Course Offerings | Physics

Division of Science and Mathematics

Philip Lockett (chair), William Crummett, Andre Wehner, Marshall Wilt; students: Eva Bookjans, Darren Hudson



Centre’s Physics Program serves students who are preparing themselves for graduate studies in this or a related field, who are following our dual-degree engineering option, who desire a strong quantitative and analytical background for a variety of vocational choices, and/or who are interested in knowing more about the wonder of the physical universe. Some students also select physics as a supporting major or minor for another science or mathematics. Physics has prepared our graduates for careers in science, engineering, medicine, and industry.

The Physics Program enhances students’ capacity for analysis, synthesis, and inductive and deductive reasoning. Physics students learn to plan and conduct scientific experiments and to communicate the concepts of physics in oral, written, and mathematical form.

Our physics curriculum provides study in all subfields central to the undergraduate degree: mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermal physics, optics, modern and quantum physics, digital electronics and computer interfacing, and experimental physics. In addition, many majors participate in collaborative research with a faculty member.


Requirements for the Major

CHE 131;
CSC 117;
MAT 160/161 or 170/171, 230, 360;
PHY 210, 220, 230, 310, 320, 330, 340, 350 and one additional PHY course numbered 300 or higher.

Note: Freshmen interested in taking physics courses and perhaps majoring in physics, chemistry, or chemical physics should consult a member of the Physics Program before beginning the fall term of their freshman year for proper placement in either PHY 110 or PHY 210. Other students registering for 100- or 200-level physics courses should do likewise.

It is strongly recommended that a student considering graduate study in physics take PHY 370, 380, and 399.

CHE 131, PHY 210 and 230, and MAT 360 should be completed by the end of the sophomore year if a student expects to complete the major in the normal four-year period.


Requirements for the Minor

CHE 131;
MAT 230, 360;
PHY 210, 220, 230, 310, and one additional approved course numbered 300 or higher.


Physics Courses

PHY 110 Introduction to Physics (four credit hours)
An introduction to college physics not requiring calculus. Topics discussed include mechanics, gravitation, planetary motion, electricity, the Bohr atom, and radioactivity. Laboratory work is required. Prerequisite: MAT 110 or basic skills in math. NOTE: Not open to students with credit for PHY 210 or higher.

PHY 170 Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics (four credit hours)
A study of the structure and evolution of the universe on different length scales. The course begins with a study of the solar system and works outward through our galaxy and finally to the universe as a whole. The course then examines how our ideas of this structure and evolution have changed through history and how they have undergone a revolution in the past few decades due to new windows that have been opened for our study of the universe. Laboratory and observational sessions are required. Prerequisite: none, high school physics recommended.

PHY 210 General Physics-I (four credit hours)
A calculus-based study of the mechanics of particles, rigid bodies, simple harmonic motion, wave motion, sound, and fluids. Laboratory work is required. Prerequisite: MAT 161 or 170 or permission of the instructor.

PHY 220 General Physics-II
A calculus-based study of thermal physics. Laboratory work is required. Prerequisite: PHY 210 and MAT 161 or 171, or permission of the instructor.

PHY 230 General Physics-III (four credit hours)
A calculus-based study of electricity, magnetism, and geometrical and physical optics. Laboratory work is required. Prerequisite: MAT 161 or 171, PHY 210, or permission of the instructor.

PHY 300 Introduction to Electronics and Computer Interfacing
A laboratory-based course that first introduces the basic principles of circuit analysis, semiconductor devices and operational amplifiers. Students are then introduced to digital electronics and how to interface computers with experiments to acquire and analyze data.
Prerequisite: PHY 230 or permission of the instructor.

PHY 310, 320 Modern Physics-I, II (four credit hours each)
A study of relativity, atomic and molecular structure, physics of the solid state, nuclear structure, quark theory, and associated phenomena. Laboratory work is required. Prerequisite: PHY 230, MAT 230 and 360, or permission of the instructor. PHY 310 is a prerequisite for PHY 320. (Also listed as CHP 310, 320.)

PHY 330 Mathematical Methods of Theoretical Physics
A study of mathematical methods used in theoretical subfields of physics such as classical and quantum mechanics, and electromagnetic theory. Topics include complex variables and functions, vector differential operators, Stokes’ and Divergence theorems, Fourier series, integral transforms, partial differential equations, special functions, complete sets of orthonormal functions, matrices, and the eigenvalue problem. Prerequisite: MAT 360, PHY 230, or permission of the instructor.

PHY 340 Advanced Mechanics
A study of particle dynamics, rigid-body motion, small oscillations, rotating coordinate systems, and an introduction to the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of mechanics. Co-requisite: PHY 330. Prerequisite: PHY 230 or permission of the instructor. (Offered alternate years.)

PHY 350 Advanced Electricity and Magnetism
A treatment of topics in this area using more advanced mathematics than in PHY 230, with emphasis on the fields produced by static charges and steady currents. Topics include electric fields and dielectrics, magnetic fields and magnetic materials, scalar and vector potentials, Maxwell’s equations, and electromagnetic waves. Co-requisite: PHY 330. Prerequisite: PHY 230 or permission of the instructor. (Offered alternate years.)

PHY 370 Thermal Physics
A presentation of the fundamental principles of thermodynamics, kinetic theory, and statistical mechanics including equations of state, laws of thermodynamics, entropy, kinetic theory of an ideal gas, transport phenomena, and Boltzmann and quantum statistics. Prerequisite: PHY 220, MAT 230, or permission of the instructor. (Offered alternate years.)

PHY 380 Optics
The study of optics of the electromagnetic spectrum including advances made possible by the laser. Topics include the electromagnetic spectrum, complex representation of phasors, Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction, circular apertures, dispersion theory, gratings, optical instruments, polarization, double refraction, lasers and laser spectroscopy. Prerequisite: PHY 330, or permission of the instructor. (Offered alternate years.)

PHY 399 Introductory Quantum Mechanics
A study of the concepts and ideas of quantum theory with applications to physical and chemical structures. Emphasis is placed on the experimental foundations of quantum theory and on the postulatory development of principles. Topics include one-dimensional systems, barriers and wells, the harmonic oscillator, ladder operators, angular momentum, and the one-electron atom. Prerequisite: PHY 330 or permission of the instructor. (Also listed as CHP 399.)