» Course Offerings

Course Offerings


One unit of credit equals four semester hours.

AST 212 Introduction to Astronomy
A general introductory laboratory science course for non-science and science majors. An understanding, appreciation and working knowledge of astronomy and its technological, environmental and social impact in the past, present and future. Understanding of the scientific method is developed through laboratory and field investigations with some evening observing time required.

PHY 101 Physical Science
For the non-science major, a non-mathematical introduction to the facts, methods and philosophy of the physical sciences. Provides insight into the modern technological world. Material is drawn from physics, astronomy and chemistry with extensive use of videotapes, films and field trips. Laboratory expands upon ideas developed in class. Spring Term.

PHY 107 Physical Science Concepts for K-8 Teachers
This course is designed to strengthen a student’s understanding of physical science concepts and the nature of scientific inquiry. To gain these understandings, students will collaboratively conduct a number of scientific inquiries to answer strong driving questions co-conducted with the course professor and other students. The perspective and knowledge gained from these inquiries will aid students as they examine their own physical science misconceptions and construct new understandings. Cross-listed with CHM 107. Includes laboratory.

PHY 111 Introductory Physics I
A broad quantitative background in basic physics appropriate for students in biology, geography, pre–physical therapy, speech pathology and nursing. Mechanics of particles, rigid bodies and fluids; the concepts of energy and momentum; and heat and thermodynamics with related laboratory work. Prerequisites: background in algebra and trigonometry at the level of MTH 121 and MTH 132. Fall Term, Summer Term.

PHY 112 Introductory Physics II
A continuation of PHY 111. Electricity, magnetism, light, optics and elementary modern physics with related laboratory experiments. Prerequisite: PHY 111. Spring Term, Summer Term.

PHY 121 General Physics I
A thorough quantitative understanding of basic physics for students in science, mathematics, computer science, physics or engineering programs. Vectors, kinematics, laws of mechanics, force, energy, momentum and fluids with related laboratory experiments. Corequisite: MTH 151. Fall Term, Summer Term.

PHY 122 General Physics II
A continuation of PHY 121. Waves, oscillations, heat and thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, light and optics, with related laboratory experiments. Prerequisite: PHY 121. Corequisite: MTH 152. Spring Term, Summer Term.

PHY 212 Introduction to Astronomy
See AST 212.

PHY 251 Research Topics in Physics
Plays a special role in the physics department curriculum, providing a time when a student working on a major project—at the accelerator lab, at the observatory, at Argonne Laboratory, at Fermilab or elsewhere—has an opportunity to draw this work together with a full-time concentrated effort. (Limited to physics students who have previously been involved in research activities.) Any student planning to register for this course must confer with the instructor prior to registration. Repeatable for credit. January Term.

PHY 304 Intermediate Physics
Oscillations and waves, including sound and electromagnetic waves. Circuit analysis, including oscillating circuits. Special Theory of Relativity. Includes laboratory. Prerequisites: PHY 122, MTH 152.

PHY 305 Modern Physics of Atoms, Nuclei and Particles
Atomic, nuclear and particle physics. Atomic phenomena and structure, Bohr model of the atom, wave mechanical view of matter, radiation quanta, quantum mechanics of hydrogen and helium atoms, atomic masses and isotopes, strong and weak nuclear forces, radioactivity, fusion and fission reactions, basic scattering theory, particle accelerators, radiation detection, elementary particles, symmetries and conservation laws. Includes laboratory. Prerequisites: PHY 304, MTH 251.

PHY 311 Analytical Mechanics
Physical and analytical aspects of mechanics using vector calculus: dynamics of particles and systems, work, energy, momentum, constrained motion, moving coordinate systems and Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations. Includes laboratory. Prerequisites: PHY 121 and MTH 341. Fall Term.

PHY 312 Electricity and Magnetism
Development and application of electromagnetic field theory: electric and magnetic fields, scalar and vector potentials, dielectrics, magnetic materials and Maxwell’s equations. Includes laboratory. Prerequisites: PHY 122 and 311, MTH 341. Spring Term.

PHY 313 Thermodynamics
Nature of heat, thermal radiation, specific heats, gas laws; Maxwell-Boltzmann, Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac distributions; and classical thermodynamics. Includes laboratory. Prerequisites: PHY 122 and MTH 251. Fall Term.

PHY 414 Modern Optics
Geometrical and physical optics, polarization, coherence, interference, diffraction, Fourier optics and fundamental optical phenomena. Electromagnetic theory of light is stressed. Includes laboratory. Prerequisites: PHY 312 and MTH 341. Fall Term.

PHY 421 Quantum Mechanics
This course is a mathematically sophisticated introduction to quantum mechanics. Beginning with the historical development of quantum mechanics and a detailed study of the main experiments that led to the recognition of wave-particle duality, the course goes on to develop quantum mechanics using the modern mathematical formalism of quantum states as complex vectors in a Hilbert space. The course prepares students to understand modern developments in quantum mechanics such as atom cooling and trapping, and quantum computation. Includes laboratory. Prerequisites: PHY 305, MTH 341 (MTH 342 preferred).

PHY 440 Special Topics in Physics
.50 or 1.00 credit
Faculty and advanced physics students study a specific topic chosen for its particular experimental, theoretical, philosophical, technical or scientific interest. Repeatable for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

PHY 492/292 Independent Study
.50 or 1.00 credit
Enables science majors capable of independent work to pursue specialized or advanced topics by doing independent reading, assigned work or structured laboratory activities. Repeatable for credit. Permission of the supervising instructor required prior to registration.

PHY 494 Independent Research
.50 or 1.00 credit
Enables science majors capable of substantial independent work to plan and execute a physics research project for credit. Specific literature research and laboratory activities must be carried out. Repeatable for credit. Permission of the supervising instructor required prior to registration.

PHY 495 Honors Independent Research
.50 credit
This course gives Honors Program students the opportunity to design and implement a significant research project in the field of physics, culminating in an appropriate public dissemination of research methods and findings. This research must build upon previous coursework taken within the major or minor, facilitating faculty supervision and guidance. Repeatable for credit. Permission of the faculty supervisor and the director of the Honors Program required prior to registration.

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