Academics > Curriculum

Academic Requirements

Twelve courses are required to complete a physics major:

The requirements for elementary certification are:

  • Nine courses in physics, seven of which must be chosen from a group of advanced courses designed for the physics major
  • Differential and Intergral calculus I, II, and III
  • A course in computing
  • A senior comprehensive examination is also required for all physics majors.

The following five courses are the requirement for a minor in physics:

  • Modern Physics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Basic Physics I and II or General Physics I and II
  • An elective physics course

Courses of Instruction

PHYSICS

Affatigato, Cottingham, Feller (Chair).

The Physics Department serves a variety of students with a balanced program, giving equal emphasis to the needs of the technically and the non-technically oriented.

Physics Major

All majors are required to take the following core of courses:

  1. PHY-215 General Physics I -OR- PHY-115 Basic Physics I
  2. PHY-225 General Physics II -OR- PHY-135 Basic Physics II
  3. PHY-235 Modern Physics
  4. PHY-415 Electromagnetism
  5. Five additional physics courses, three of which must be numbered 300 or above.
  6. CS-125 Computer Science I
  7. MTH-255 Calculus III
  8. Comprehensive evaluation. Satisfactory completion of written and oral examinations during the junior or senior year.

A grade of “C” or higher must be received in all courses counted toward the physics major.

Normally, General Physics I and II, rather than Basic Physics I and II, should be taken by students who plan to major or minor in physics.

Most physics majors start their mathematics studies with Calculus I (MTH-135) in the fall of the first year, but the program may be completed by starting mathematics in the fall of the sophomore year.

Physics Minor

  1. PHY-215 General Physics I -OR- PHY-115 Basic Physics I
  2. PHY-225 General Physics II -OR- PHY-135 Basic Physics II
  3. PHY-235 Modern Physics
  4. PHY-415 Electromagnetism
  5. MTH-145 Calculus II
  6. One additional physics course approved by the department.

Elementary Education Emphasis in Physics

  1. PHY-215 General Physics I -OR- PHY-115 Basic Physics I
  2. PHY-225 General Physics II -OR- PHY-135 Basic Physics II
  3. PHY-145 Modern Astronomy
  4. One of the following:

    PHY-125 Electronics
    PHY-325 Digital Electronics

  5. Two additional physics courses

Interdisciplinary Major

Students considering the development of an interdisciplinary major with a strong physics emphasis should consult with members of the physics faculty.

Students interested in the General Science major should refer to General Science.

Courses in Physics

PHY-105 Physics: An Historical Approach
A course emphasizing important developments in physics from the time of Aristotle to the 20th century. Special attention is given to significant conceptual developments and major technological advances. Readings are selected from writings of some of the major figures in the history of physics, as well as modern commentators. The class experience includes reenactments of some historically significant experiments.

PHY-115 Basic Physics I
A non-calculus survey course in the basic principles of physics. One laboratory per week, held jointly with General Physics laboratories, forms a required part of this course. Students who plan to attend graduate school in one of the physical sciences or mathematics, or who have sufficient mathematical background, should take General Physics I rather than this course. This course satisfies the General Education laboratory science requirement. Prerequisite: Algebra and Trigonometry (MTH-115) or equivalent.

PHY-125 Electronics
For beginners. Basic ideas of current, voltage, resistance; Ohm's law and DC circuit analysis; the diode, the transistor amplifier, oscillators; integrated circuits. Much construction of circuits. Includes one two-hour lab weekly. This course satisfies the General Education laboratory science requirement. Prerequisite: competence in algebra.

PHY-135 Basic Physics II
A continuation of Basic Physics I.

PHY-145 Modern Astronomy
An introduction to the objects and phenomena found in the universe, including the solar system, planets, moons, comets, meteors, the sun, stars, birth and death of stars, neutron stars, pulsars, black holes, galaxies, quasars, and cosmological evolution. Some outdoor viewing using unaided eye, binoculars, and small telescopes. Prerequisite: competence in algebra.

PHY-175 Musical Acoustics
An exploration of the physical principles involved in the production, propagation, and perception of musical sounds. Topics include simple vibrating systems, properties of waves, and Fourier analysis. The primary emphasis is on musical instruments, including the voice, but some consideration is also given to room acoustics and human perception of sound. Prerequisite: previous musical experience is helpful, but not necessary.

PHY-195 Holography and Optics
The making and understanding of holograms are used as the focus for a basic physics course in waves and optics. Includes one two-hour lab per week. This course satisfies the General Education laboratory science requirement.

PHY-215 General Physics I
Chiefly an introduction to mechanics to serve as a basis for advanced courses in physics. Both rigorous application of analysis and development of intuitive insight are stressed. Laboratory activities required. This course satisfies the General Education laboratory science requirement. Prerequisite: previous or concurrent enrollment in Calculus I (MTH-135). (Offered Fall Term)

PHY-225 General Physics II
Chiefly an introduction to the physics of electromagnetic phenomena: charges, currents, circuits, oscillations, types of magnetism, waves, and interference. Laboratory activities required. This course satisfies the General Education laboratory sciencerequirement. Prerequisites: Calculus I (MTH-135) and General Physics I (PHY-215) or consent of instructor. (Offered Spring Term)

PHY-235 Modern Physics
Introductory study of the phenomena, techniques, and models of modern physics including quantum phenomena, special relativity physics, and their interpretive models. Laboratory activities required. Prerequisites: Calculus II (MTH-145) and General Physics II (PHY-225) or consent of instructor.

PHY-315 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
An introduction to fundamental concepts such as temperature, phase transitions, the First, Second, and Third Laws of thermodynamics, and the work/ entropy relationship. The Statistical Mechanics half will cover a mathematical treatment of partition functions, thermal properties of solids, and criticalpoint transitions. Prerequisites: General Physics II (PHY-225) and Calculus III (MTH-255) or consent of instructor.

PHY-325 Digital Electronics
Integrated circuit devices and their applications: the basic logic gates, counters, displays, flip-flops, multiplexers, memories. Some acquaintance with DC circuit concepts and with the binary number system desirable. Includes one two-hour lab weekly. This course satisfies the General Education laboratory science requirement.

PHY-335 Quantum Mechanics
An introduction to the formal treatment of quantum mechanics. This course covers the Schrodinger wave equation, the Dirac Bra-ket notation, operator formalism, spin and angular momentum, the wave equation in one and three dimensions, and perturbation theory. Prerequisites: Modern Physics (PHY-235) and Calculus III (MTH-255) or consent of instructor.

PHY-345 Solid State Physics
Study of the structure and properties of crystalline and amorphous solids. The main topics include crystal structure and quantized vibrations (phonons); electronic band structure and its relation to electrical, thermal, and optical behavior; semiconductors and superconductors. Prerequisites: Modern Physics (PHY-235) and Calculus III (MTH-255) or consent of instructor.

PHY-415 Electromagnetism
Electromagnetic phenomena at the intermediate level, including circuits, static and quasi-static fields, Maxwell's equations, radiation, and selected topics in properties of materials. Special topics in vector algebra, scalar and vector point functions, and differential vector calculus are developed and used. Prerequisites: General Physics II (PHY-225) and Calculus II (MTH-145) or consent of instructor.

PHY-465 Mechanics Formulations
The Newtonian, Lagrangian, and Hamiltonian formulations of the laws of motion. Applications to systems of particles, extended objects, and oscillatory systems. Prerequisites: General Physics II (PHY-225) and Calculus II (MTH-145) or consent of instructor.

PHY-515 Optics
A treatment of the theory of modern optics, introducing a variety of topics, including geometrical and physical optics, matrix methods, polarization, interference, diffraction, cavity radiation, optical spectra, and a strong emphasis on laser physics. A brief introduction to nonlinear optics is also a component of this course. Prerequisites: Electromagnetism (PHY-415) and Calculus III (MTH-255) or consent of instructor.

PHY-535, -545 Advanced Laboratory I and II
Extensive independent or group investigations of a particular topic or set of topics. Designed to be a research experience in preparation for teaching, graduate school, or direct entry into a technical field after graduation. Advanced Laboratory I (PHY-535) may be repeated as Advanced Laboratory II (PHY-545). Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

PHY-560 Material Physics and Chemistry Laboratory
Using state-of-the-art research-grade equipment, students perform a host of structure/property measurements on a wide variety of materials. The materials that are studied include glasses, polymers, metals, semiconductors, and superconductors. Students learn the theory and operating principles for each instrument. Prerequisite: Electromagnetism (PHY-415) or Physical Chemistry (CHM-415) or consent of instructor. (0.2 course credit)

PHY-565 Material Physics and Chemistry
Study of the structure and properties of a wide variety of modern materials, including glasses, polymers, metals, semiconductors, and superconductors. Using fundamental ideas from physics and chemistry, considerable attention is focused on the atomic structures and phase diagrams of these materials. Mechanical, thermal, optical, magnetic, and electrical properties are reviewed and compared with structure. Prerequisite: Electromagnetism (PHY-415) or Physical Chemistry (CHM-415) or consent of instructor.

PHY-705,-715 Junior-Senior Seminar I and II
Presentations and discussions of advanced topics unavailable through the regular catalog offerings, and appropriate to students enrolled. Prerequisite: Electromagnetism (PHY-415) and consent of instructor.

PHY-725 Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences
Study of areas of mathematics which are of fundamental importance in the physical sciences. Topics include complex variables, Fourier analysis, eigenvalue problems, and vector calculus. Includes one computer laboratory session per week. Prerequisite: Linear Algebra (MTH-265) or consent of instructor.

PHY-8_5 Independent Study
Independent study of topics under the guidance of the department: experimental or pedagogical research on a problem predefined by the student in consultation with the department. Prerequisites: demonstrated initiative and self-discipline, four courses in physics, and consent of department.

PHY-895 Part-Time Internship
Investigation of an area of interest through field placement supervised by a faculty member of the department. A minimum of 140 hours on-site experience is required. S/U basis only. This course does not satisfy any of the requirements for a major in Physics. Prerequisites: completion of a Physics minor or junior standing and consent of department.

OR-715,-725 Study and Research at Oak Ridge Laboratory
Prerequisites: General Physics I (PHY-215), General Physics II (PHY-225), Modern Physics (PHY-235), Advanced Laboratory I (PHY-535) or Independent Study (PHY-8_5) and acceptance to program. (For descriptions see page 167.)