This is an archive of the 2020-2021 University Catalog.
To access the most recent version, please visit

This is an archive of the 2020-2021 University Catalog.
To access the most recent version, please visit


Program: B.A., Physics

Program Description

The B.A. program in Physics is designed for students who are seeking a broad foundation in physics as part of a liberal arts education in the arts and sciences. It is particularly appropriate for those students (1) seeking a secondary teaching career or (2) planning to combine physics with other disciplines, such as music, law and business.

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. Students must complete the course requirements listed. 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. The dates of these exams will be posted in the department office. Finally, students are required to do a senior project in their final year and pass the associated class PHYS 497. For more information, consult the department undergraduate advisor.

1. Lower Division Required Courses (36 units)

2. Upper Division Required Courses (22 units)

PHYS 301 Analytical Mechanics I (3)
PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I (3)
PHYS 365 Experimental Physics I (2)
PHYS 375 Quantum Physics I (3)
PHYS 389 Mathematical Methods in Physics I (3)
PHYS 431 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (4)
PHYS 493 Physics and Astronomy Colloquium (1)
PHYS 497 Senior Project (3)

3. Upper Division Electives (6 units)

Electives should be chosen with approval of the department undergraduate advisor. Note: Upper division courses in the major plus upper division courses outside the major must total a minimum of 40 units in accordance with University requirements for a B.A. degree.

4. General Education (48 units)

Undergraduate students must complete 48 units of General Education as described in this Catalog.
9 units are satisfied by the following courses in the major: CHEM 101 satisfies B1 Physical Science; CHEM 101L satisfies B3 Science Laboratory Activity; MATH 150A satisfies Basic Skills B4 Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning; and PHYS 301 satisfies B5 Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning.

Total Units in the Major: 64

General Education Units: 39

Additional Units: 17

Total Units Required for the B.A. 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.