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 Home < Academics < Undergraduate < Division III < Physics




Programs offered:

B.S. in Physics
Minor in Physics (TU)

Please consult the University Bulletin for degree requirements.

The physics curriculum is designed to provide well-rounded preparation in classical and modern physics. The successful completion of this program will prepare the graduate to gain admission to one of the better graduate programs in physics or a related scientific field, or to secure employment in a technical, scientific, or engineering setting.

All introductory-level science (biology, chemistry, physics) lecture courses have mathematics prerequisites, and some also have mathematics co-requisites. Some of these introductory-level science courses are required for the Physics program. Further, several Physics courses beyond the introductory level have additional mathematics prerequisites. While the aforementioned mathematics prerequisites can be satisfied in a variety of ways, the most efficient way for most students is to start by taking the mathematics placement examination no later than the start of a student’s first semester at Oglethorpe. The mathematics placement exam will diagnose if a student has sufficient mathematical acuity to exempt any of the mathematics prerequisites and, if not, will also diagnose an action plan for preparing the student to satisfy prerequisites in the shortest possible time. Please consult the university bulletin Sec. 5.4.1. and Sec. 5.4.2. for additional information. Students who satisfy the relevant mathematics proficiency prerequisites their first semester at Oglethorpe are urged to register for the appropriate physics courses (and any affiliated mathematics co-requisites) right away. Students needing additional math preparation must acquire the needed expertise in time to begin the required mathematics and physics courses in their sophomore year.

Students interested in pursuing careers in scientific illustration with a physical science emphasis should immediately familiarize themselves with Sec. of this Bulletin, and should seek the specialized advising that is therein encouraged.

The following are possible courses offered in Physics:

PHY 101, PHY 102. General Physics I, II 4 plus 4 hours
An introductory course without calculus. Fundamental aspects of mechanics, heat, light, sound, and electricity are included. The text will be on the level of Serway and Faughn, College Physics. Three lectures and three hours of laboratory per week. Prerequisite: MAT 103; PHY 101 must precede PHY 102. Corequisites: PHY 101L and PHY 102L.
PHY 201, PHY 202. College Physics I, II 5 plus 5 hours
Introductory physics with calculus. Subject matter is the same as in general physics but on a level more suited to physics majors, engineering majors, etc. One year of calculus as a prerequisite is preferred, otherwise calculus must be taken concurrently. The text will be on the level of Halliday, Resnick, and Walker, Fundamentals of Physics. Prerequisite: PHY 201 with a grade of "C-" or higher must precede PHY 202. Corequisites: PHY 101L and PHY 102L.
PHY 101L, PHY 102L. Introductory Physics Laboratory I, II 1 plus 1 hour
Introductory physics laboratories to accompany PHY 101, 102, 201 and 202.
PHY 211, PHY 212. Classical Mechanics I, II 4 plus 4 hours
This is the student’s first introduction to theoretical physics. Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods are developed with Newton’s laws of motion and applied to a variety of contemporary problems. Emphasis is placed on problem work, the object being to develop physical intuition and facility for translating physical problems into mathematical terms. The text will be on the level of Analytical Mechanics by Fowles. Prerequisites: MAT 132 and PHY 202 with a grade of "C-" or higher in each course. A grade of "C-" or higher must be earned in PHY 211 before taking PHY 212.
PHY 232. Fundamentals of Electronics 4 hours
This course is designed primarily for science majors and dual degree engineering students. Coverage includes DC and AC circuits, semi-conductor devices, amplifiers, oscillators, and digital devices. The intent is to provide a working understanding of common instrumentation in science and technology. Prerequisite: PHY 102 or PHY 212 with a grade of "C-" or higher.
PHY 232L. Electronics Laboratory 1 hour
The laboratory component of PHY 232.
PHY 331, PHY 332. Electricity and Magnetism I, II 4 plus 4 hours
A thorough introduction to one of the two fundamental disciplines of classical physics, using vector calculus methods. After a brief review of vector analysis, the first semester will treat electrostatic and magnetic fields and provide an introduction to the special theory of relativity. The second semester will develop electrodynamics, including Maxwell’s equations, the propagation of electromagnetic waves, radiation, and the electromagnetic theory of light. The treatment will be on the level of the text of Reitz, Milford, and Christy. It is recommended that MAT 241 be taken concurrently. Prerequisites: MAT 233 and PHY 202 with a grade of "C-" or higher in each course; PHY 331 must precede PHY 332.
PHY 333. Thermal and Statistical Physics 4 hours
The purpose of this course is to provide physics, engineering, and chemistry majors with a fundamental understanding of heat and the equilibrium behavior of complex systems. Topics will include the zeroth, first and second laws of thermodynamics with applications to closed and open systems; microcanonical and canonical ensembles for classical and quantum systems, with applications to ideal gases, specific heats, blackbody radiation, etc.; the kinetic description of equilibrium properties. Text will be on the level of Kestin and Dorfman or Zemansky. Prerequisites: MAT 132 and PHY 202 with a grade of "C-" or higher in each course.
PHY 333L. Thermal and Statistical Physics Laboratory 1 hour
Laboratory work will emphasize classic experiments such as the ballistic pendulum, hard sphere scattering, the Millikan oil drop experiment, the Michelson interferometer, etc. Emphasis also will be placed on measuring fundamental constants such as the speed of light, h, G, e and e/m. Corequisite: PHY 333.
PHY 335. Introduction to Modern Optics 4 hours
A standard intermediate-level optics course which will treat the basics of wave theory and the electromagnetic origin of optical phenomena, geometrical optics, physical optics including Fourier optics, Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction, and dispersion. The course will conclude with some consideration of current topics such as holography, quantum optics, and non-linear optics. Text will be on the level of Jenkins and White or Hecht. Prerequisites: MAT 241 and PHY 202 with a grade of "C-" or higher in each course.
PHY 335L. Modern Optics Laboratory 1 hour
This laboratory accompanies course PHY 335.
PHY 421, PHY 422. Introduction to Modern Physics I, II 4 plus 4 hours
For physics, engineering, and chemistry majors, this is a one-year sequence that discusses the most important developments in 20th-century physics. The first semester will review special relativity and treat the foundations of quantum physics from a historical perspective; the quantum theory of one-electron atoms will be developed. In the second semester, there will be a treatment of many-electron atoms, molecules, and solids, with an introduction to nuclear and elementary particle physics. The text will be on the level of Eisberg and Resnick, Quantum Physics. Prerequisites: PHY 202 and PHY 332; PHY 421 must precede PHY 422.
PHY 421L, PHY 422L. Modern Physics Laboratory I, II 1 plus 1 hour
Laboratory work will emphasize modern physics in areas such as microwave optics, superconductivity, measurements of magnetic fields, electron spin resonance, the Franck-Hertz experiment, laser optics, etc. Corequisites: PHY 421and PHY 422.
PHY 423. Mathematical Physics 4 hours
This course will examine a variety of mathematical ideas and methods used in physical sciences. Topics may include: vector calculus; solutions of partial differential equations, including the wave and heat equations; special functions; eigenvalue problems; Fourier analysis and mathematical modeling, particularly numerical computer methods. Text will be on the level of Arfken or Matthews and Walker. Prerequisite: MAT 241 with a grade of "C-" or higher.
PHY 431. Special Topics in Theoretical Physics 1-5 hours
Topics to be chosen in accordance with the student’s interest include Laser Physics, Plasma Physics, Theory of the Solid State, Nuclear and Particle Physics, Astrophysics, and Cosmology.
PHY 441. Special Topics in Experimental Physics 1-5 hours
Topics to be chosen in accordance with the student's interest in experimental physics.
PHY 499. Independent Study in Physics 1-5 hours
Supervised study of a topic of interest to the student, which is not treated in the regularly scheduled course offerings. Prerequisite: Submission of a proposed outline of study that includes a schedule of meetings and assignments approved by the instructor, the division chair, and the Provost and Senior Vice President prior to registration.
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