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Program: B.S., Physics


Program Description

The B.S. program in Physics is designed for students who desire to (1) pursue a career in physics-related research and development either in industry or government or (2) prepare for graduate work in physics or related subjects. The B.S. program in Physics has two options: Option I—Physics, and Option II—Astrophysics.

Option II specializes in applications of physics to astrophysical problems and may be tailored to be more experimental or theoretical in nature.

Program Requirements

To enroll in the first courses in Mathematics and Chemistry, students must obtain a satisfactory score on the Mathematics Placement Test (MPT) and the Chemistry Placement Test (CPT). Without satisfactory scores, students may be required to take additional courses in preparation for the required courses. The student must complete all courses listed under lower division required courses as well as those listed under one of the two options. In addition, all students are required to take two comprehensive exams—one on general physics upon completion of PHYS 227 or its equivalent and one on advanced physics just before graduation. Finally, students are required to do a senior project in their final year and pass the associated class PHYS 497. The dates of these exams will be posted in the department office. For more information, consult the department undergraduate advisor.

1. Lower Division Required Courses (36 units)

CHEM 101/L General Chemistry I and Lab (4/1)
MATH 150A Calculus I (5)
MATH 150B Calculus II (5)
MATH 250 Calculus III (3)
MATH 280 Applied Differential Equations (3)
PHYS 225/PHYS 220AL Physics I and Mechanics Lab (4/1)
PHYS 226/PHYS 220BL Physics II and Electricity and Magnetism Lab (4/1)
PHYS 227/PHYS 227L Physics III and Lab (4/1)

2. Upper Division Required Courses (40 units)

ASTR 301 The Dynamical Universe (3)
ASTR 401 The Radiative Universe (3)
PHYS 301 Analytical Mechanics I (3)
PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I (3)
PHYS 365 Experimental Physics I (2)
PHYS 366 Experimental Physics II (2)
PHYS 375 Quantum Physics I (3)
PHYS 389 Mathematical Methods in Physics I (3)
PHYS 402 Analytical Mechanics II (3)
PHYS 410 Electromagnetism II (3)
PHYS 431 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (4)
PHYS 465 Experimental Physics III (2)
PHYS 466 Experimental Physics IV (2)
PHYS 493 Physics and Astronomy Colloquium (1)
PHYS 497 Senior Project (3)

3. Upper Division Electives (3 units)

Choose 3 units from the following:

PHYS 420 Modern Optics (3)
PHYS 421 Laser Physics (3)
PHYS 451 Quantum Physics II (3)
PHYS 470 Introduction to Nuclear and Elementary Particle Physics (3)
PHYS 480 Introduction to Solid State Physics (3)
PHYS 489 Mathematical Methods in Physics II (3)
PHYS 490 Computer Applications in Physics (3)

4. General Education (48 units)

Undergraduate students must complete 48 units of General Education as described in this Catalog.
Basic Skills Mathematics is satisfied by MATH 150A. Natural Sciences is satisfied by CHEM 101/L and PHYS 225/PHYS 220AL. Physics majors also may satisfy Lifelong Learning by completing COMP 106/L or COMP 110/L.

Total Units in the Major/Option: 79

General Education Units: 36

Additional Units: 5

Total Units Required for the B.S. Degree: 120


Department of Physics and Astronomy
Chair: Damian J. Christian
Live Oak Hall (LO) 1128
(818) 677-2775

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Physics

Students will be able to:

  1. Describe natural phenomena in general and in their chosen program option using principles of physics.

2. Scientific Methods

Students will be able to:

  1. Set up laboratory experiments and collect data from observations and experiments.
  2. Combine insights and techniques from the various courses in the program (integrate knowledge).
  3. Derive quantitative predictions from a model through mathematical analysis.
  4. Analyze data, provide error analysis, and test a model or hypothesis by comparing with data.
  5. Competently use computer tools, including software programs for data analysis and presentation, numerical analysis and computer simulations.

3. Communication

Students will be able to:

  1. Convey physical concepts with mathematical expressions (quantitative literacy).
  2. Clearly communicate physical concepts, findings and interpretations through oral presentations (oral communication).
  3. Write clear, organized and illustrated technical reports with proper references to previous work in the area (written communication).
  4. Search for and read scientific literature (information literacy).

4. Responsibility and Ethics

Students will be able to:

  1. Make unbiased and objective judgments of theories and experiments.
  2. Maintain integrity in their research and adhere to ethical principles regarding plagiarism, data collection and selective data sampling.
  3. Give proper attribution.
  4. Practice lab safety.