Physics Course Descriptions

100 Level Courses
PHYS 160: Exploration/Discovery in Physics. 3 hours.

This course allows students majoring in a non-science field to learn about the processes of the chemical sciences, including how science works, its limitations, and how science and society influence each other. Physics topics are variable but will be problem-based, communication intensive and engage students with focused topics in science to show how science and society interact. This course does not apply to any major or minor in the natural sciences.

200 Level Courses
PHYS 200: Environmental Geoscience. 4 hours.

A study of the interrelationship between humans and the physical environment. The course will focus on natural resources, soils, hydrology and water supplies, erosional processes, karst landscapes, land?use planning, and geologic map interpretation. Includes laboratory. Field work required.

PHYS 201: Principles of Physics. 4 hours.

Prerequisite:  MATH 211
The principles of mechanics, heat, sound and electricity are presented in this one-semester, non-calculus course. The workshop format- integrated lecture with laboratory-emphasizes experiment, data collection, analysis and group work. Not intended for biology, chemistry or physics majors. Offered fall semester.

PHYS 202: Principles of Physics II. 4 hours.

Prerequisite: PHYS 201
The principles of electrical and magnetic properties of matter, fields and forces, DC circuits, and optics (time permitting). A non- calculus course. The workshop format - integrated lecture with laboratory - emphasizes experiment, data collection and analysis, problem solving, and cooperative learning. Not intended for pre-med, chemistry, or physics majors. Offered spring semester.

PHYS 210: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing. 3 hours.

This course will provide students with a working knowledge of geographic data, data input, data models, spatial analysis, output and the uses of graphic information systems (GIS) in socio?economic and environmental studies. The course utilizes ArGIS software. Course fee required.

PHYS 211: General Physics I. 5 hours.

Co-requisite:  MATH 231. 
The principles of Newtonian mechanics including motion, energy, and force. Calculus with extensive use of vector analysis. Intended for science majors. The modeling-centered, inquiry-based workshop format integrated laboratory and lecture emphasizes experiment, data collection and analysis, problem solving, and cooperative learning in both small and large groups. Three two-hour sessions per week. Offered fall semester.

PHYS 212: General Physics II. 5 hours.

Prerequisite:  PHYS 211. 
Continuation of Newtonian mechanics, including working, 2-d motion, impulse-momentum, and circular motion. Also electrical and magnetic properties of matter, fields and forces, and DC circuits. Calculus with extensive use of vector analysis. Intended for science majors. The modeling-centered, inquiry-based workshop format integrated laboratory and lecture emphasizes experiment, data collection and analysis, problem solving, and cooperative learning in both small and large groups. Three two-hour sessions per week. Offered spring semester.

PHYS 213: Magnetism, Waves and Optics. 3 hours.

Prerequisite: PHYS 212. 
Principles of magnetic and electromagnetic interactions; wave phenomena, including interference; and an introduction to geometrical optics including shadow, mirrors, and lenses. The modeling-centered, inquiry-based workshop format integrated laboratory and lecture emphasizes experiment, data collection and analysis, problem solving, and cooperative learning in both small and large groups. Two two-hour sessions per week. Offered fall semester.

PHYS 215: Electronics. 3 hours.

Prerequisite:  PHYS 212. 
Design, construction and testing of the circuits underlying modern instrumentation, including both analog and digital electronics. Two lectures and one laboratory per week. Offered occasionally.

PHYS 221: Introduction to Mechanics. 3 hours.

Co-requisite: MATH 231 or MATH 236
A calculus-based introduction to Newton’s Laws of motion and their consequences in the world around us. Designed for science majors. Course designed to successfully cover numerous critically important topics in association with intense individual study of course material. Principles of measurement, error, one- and two- dimensional kinematics, vector mathematics, relative motion, uniform circular motion, inertial and non- inertial reference frames, static and kinetic friction, free-body diagrams, kinetic, potential, and mechanical energy. Introduction to the Standard Model of particle physics and Special Relativity.

PHYS 221L: Introduction to Mechanics Laboratory. 1 hour.

Co-requisite: PHYS 221
A laboratory course associated with topics of PHYS 221. Laboratory data acquisition and error analysis, study of motion using digital sonic motion detectors and cell phone videos. Extensive application of calculus concepts to digitally acquired data.

PHYS 222: Introduction to Electricity & Magnetism. 3 hours.

Prerequisite: PHYS 221

Calculus-based introduction to principles of linear and angular momentum, rotational dynamics, gravitation, planetary motion, radioactive decay, electric and magnetic fields, oscillations, waves, resonance, electromagnetic spectrum, optics, electric circuits, rudimentary thermodynamics. Designed for science majors. Course designed to successfully cover numerous critically important topics in association with intense individual study of course material.

PHYS 222L: Intro to Electric & Magnet Lab. 1 hour.

Co-requisite: PHYS 222
A laboratory course associated with topics of PHYS 222. Continued study of motion, thermodynamics, and acoustics using sonic motion detectors, digital thermometers, microphones and other sensors. Spectral analysis of sound. Basic optics and electrical circuits.

PHYS 290, 390, 490: Selected Topics. 1-3 hours.

Selected Topics are courses of an experimental nature that provide students a wide variety of study opportunities and experiences. Selected Topics offer both the department and the students the opportunity to explore areas of special interest in a structured classroom setting. Selected Topics courses (course numbers 290, 390, 490) will have variable titles and vary in credit from 1-3 semester hours. Selected Topic courses may not be taken as a Directed Study offering.

300 Level Courses
PHYS 309: Modern Physics. 4 hours.

Prerequisite:  PHYS 213 or PHYS 222

Extensive exploration of models of light, fundamental particles, and how they interact, starting with Newton and continuing through to Bohr. The modeling-centered, inquiry-based workshop format integrated laboratory and lecture emphasizes experiment, data collection and analysis, problem solving, and cooperative learning in both small and large groups. Three two-hour sessions per week. Offered spring semester.

PHYS 320: Biophysics. 3 hours.

Prerequisites: PHYS 212CHEM 238
Improves and develops understanding of physics concepts, and applies them to molecular and cellular biological systems. Concepts and principles from thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and electricity will be applied to systems such as bacteria, cell membranes, vascular networks, and biological molecules (RNA, DNA, and proteins including enzymes). For biology and biochemistry students who seek to learn more about the application of physics concepts and principles in biological systems, as well as for physics students interested in thinking more about cells and biological molecules.

PHYS 324: Computational Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. 3 hours.

Prerequisite: MATH 232PHYS 212CHEM 336BIOL 172
For all science students interested in using physico-chemical principles and computational studies to model physical interactions of biological molecules, using classical mechanics, statistical mechanics, electricity, and chemistry. Uses simple programs that draw upon existing sophisticated computational approaches from industry and academia to study molecular interactions and obtain fundamental insights in drug-discovery and drug-design, small molecule binding to proteins, and carcinogen binding to DNA and RNA. No prior experience with computer programming is required.

PHYS 350: Intermediate Mechanics. 3 hours.

Prerequisite:  PHYS 212. Co-requisite: MATH 233
Particle and rigid body dynamics, moving coordinate systems, rotating bodies, variational principles, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian approaches, small oscillations, planetary orbits, Kepler’s Laws of planetary motion. Offered spring semester.

PHYS 361: Mathematical Methods for Physics. 3 hours.

Prerequisite: MATH 232PHYS 212.
This course extends students’ physical understanding through the incorporation of advanced mathematical methods. Topics include numerical integration and Gaussian quadrature; special functions, including the Gamma function and applications to quantum mechanics, elliptical functions and the pendulum, and the error function: applications of linear algebra and the eigenvalue problem to classical coupled systems and quantum mechanics; orthogonal functions and solution methods for differential equations. Offered occasionally.

PHYS 391, 392, 491, 492: Research. 1-12 hours.

Many academic departments offer special research or investigative projects beyond the regular catalog offering. Significant responsibility lies with the student to work independently to develop a proposal for study that must be approved by a faculty mentor and the appropriate department chair. The faculty member will provide counsel through the study and will evaluate the student’s performance. Sophomores, juniors and seniors are eligible. Students must register for research (291, 292, 391, 392, 491 or 492) to receive credit and are required to fill out a Permission to Register for Special Coursework form. It is recommended that students complete not more than 12 hours of research to apply toward the baccalaureate degree.

PHYS 397, 398, 497, 498: Internship. Varies hours.

Interns must have at least 60 credit hours, completed appropriate coursework and have a minimum GPA of 2.5 prior to registering for academic credit. Also, approval must be obtained from the student's faculty sponsor and required forms must be completed by the deadline. Note: *Architecture, Music Therapy and Education majors do not register internships through Career Planning & Development. These students need to speak with his/her advisor regarding credit requirements and options.

400 Level Courses
PHYS 401: Mechanics II. 3 hours.

Prerequisite:  PHYS 350MATH 233MATH 366. 
Particle and rigid body dynamics, moving coordinate systems, rotating bodies, variational principles, Lagrange and Hamilton’s formalism, small oscillations, planetary orbits, Kepler’s Laws of planetary motion. Offered fall semester. This course has been approved as an Honors qualified course.

PHYS 411: Electricity and Magnetism I. 3 hours.

Prerequisite:  MATH 233PHYS 213. 
Principles and applications of static and moving charges, magnetism, electromagnetic theory and Maxwell’s equations. Offered fall semester.

PHYS 412: Electricity and Magnetism II. 3 hours.

Prerequisite:  PHYS 411MATH 366. 
Principles and applications of static and moving charges, magnetism, electromagnetic theory and Maxwell’s equations. Offered spring semester. This course has been approved as an Honors qualified course.

PHYS 420: Computational Physics. 3 hours.

Prerequisite: MATH 366PHYS 400PHYS 411 and CSCI 251. 
With the increase in computing power and development of algorithms, computational methods are routinely used to solve physics problems where analytical solutions do not exist. This course employs such methods to problems from classical mechanics, electromagnetism and statistical mechanics, including projectile motion, planetary dynamics, oscillatory motion and chaos, electrostatics, magnetostatics, waves, random systems, and phase transitions.

PHYS 430: Space Environmental Dynamics. 3 hours.

Prerequisites: MATH 233, MATH 366, PHYS 350.
An introduction to the motion of objects in space, including planets, moons, asteroids, comets, planetary rings, and man-made objects. Topics include: definition and use of orbital elements and their rates of change, determination of orbits from observations, rotational dynamics of the earth, moon, and natural and artificial satellites, control and emplacement of spacecraft into earth orbit and interplanetary trajectories. Laplace perturbation equations, precession of rotation axes and other orbital elements. Quaternions and their use in rotational dynamics, resonance phenomena involving rotational and orbital states, tidal heating, orbit-orbit and spin-orbit resonances. This course fulfills the requirements for Advanced Mechanics.

PHYS 442: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics. 3 hours.

Prerequisite:  PHYS 309MATH 233MATH 366. 

A study of the principles of quantum mechanics and applications, operators, differential equations of quantum mechanics, particle in a box, harmonic oscillator, one-electron atoms, barrier potentials, tunneling. Offered spring semester. This course has been approved as an Honors qualified course.

PHYS 493: Senior Seminar. 3 hours.

A capstone experience for students majoring in Physics.