern Physics with Quantum Mechanics (3:3)

Pr. 321 and 325

Modern theories of matter are studied by applying quantum mechanics to atomic, molecular, nuclear, and solid state systems. (Alt Spring) (Formerly PHY 521)

423 Analytical Mechanics (3:3)

Pr. 323, MAT 390

Classical laws of particle motion are extended to the treatment of general motion of a rigid body, noninertial reference frames, generalized coordinates, normal coordinates, and to topics and techniques based on calculus of variations. (Formerly PHY 523)

425 Optics (3:3)

Pr. 325 or permission of instructor

Analytical treatment of geometrical optics (thin and thick lenses, image formation, theory of optical instruments) and physical optics (electromagnetic waves, interference, polarization, diffraction, optical properties of materials). (Spring)

425L Optics Laboratory (1:0:3)

Pr. 321L, 325L, or permission of instructor

Performance of geometrical and physical optics experiments with both microwaves and visible light. (Spring)

426 Electricity and Magnetism II (3:3)

Pr. 325

Continuation of 325. The properties of time-varying electric and magnetic fields, including Faraday’s law, and the development of Maxwell’s equations are studied. Results are applied to alternating current circuit theory, electromagnetic waves, and radiation. (Spring) (Formerly PHY 525)

493 Honors Work (3–6)

Pr. permission of instructor; 3.30 GPA in the major, 12 s.h. in the major

May be repeated for credit if the topic of study changes.


495 Research Experience in Physics (3)

Pr. two courses from the major sequence beyond PHY 291292 or 211212, permission of instructor, and approval of department head

May be repeated for up to 6 hours of credit with departmental permission.

A significant research project directed by faculty member. Student must submit written proposal, develop approved written plan, and deliver formal report of results. (Fall & Spring & Summer)

496 Individual Study (1–3)

Pr. permission of instructor

The student and at least one member of the graduate faculty will develop a plan to study a topic of particular interest to the student. (Formerly PHY 595)

Courses for Advanced Undergraduates & Graduate Students

501, 502 Conceptual Physics for Teachers (3:3), (3:3)

The basic laws of physics are introduced by extensive use of demonstrations. Concepts are emphasized and mathematical manipulation is minimal. Teaching materials and strategies are developed.

543 Biophysics (3:3)

Pr. PHY 211/212 or 291/292; MAT 191; BIO 355; CHE 111/114; or permission of instructor

Introduction to cellular biophysics, with emphasis on the physical properties of membranes, including membrane transport mechanisms and electrical properties of membranes. (Alt Fall) (Same as BIO 543)

589 Experimental Course: Physical Science for Teachers (3:3)

Pr. one year of physics, one year of chemistry, one year of teaching experience

Physical science content knowledge, and methods that can be used to present this content in the classroom; for high school and middle school teachers. (Offered summer '07)

Please refer to The Graduate School Bulletin for additional graduate-level courses.