Courses & Requirements

Requirements for the Physics Major

Required Courses

PHY-131: Introduction to Computer Programming (4.00)

This introduction to computer science, developed by Google and their academic computer science partners, emphasizes problem solving and data analysis skills along with computer programming skills. Using Python, you will learn design, implementation, testing, and analysis of algorithms and programs. And within the context of programming, you will learn to formulate problems, think creatively about solutions, and express those solutions clearly and accurately. Problems will be chosen from real-world examples such as graphics, image processing, cryptography, data analysis, astronomy, video games, and environmental simulation. You'll get instruction from a World-class computer science professor, delivered remotely through video and interactive media. Then you will attend class for collaborative team projects to solve real-life problems, similar to those a team at Google might face. Prior programming experience is not a requirement for this course. Cross-listed with MAT-131.

PHY-202: Intro Physics I/Lab: Mechanics (4.00)

A calculus-based course with laboratory covering Newtonian mechanics, oscillations, and other classical physics topics. Credit cannot be received for both PHY-102 and 202. 3 LEC, 1 LAB.

Course requisites: Prereq MAT-118; Pre- or coreq MAT-119 Corequisite MAT-119

PHY-203: Intro Phys II/Lab: Electricity and Magnetism (4.00)

A calculus-based course with laboratory covering Newtonian mechanics, oscillations, and other classical physics topics. Credit cannot be received for both PHY-102 and PHY 202. 3 LEC, 1 LAB.

Course requisites: PHY-202 (grade C- or higher) and MAT-119

PHY-210: Modern Physics (4.00)

One-semester introduction to the fundamentals of modern physics with integrated modern physics laboratory. Students perform simulations and experiments important to the development of modern physics and are introduced to modern experimental techniques. Topics include: relativity, atomic physics, wave phenomena, quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, and particle physics. Course provides a broad base of understanding of modern physics for use in upper-level physics and astronomy courses.

Course requisites: PHY-203 w/ grade C- or higher Req'd pre- or corequisite MAT-220

PHY-240: Practical Electronics/Lab (4.00)

Electronic devices are all around us, but what is inside and how do they work? This course will build on a basic physics understanding of charge, current, and voltage; covering DC components, frequency response, semiconductors, op-amps, digital signals, and microprocessors. Students will design, build, and measure circuits, utilizing computer simulation and calculations to predict circuit behaviors. The class culminates in designing and building an Arduino-based project to solve a real-world problem. 3 LEC, 1 LAB.

Course requisites: PHY-103 or 203 or permission of instructor

MAT-220: Multivariable Calculus (4.00)

MULTIVARIABLE CALCULUS--The geometry of curves and surfaces and the calculus of functions of two or more variables, including partial differentiation, multiple integrals, and vector analysis.

Course requisites: 119 with a minimum grade of C-

Math/Research Requirement

Students must complete at least one other math course (excluding MAT-101, 104, 117, 118, or 119) and 4 credits of 400-level physics work.  This could include research, internships, independent study, PHY-401 or PHY-420.

PHY-401: Problem-Solving in Physics (1.00)

An additional course for students seeking greater depth in physics problem-solving. Students will identify specific areas of physics for development or enrichment and will work together to solve a variety of physics problems. May be repeated for credit.

Course requisites: PHY-210

PHY-420: Advanced Seminar in Physics (2.00)

A capstone experience for astrophysics and physics majors. Topics will include use of online and other research resources, research methods and the ethics of scientific research. Students in the class will report regularly on their research experiences, or if they are not actively engaged in a research project with a faculty member on recent advances as reported in the scientific literature. Cross-listed with AST-400.

Course requisites: Req'd corequisite PHY-400

Additional Courses

Students must complete at least five courses from the lists below, where at least one must come from the "Advanced" category and at least two must come from the "Core" category.

Core

PHY-321: Classical Mechanics (4.00)

Newton's system for describing and predicting motion, the formulations of Lagrange and Hamilton, central forces, oscillations, chaos, rigid bodies, accelerated reference frames, relativity, continua, and waves.

Course requisites: PHY-203 (or taken under old # PHY-111)

PHY-331: Thermal Physics (4.00)

Equilibrium thermodynamics, statistical methods, quantum methods in thermal physics, discussion of thermal phenomena such as phase transitions, superconductivity, superfluidity, magnetism and applications in chemistry, engineering, and astrophysics.

Course requisites: PHY-203 (or taken under old # PHY-111)

PHY-341: Electromagnetism (4.00)

Maxwell's equations applied to static and to dynamic situations, production and propagation of electromagnetic radiation.

Course requisites: PHY-111 or 203 (# change from 111 to 203 in 2015) Pre- or co-requisite MAT-220

Applied

AST-300: Astrophysics I: Radiation (4.00)

The application of physics to the study of astronomical radiation. Topics include multiwavelength astronomical telescopes and instruments, stellar and planetary radiation transfer, stellar evolution, the interstellar medium, the intergalactic medium, magnetic fields and cosmology.

Course requisites: Physics 203

AST-301: Astrophysics II: Dynamics (4.00)

The application of physics to the study of astronomical structures and motions. Topics include dynamics from planetary to galactic scales, distance determination, galaxy evolution, mass distributions, large-scale structure and cosmology.

Course requisites: PHY-203 (or as taken under old # PHY-111)

PHY-231: How to Think Like a Data Scientist (4.00)

This course introduces students to the importance of gathering, cleaning, normalizing, visualizing, and analyzing data to drive informed decision-making, no matter the field of study. Students will learn to use a combination of tools and techniques, including spreadsheets, SQL, and Python to work on real world datasets using a combination of procedural and basic machine learning algorithms. They will also learn to ask good, exploratory questions and develop metrics to come up with a well thought-out analysis. Presenting and discussing an analysis of datasets chosen by the students will be an important part of the course. Like PHY/MAT-131, this course will be "flipped," with content learned outside of class and classroom time focused on hands-on, collaborative projects. Cross-listed with MAT-231.

Course requisites: PHY/MAT-131 (or permission)

CHE-360: Physical Chemistry II (4.00)

An advanced course that builds on concepts learned in the foundational physical chemistry courses (CHE-220 and CHE-260). Topics covered will include quantum mechanics, spectroscopy and materials science.

Advanced

PHY-311: Laboratory Physics (4.00)

Students perform experiments important to the development of modern physics. They are introduced to modern experimental techniques, including keeping a formal lab notebook, computer-aided data acquisition, electronic instruments, and data and error analysis.

Course requisites: PHY-210

PHY-361: Quantum Physics (4.00)

Spin and matrix mechanics. Dirac notation. Schroedinger's equation applied to one-dimensional situations and then to atomic, nuclear and molecular phenomena. Systems of identical particles.

Course requisites: PHY-210

Other Physics Courses

PHY-102: Elements of Physics I/Lab (4.00)

Quantitative discussion of physical phenomena. Knowledge of algebra and trigonometry is required. This course does not count toward a major or minor in physics or astrophysics. Students planning to major or minor in physics or astrophysics should take Physics 202-203. Physics 102/Lab satisfies the lab science distribution requirement. Credit cannot be received for both PHY-102 and PHY-202. 3 LEC, 1 LAB.

PHY-103: Elements of Physics II/Lab (4.00)

ELEMENTS OF PHYSICS II/LAB--Continuation of Physics 102/Lab. Credit cannot be received for both PHY 103 and PHY 203. 3 LEC, 1 LAB.

Course requisites: Prerequisite PHY-102

PHY-150: Waves Arnd the World: Global Mus & Physi (4.00)

WAVES AROUND THE WORLD: GLOBAL MUSIC AND PHYSICS--This course provides answers to many musical questions using physics: "Why does a zurnah sound different from a ney? Or a french horn from a bugle?" "Why does every culture recognize the interval of the octave?" We will cover both music topics like pitch, instrumentation, intensity, and quality; and physics topics like standing waves, interference and frequency analysis. Students will work in teams to pursue measurements relating physics and music during class time, a model that fully integrates lecture and lab. Examples of music and instruments will be pulled from around the world, highlighting the cultural-specific aspects of music from the physics fundamentals. Students will present a final project consisting of a self-designed investigation of a musical phenomenon. Students may petition to have this course count as a 200-level elective in music.

PHY-160: Geology of Earth & Terrestrial Planets (4.00)

An introduction to geology, including the study of common minerals, rocks and fossils. Discussion of the modification of the Earth's surface by geological processes such as volcanism, tectonism, gradation (gravity, wind, water and ice) and impact catering. Consideration of geology of other terrestrial planets and moons. 3 LEC, 1 LAB.

PHY-205: Intro to Math for Physicists/Engineers (2.00)

This course introduces mathematical topics that are necessary tools in the study of physics and related disciplines. Students will practice employing these tools, such as complex numbers, differential equations, and linear algebra, within the context of specific physical phenomena.

Course requisites: MAT-119 (grade C- or higher) and PHY-202

PHY-339: Applied Machine Learning Intensive (9.00)

This course provides students with the fundamentals of machine learning (ML) in a ten-week intensive summer session. Students will develop their programming skills in Python and SQL in Physics and Astronomy 2020-2021 Agnes Scott Academic Catalog 203 Return to Table of Contents order to apply machine learning tools and models to problem solving across a range of academic disciplines (for example, physics, economics, sociology, math) and practical applications based on real-world examples. Topics covered include: data investigation, cleaning, transformation, analysis, and visualization; modeling techniques like classification, regression, and clustering; and critical ethical implications of machine learning, including artificial intelligence bias and machine learning fairness. Students will be immersed in project-based teams dedicated to exploring and solving data problems and will present some of their collaborative research at the end of the summer session. Cross-listed with MAT-339.

Course requisites: Prereqs: MAT/PHY-131 and 231.

PHY-371: Introduction to General Relativity (4.00)

An overview and introduction to general relativity, including flat spacetime (special relativity), tensors, the calculus of curvature, and the Einstein equation. Other topics may include neutron stars, black holes, the early universe, evolution of the universe, and Cosmic Microwave Background.

Course requisites: PHY-210 and MAT-220 must be taken previously.

Requirements for the Physics Minor

Required Courses

PHY-131: Introduction to Computer Programming (4.00)

This introduction to computer science, developed by Google and their academic computer science partners, emphasizes problem solving and data analysis skills along with computer programming skills. Using Python, you will learn design, implementation, testing, and analysis of algorithms and programs. And within the context of programming, you will learn to formulate problems, think creatively about solutions, and express those solutions clearly and accurately. Problems will be chosen from real-world examples such as graphics, image processing, cryptography, data analysis, astronomy, video games, and environmental simulation. You'll get instruction from a World-class computer science professor, delivered remotely through video and interactive media. Then you will attend class for collaborative team projects to solve real-life problems, similar to those a team at Google might face. Prior programming experience is not a requirement for this course. Cross-listed with MAT-131.

PHY-202: Intro Physics I/Lab: Mechanics (4.00)

A calculus-based course with laboratory covering Newtonian mechanics, oscillations, and other classical physics topics. Credit cannot be received for both PHY-102 and 202. 3 LEC, 1 LAB.

Course requisites: Prereq MAT-118; Pre- or coreq MAT-119 Corequisite MAT-119

PHY-203: Intro Phys II/Lab: Electricity and Magnetism (4.00)

A calculus-based course with laboratory covering Newtonian mechanics, oscillations, and other classical physics topics. Credit cannot be received for both PHY-102 and PHY 202. 3 LEC, 1 LAB.

Course requisites: PHY-202 (grade C- or higher) and MAT-119

PHY-210: Modern Physics (4.00)

One-semester introduction to the fundamentals of modern physics with integrated modern physics laboratory. Students perform simulations and experiments important to the development of modern physics and are introduced to modern experimental techniques. Topics include: relativity, atomic physics, wave phenomena, quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, and particle physics. Course provides a broad base of understanding of modern physics for use in upper-level physics and astronomy courses.

Course requisites: PHY-203 w/ grade C- or higher Req'd pre- or corequisite MAT-220

Additional Courses

Two additional physics courses as approved by the department.

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