Physics
The paradigm below is one example of how you can begin your studies in this major. Consult your advisor on plans of study to complete the major. Students may use their elective credits to explore other majors or to enroll in skillbuilding courses in mathematics, reading, writing and/or study skills. With planning, students may use these credits to complete a minor, enroll in a practicum or internship, or study abroad.
Calculusready Students






NonCalculusready Students (Begin major coursework in year 2)






The example laid out above is one of many ways to complete the first year in this program; there are a number of options that students may exercise to tailor this major to their strengths and interests. Students wishing to enter this program should strenuously attempt to prepare themselves to place into (at least) M 151 Calculus I in their first semester, and to place into E 220. Students should be aware that almost all upper division physics courses are offered in alternate years, and should plan accordingly and consult early and often with a physics department advisor. Students may use their elective credits to explore a second major, complete a minor, or enroll in a practicum, internship, or skillbuilding courses. It is the responsibility of the student to complete all major and university requirements. Students interested in this major should consult with the Physics Department chair as early as possible and refer to the university catalog for additional information regarding the program.
The major paradigm offered above is the optimal pathway to completion of the major. However, several factors affect a student's ability to follow this specific pathway, including timing of a student's decision to major, course availability, course demand, course scheduling conflicts, and faculty availability. Therefore, a student may not follow this optimal pathway to completion of the major. A student may use the paradigm as a resource and preparation guide, but a student's academic advisor is the best resource for planning course schedules.
▪Students enrolled in the Lasallian Honors Program should consult the program director for the appropriate sequence of courses.
(From the 1315 Catalog)
A. Physics Core
All of the following courses:
(Either M148 & M149 or M151)
C131  General Chemistry I (3 credits)
This course covers the fundamental principles upon which the study of chemistry is based. Stoichiometry, atomic structure, molecular structure, chemical bonding, behavior of gases, kinetic molecular theory, properties of solutions, chemical reactivity and thermochemistry are included. Three hours of lecture per week.
Offered fall semester. Prerequisites: M151 placement, or M149, or minimum grade of C in M148 with concurrent enrollment in M149; concurrent with C133. Students who complete C131/C133 may not enroll in C110.
C133  General Chemistry I Laboratory (1 credit)
This laboratory is an inquirybased approach to understanding the process of doing chemistry. Each week, as a team member with a specific role working for a consulting company, the student receives a letter from a ﾓchemical clientﾔ requesting the solution to a chemical problem. It is the responsibility of the team to design a solution, collect data, and report the results to the client in report form.
Offered fall semester. Prerequisite: concurrent with C131
C142  General Chemistry II (3 credits)
This course includes the study of the chemistry of redox reactions, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium theory, electrochemistry, chemical dynamics, organic chemistry, phase behavior and solution chemistry. Three hours of lecture per week.
Offered spring semester. Prerequisites: minimum grade of C in C131/133 and concurrent with C144.
C144  General Chemistry II Laboratory (1 credit)
This laboratory is an inquirybased approach to understanding the process of doing chemistry. Each week, as a team member with a specific role working for a consulting company, the student receives a letter from a ﾓchemical clientﾔ requesting the solution to a chemical problem. It is the responsibility of the team to design a solution, collect data, and report the results to the client in report form.
Offered spring semester. Prerequisites: minimum grade of C in C131/133 and concurrent with C142.
M148  Calculus with Precalculus I (4 credits)
This course, followed by M149, provides a twosemester sequence that covers the material of a traditional Calculus I course along with builtin coverage of precalculus topics. Topics in M148 include: solving equations, functions, classes of functions (polynomial, rational, algebraic, exponential, logarithmic), right triangle trigonometry, angle measure, limits and continuity, derivatives, rules for derivatives. Credit is not granted for this course and M151 or courses equivalent to college algebra and college trigonometry.
Prerequisite: mathematics competency satisfied.
M149  Calculus with Precalculus II (4 credits)
This course completes the twosemester sequence that begins with M148, and together with M148 provides a twosemester sequence that covers the material of a traditional Calculus I course along with builtin coverage of precalculus topics. Topics in M149 include: trigonometric and inverse trigonometric functions, rules for derivatives, applications of derivatives, and definite and indefinite integrals. Credit is not granted for this course and M151.
Prerequisite: M148.
This course provides an introduction to the differential and integral calculus. Topics include: the concepts of function, limit, continuity, derivative, definite and indefinite integrals, and an introduction to transcendental functions. Credit is not granted for this course and M148 and M149.
Prerequisites: departmental placement or courses equivalent to college algebra and college trigonometry.
M152  Calculus II (4 credits)
This course is a continuation of M151. Some of the topics of M151 are revisited at a higher mathematical level. Topics include: applications of the definite integral, techniques of integration, improper integrals, introduction to differential equations, numerical methods for integration and approximation, curves in the plane given parametrically, polar coordinates, and vectors in 2space and 3space.
Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in either M149 or M151 or departmental placement.
M251  Calculus III (4 credits)
This course continues the development of Calculus from M151 and M152. Topics include: sequences and series, and differentiation and integration of vectorvalued functions and functions of several variables.
Offered fall semester. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in M152.
P201  Introductory Physics I (3 credits)
This course is the first half of a twosemester introductory, calculusbased, physics course for all students planning to enter one of the scientific professions. It covers the fundamental principles of mechanics, oscillations, and fluid mechanics.
Offered fall semester. Prerequisites: M149 or M151 (M151 may be concurrent) and concurrent with P202.
P202  Introductory Physics I Laboratory (1 credit)
One threehour laboratory is held each week covering topics studied in the lectures.
Offered fall semester. Concurrent with P201.
P211  Introductory Physics II (3 credits)
This course is the second half of a twosemester introductory, calculusbased, physics course for all students planning to enter one of the scientific professions. It covers the fundamental principles of waves, physical and geometrical optics, and electricity and magnetism.
Offered spring semester. Prerequisites: P201/202; concurrent with P212.
P212  Introductory Physics II Laboratory (1 credit)
One threehour laboratory is held each week covering topics studied in the lectures.
Offered spring semester. Concurrent with P211.
P304  Introduction to Modern Physics with Laboratory (4 credits)
This course considers atomic and nuclear physics and studies the experimental evidence that led to the development of the theories of quantum mechanics. The special theory of relativity, wave particle duality, and atomic structure are also examined. Students meet for three lectures and one threehour lab per week.
Offered in alternate fall semesters. Prerequisites: M152 and P211/212.
B. All of the following:
C331  Physical Chemistry I with Laboratory (4 credits)
This course involves chemical thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, and their applications. The following thermodynamic topics are considered: properties of gases, kinetic molecular theory, the laws of thermodynamics, thermochemistry, and chemical equilibrium. The following kinetic topics are considered: chemical reaction rates, determination of rate laws, reaction mechanisms, and theories of reaction rates. Three lectures and three hours of lab per week are required.
Offered fall semester. Prerequisites: C142/144, M152, and P211/212.
M252  Linear Algebra (4 credits)
This course provides an introduction to techniques and applications of linear algebra. Topics include: systems of linear equations, matrices, determinants, Euclidean nspace, real vector spaces, basis and dimension, linear transformations, inner products, and eigenvalues and eigenvectors.
Offered spring semester. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in M152.
P314  Digital Systems with Laboratory (4 credits)
This is a course on digital electronics and its applications in modern electronic instrumentation. Emphasis is placed on gaining experience with the use of individual digital integrated circuits and programmable arrays. The course covers Boolean algebra, simple gates, combinational and sequential logic circuits, counters, shift registers, state machines, astable multivibrators, encoding, decoding, multiplexing, and conversion between analog and digital representations. Coursework involves both circuit simulation and actual hardware implementations. The course targets applications in the natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science. Three hours of lecture and one threehour laboratory per week.
Offered in alternate fall semesters. Prerequisites: P211/212.
P340  Classical Mechanics (3 credits)
This course is an analytical study of Newtonian mechanics, including the harmonic oscillator, central force motion, non linear oscillators, and an introduction to the Lagrangian formulation.
Offered in alternate spring semesters. Prerequisites: M152 and P201/202.
P344  Mathematical Methods for Science (3 credits)
This course serves physics majors as well as those mathematics majors whose area of interest is analysis. Topics include: Fourier series, complex numbers, analytic functions, and derivatives and integrals of complex functions. Other topics may include Laurent series and residues, partial differential equations, and boundary value problems.
Offered in alternate spring semesters. Prerequisites: M251 and M252.
P360  Electricity and Magnetism I (3 credits)
This course is an introduction to the physics of electricity and magnetism at the intermediate undergraduate level. It examines the experimental evidence that led to the development of the theories of electromagnetism (electrostatics, polarization and dielectrics, magnetostatics and magnetization, electrodynamics, electromagnetic waves, potentials and fields, and radiation) and the development of Maxwellﾒs laws. The mathematical analysis of electromagnetic situations uses vector calculus to a great degree, so students also are exposed to working with a variety of vector operators.
Offered in alternate spring semesters. Prerequisites: M251 and P211/212.
P380  Quantum Mechanics I (3 credits)
This course expands on the ideas of quantum mechanics introduced in P304, and develops the necessary formalisms and tools for further work. Topics include the Schr�dinger equation in its time independent and timedependent forms, an introduction to operators, squarewell and harmonic oscillator potentials, scattering, the hydrogen atom, angular momentum, and perturbation theory.
Offered in alternate fall semesters. Prerequisites: M252 and P304.
P410  Physics Directed Research (2 credits)
This course is intended for all physics majors; it is recommended for majors in physics science education. It may be taken in addition to or in place of P390 Advanced Laboratory. Its purpose is to provide students an opportunity to explore a topic in physics in depth over a period of at least one semester under the guidance of a member of the physics faculty, and thereby demonstrate understanding of a particular concept or focused set of concepts at the advanced undergraduate level. It is also intended to give students projectbased experience in experimental design, record keeping, and scientific writing.
Prerequisites: minimum junior standing and P304.
C. Elective Courses:
P111  The Earth and the Solar System (3 credits)
This course examines physical, geological, and astronomical processes involved in shaping the Earth and other planets. The geological processes acting on the Earth and the natural history of the Earth are studied first, and then used to examine the other bodies of the solar system, studying how the physical characteristics of the planets influence and are influenced by the same basic processes operating in different ways. Topics include: the properties of Earth materials, the evolution of the Earth and geological structures, matter and energy in the Earth system, the Earth in the solar system and the universe, fundamental issues of planetary science, and fundamentals of observational astronomy and objects in the sky (moon phases, properties of orbits, etc.).
Offered every spring. Prerequisite: mathematics competency.
P113  Physics of Sound and Music (3 credits)
This course is an exploration of the fundamental physical concepts relating to sound (vibrations and waves, overtones, Fourier synthesis and analysis) and its perception (physiology, physics, and psychophysics of hearing) and measurement (transducers and the decibel scale); sound recording and reproduction (analog and digital); musical acoustics (temperament and pitch; families of musical instruments; speech and the human vocal tract); and the acoustics of enclosures.
Offered in alternate fall semesters. Prerequisite: mathematics competency.
P121  Astronomy: The Stars and Beyond (3 credits)
This generaleducation level course focuses on three broad topics in astronomy: the tools of astronomy (the celestial sphere and the motion of objects in the sky; scientific method; light, spectra, and atomic structure; the astronomical distance scale; gravity and celestial mechanics); stars and stellar evolution (the HertzsprungRussell diagram, the main sequence, and stellar lifecycles); and galaxies and cosmology (Hubbleﾒs Law, dark matter, evidence for the Big Bang, and theories of the early universe). The course meets for two hours of lecture and a twohour laboratory each week, and includes some use of the telescope.
Offered fall semester. Credit will not be granted for both P121 and P123
P123  Investigating the Universe (3 credits)
This general education level course covers topics similar in nature to P121 Astronomy: The Stars and Beyond but in somewhat more depth and without the observational laboratory component. It focuses on three broad areas in astronomy and cosmology: gathering information about the universe (science and its methods; models of motion of celestial objects [including distance scales and gravitation]; light, spectra, and atomic structure); the nature of stars and galaxies (stellar formation, evolution, and death; the expanding universe); and cosmology (the Big Bang theories of the early universe). Credit will not be granted for both P121 and P123
Prerequisite: mathematics competency.
P155  Foundations of Physics (3 credits)
This course is intended for elementary education majors as well as other nonscience majors. It examines the conceptual frameworks that underlie physics, including mechanics, heat, electricity and magnetism, and light. Two hours of lecture and one twohour lab per week.
Offered every spring and in alternate fall semesters. Prerequisite: mathematics competency.
P180  College Physics (3 credits)
This course is a survey of fundamental topics in physics, using the mathematical tools of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. This survey includes kinematics, vectors, Newtonﾒs laws, momentum, energy, oscillations and waves, and thermodynamics. Credit will not be granted for this course and P201.
Prerequisites: high school algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Corequisite: P181.
P181  College Physics Laboratory (1 credit)
This one threehour laboratory is held each week to address topics covered in P180 lecture. Credit will not be granted for this course and P202. Corequisite: P180.
P250  Introduction to Radiation Physics (3 credits)
The course includes the study of radioactive decay (the interactions of ionizing radiation with matter), characteristics of alpha, beta, and gamma radiation, nuclear instrumentation, dose calculations and dosimetry, production and use of xrays, nuclear statistics, and radiation safety.
Offered in alternate spring semesters. Prerequisites: P211/212 (may be concurrent).
P356  Introduction to Scientific Computing (3 credits)
A course designed to provide undergraduates students with the basic computational tools and techniques needed for their study in science and mathematics. Students learn by doing projects that solve problems in physical sciences and mathematics using symbolic and compiled languages with visualization. By use of the Sage problemsolving environment and the Python programming language, the students learn programming and numerical analysis in parallel with scientific problem solving.
Also offered as CS356 and M356. Prerequisites: CS106, M251, M252, and ST232.
P370  Microcontroller Organization and Architecture with Laboratory (4 credits)
The course covers the PIC18F4520 and Arduino microcontrollers as a paradigmatic microprocessor; other devices may be used as well. A brief survey of number systems, logic gates and Boolean algebra are followed by a study of the structure of microprocessors and the architecture of microprocessor systems. Programming microprocessors and the use of an assembler and a higherlevel language (C) is covered. Peripheral interface devices are studied along with some wired logic circuits. Students gain experience through the use of microprocessor simulators and hardware implementations.
Offered in alternate spring semesters. Prerequisite: CS106 and P314.
P390/391  Advanced Laboratory I, II (1 credit each)
Up to four credits may be earned in Advanced Laboratory (P390, P391, P490, P491), one hour each semester. This course is generally taken during junior year. Selected experiments from the following areas are included: mechanics, thermodynamics, radiation physics, optics, electronics, electricity and magnetism, and solid state physics. For each credit received the student selects a minimum of eight experiments spread over these areas. Typical experiments performed would be the FranckHertz experiment, photoelectric effect, Xray diffraction, thermoluminescent dosimetry, positronelectron annihilation, neutron activation analysis, thermionic emission, the Hall effect, nuclear magnetic resource. Michelson interferometer, forced harmonic oscillator, air gyroscope, velocity of light, Rutherford scattering.
This course is offered in alternative spring semesters or as needed for majors.
P422425  Topics in Physics (13 credits)
Selected topics in physics offered when faculty and student interest warrant.
P456  Scientific Computing Project (1 credit)
This course is required for all Scientific Computing minors. Its purpose is to provide students the opportunity to develop a research project or participate in an ongoing research project under direction of a faculty advisor. The project must combine scientific computing tools and techniques with a substantive scientific or engineering problem. It is also intended to give students experience in experimental design, recordkeeping, and scientific writing.
Also offered as CS456 and M456. Prerequisites: consent of both the faculty advisor and the minor supervisor, and CS/M/P 356.