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Undergraduate Physics Program

Physics Courses for Physics Majors

Introductory Sequence

PY 201-202-203: A traditional 3-semester sequence of introductory physics designed primarily for physics majors. These courses include a laboratory component and a 75-minute recitation section each week to help students develop advanced problem-solving skills and improve their understanding of basic physics.

Advanced Courses

PY 411-412 Mechanics

PY 414-415 Electricity and Magnetism

PY 401-402 Quantum Mechanics

PY 413 Thermodynamics

Laboratory Sequence

PY 252 Instrumentation and Data Analysis: Designed for second-year physics students, this course introduces students to the use of common laboratory equipment, data acquisition methods and data analysis.

PY 452 Advanced Physics Laboratory: Restricted to senior physics students. Students work on three major experiments of their choosing over the course of the semester and present their results in a formal research talk at the end of the course.


PY251 Introduction to Scientific Computing: An introductory course in scientific computing for the physical and mathematical sciences using python and other open-source tools. Using a problem-oriented approach, students will learn the basic computing skills needed to conduct scientific research and to prepare for upper-level courses in science and engineering. Topics will include algorithm development, numerical methods, elements of programming, data analysis, and data visualization. This is the recommended course for physics majors to fulfill the "Introduction to Programming" requirement.
Prerequisite: PY202 or PY208

PY301 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics: An introduction to wave mechanics and quantum phenomena including the Schroedinger equation for simple systems, the Hamiltonian operator, the use of commutator relations, and the application of angular momentum operators. Emphasis on mathematical tools used in wave mechanics, including complex numbers, function operators, eigenvalues and eigenvectors.
Prerequisite: PY203 or PY407

PY 328 Stellar and Galactic Astrophysics: Introduction to the study of stars, galaxies, and the universe. Stars and stellar evolution; interstellar medium; galaxies and galaxy clusters; cosmology. Recent developments in the understanding of neutron stars, black holes, active galaxies, quasars and inflationary cosmologies.
Prerequisite: PY 202 or 208

PY 341 Relativity, Gravitation and Cosmology: Introduction to relativity, gravitation and cosmology in accordance with Einstein's special and general theories of relativity. Flat spacetime: Minkowski metric, time dilation, length contraction, doppler effect, twin paradox and space travel. Curved spacetime: Schwarzschild metric, black holes and event horizons, particle and light motion, global positioning system, precession of planetary orbits. Cosmology: hubble law, expansion of the universe, Friedman-robertson-walker metric, big bang, cosmological redshift, dark matter and dark energy. 
Prerequisite: C- or better in PY 203 or 407

PY 499 Independant Study in Physics: Study and research in physics. Topics for experimental or theoretical investigation.

Many students also take 500 level physics electives their Junior or Senior year to satisfy elective requirements