Physics

Physics is the study of the most fundamental properties of matter and energy.

The physics program has been designed with the recognition that a student might choose to concentrate in physics for a variety of reasons. In addition to meeting the needs of those planning to continue their physics education in graduate school, the program serves students planning to pursue technical careers immediately after graduation, those seeking to enter medical, dental or other professional schools, and those planning to earn certification as high school teachers.

After completing a core curriculum in physics and mathematics and an introduction to the life and other physical sciences, students have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in basic and applied physics research. Most advanced students are able to participate in the research projects of faculty members during any of three University terms. Similar experiences may be arranged in hospital, industrial or government research facilities in the area.

The physics faculty have concentrated their efforts in atomic physics, condensed matter physics, biophysics and astrophysics. Physics majors have worked in these areas and also on projects in the interdisciplinary application of physics in medicine and the environment.

Prerequisites to the Major

A solid background in mathematics is essential to success in any scientific discipline. Incoming students who intend to major in physics should have completed at least three years of high school mathematics. First-year students should plan to enroll in MATH 105, MATH 115 or MATH 116 based on the results of their math placement tests. PHYS 150 and PHYS 151 are prerequisites to all other physics courses. Students should complete these courses as soon as possible.

CHEM 134General Chemistry IA4
or CHEM 144 Gen Chemistry IB
PHYS 150General Physics I4
PHYS 151General Physics II4
MATH 115
MATH 116
MATH 215
Calculus I
and Calculus II
and Calculus III
12
MATH 216Intro to Diff Equations3-4
or MATH 228 Diff Eqns with Linear Algebra
MATH 227Introduction to Linear Algebra3
Select two additional science courses from the following:8
General Chemistry IIA
General Chemistry IIB
Intro Org and Environ Biology
Intro Molec & Cellular Biology
Physical Geology
Total Credit Hours38-39

Dearborn Discovery Core Requirement

The minimum passing grade for a Dearborn Discovery Core (DDC) course is 2.0. The minimum GPA for the program is 2.0. In addition, the DDC permits any approved course to satisfy up to three credit hours within three different categories. Please see the General Education Program: The Dearborn Discovery Core section for additional information.

Foundational Studies

Written and Oral Communication (GEWO) – 6 Credits

Upper Level Writing Intensive (GEWI) – 3 Credits

Quantitative Thinking and Problem Solving (GEQT) – 3 Credits

Critical and Creative Thinking (GECC) – 3 Credits

Areas of Inquiry

Natural Science (GENS) – 7 Credits

  • Lecture/Lab Science Course
  • Additional Science Course

Social and Behavioral Analysis (GESB) – 9 Credits

Humanities and the Arts (GEHA) – 6 Credits

Intersections (GEIN) – 6 Credits

Capstone

Capstone (GECE) – 3 Credits

Foreign Language Requirement

Complete a two-semester beginning language sequence.

Ancient Greek I and II MCL 105 and MCL 106
Arabic I and II ARBC 101 and ARBC 102
Armenian I and II MCL 111 and MCL 112
French I and II FREN 101 and FREN 102
German I and II GER 101 and GER 102
Latin I and II LAT 101 and LAT 102
Spanish I and II SPAN 101 and SPAN 102

Major Requirements

Required Courses
PHYS 305Contemporary Physics3
PHYS 360Instrumentation for Scientists4
PHYS 401Mechanics3
PHYS 403Electricity and Magnetism3
PHYS 406Thermal and Statistical Physic3
PHYS 453Quantum Mechanics3
PHYS 460Advanced Physics Laboratory3
Select six additional credit hours of lecture courses in astronomy and/or physics, chosen from (only one course can be astronomy (ASTR)):6
Astrophysical Concepts
The Cosmic Distance Scale
Observational Techniques
Topics in Astronomy
Stellar Astrophysics
Galaxies and Cosmology
Computational Physics
Environmental Physics
Intro to Mathematical Physics
Current Topics in Physics
Optics
Biological Physics
Atomic and Nuclear Physics
Solid State Physics
Select three additional credit hours of laboratory/research courses, selected from:3
Advanced Physics Laboratory (may be repeated for credit)
Off-Campus Research
Laboratory Studies in Physics
Cognates
Students must complete at least six additional credit hours in upper-level cognate courses selected from: ASTR, BIOL, BCHM, CHEM, ESCI, ENST, GEOL, MICR, NSCI, MATH (excluding 385, 386, 387), STAT, BENG, CIS, ECE, ENGR, IMSE, ME or other subject areas intimately related to physics and approved by the physics faculty advisor by Petition. 16
Total Credit Hours37
1

Courses leading to knowledge of computer programming in languages such as Fortran, C++, or JAVA are particularly recommended.

Notes:

  1. A maximum of 44 credit hours of PHYS may count in the 120 hours required to graduate.
  2. At least 12 of the 31 upper level credit hours in PHYS must be elected at UM-Dearborn.
  3. A maximum of 6 credit hours of independent study/research in any Dept. of Natural Sciences discipline may count towards the 120 credit hours required to graduate.

Minor or LIBS Concentration 

A minor or concentration consists of 12 credit hours of upper-level courses in physics (PHYS).

PHYS 100     Perspectives in Physics     3 Credit Hours

An introductory look at the concepts and methods of physics as well as the role of physics in society today. Examines some of the problems facing physicists and the ways they go about tackling them. Problem solving includes the use of mathematics in physical situations. The course is designed for non-concentrators interested in physics. Three hours lecture. (S).

PHYS 125     Introductory Physics I     4 Credit Hours

Part I of a non-calculus, introductory, survey of physics. The concepts of physics are presented with an emphasis on the methods of solving physical problems. Topics are drawn from mechanics, waves, and thermal physics. This course and PHYS 126 are normally taken by students in biological science, preprofessional and computer science programs. Three hours lecture, one hour discussion, three hours laboratory. (F).

Prerequisite(s): MATH 105* or MPLS with a score of 113

Corequisite(s): PHYS 125L

PHYS 126     Introductory Physics II     4 Credit Hours

A continuation of PHYS 125. Topics are drawn from electricity and magnetism, optics, and modern physics. Three hours lecture, one hour discussion, three hours laboratory. (W).

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 125 or PHYS 150

Corequisite(s): PHYS 126L

PHYS 150     General Physics I     4 Credit Hours

Part I of an integrated, two-semester, calculus-based treatment of physics, with emphasis on the solution of physical problems through the understanding of a few basic concepts. Topics are drawn from mechanics. This course and PHYS 151 are normally taken by concentrators in physics, chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics, and engineering. Three hours lecture, one hour discussion, three hours laboratory. (F,W).

Prerequisite(s): MATH 115* or MPLS with a score of 116

Corequisite(s): PHYS 150L

PHYS 151     General Physics II     4 Credit Hours

A continuation of PHYS 150. Topics are drawn from electricity and magnetism, and optics. Three hours lecture, one hour discussion, three hours laboratory. (F,W).

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 150 and (MATH 116* or MPLS with a score of 215)

Corequisite(s): PHYS 151L

PHYS 305     Contemporary Physics     3 Credit Hours

An introduction to contemporary topics in physics of interest to science, mathematics and engineering students. Topics include relativity, and quantum mechanics and their applications to atoms, molecules, nuclei, solid state phenomena, and cosmology. Three hours lecture. (W).

Prerequisite(s): (PHYS 126 or PHYS 151) and (MATH 116 or MPLS with a score of 215)

PHYS 314     Computational Physics     3 Credit Hours

An introduction to numerical and computational techniques in physics and astronomy. Topics include an introduction to scientific computing, fitting data to a model, visualizing results, plotting, error analysis, and writing software to solve physical problems. Applications will be selected from a variety of subfields, including: classical mechanics, statistical physics, quantum physics, electromagnetism, chaos, biophysics, and astrophysics. Three hours lecture.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 151 and (MATH 205* or MATH 215*)

PHYS 320     Environmental Physics     3 Credit Hours

A survey of the applications of physical principles to the environment, and to the conversion, transfer, and use of energy. Problems of transportation, meteorology, and thermal pollution are included. Three hours lecture. (OC).

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 126 or PHYS 151

PHYS 360     Instrumentation for Scientists     4 Credit Hours

An introduction to the principles of electronic instrumentation used in scientific research. Methods of converting physical measurements into electronic signals by means of electrical circuits, transistors, digital and analog integrated circuits will be discussed. Digital computers as general purpose laboratory instruments will be explored. Students will complete individual projects. Three hours lecture, four hours laboratory. (F).

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 126 or PHYS 151

PHYS 370     Intro to Mathematical Physics     3 Credit Hours

As introduction to those mathematical methods that are widely used in understanding the physical phenomena exhibited by Nature. Topics include vector analysis, linear algebra, complex variables, Fourier analysis, and differential equations. Emphasis is on the application of these techniques to physical problems of interest to students in mathematics, engineering, and the physical sciences. Three hours lecture. (AY).

Prerequisite(s): (MATH 205 or MATH 215 or MPLS with a score of 215) and PHYS 151

PHYS 390     Current Topics in Physics     3 Credit Hours

A lecture course in a topic of current interest in physics. Topics vary and are announced in the current Schedule of Classes. Three hours lecture. (OC).

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 305*

PHYS 401     Mechanics     3 Credit Hours

A study of the classical physics of the motions of single particles, systems of particles, and rigid bodies. Topics include central force laws and planetary motion, collisions and scattering, rigid body motion, oscillations, Lagrange's equations, and Hamilton's principle. Three hours lecture. (F).

Prerequisite(s): (MATH 205 or MATH 215 or MPLS with a score of 215) and PHYS 151

PHYS 403     Electricity and Magnetism     3 Credit Hours

The study of electrostatics, magnetostatics and electrodynamics using Maxwell's equations. Of interest to engineers and physical scientists, the course focuses on the logical development of Maxwell's equations from experimental laws and on their application to electromagnetic phenomena. Three hours lecture. (W).

Prerequisite(s): (MATH 205 or MATH 215 or MPLS with a score of 215) and PHYS 151

PHYS 405     Optics     3 Credit Hours

An introduction to wave and ray optics for students in engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences. Topics of discussion include reflection and refraction at dielectric surfaces, lenses and mirrors, fiber optics, polarization, interference, and Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction. Additional material on coherence, Fourier optics and spatial filtering, and holography is presented as dictated by students' needs and interests, and as time permits. Three hours lecture. (AY).

Prerequisite(s): (MATH 205 or MATH 215) or MPLS with a score of 215 and PHYS 151

PHYS 406     Thermal and Statistical Physic     3 Credit Hours

A study of thermodynamic phenomena using the methods of statistical mechanics. Designed for engineering students and concentrators in mathematics and the physical sciences; extensive application is made to physical, chemical and biological systems and phenomena, including solids, liquids, gases, paramagnets, thermal radiation, DNA, hemoglobin, semiconductors, heat engines, chemical reactions, and phase transitions. Three hours lecture. (F).

Prerequisite(s): (MATH 205 or MATH 215 and PHYS 151 or MPLS with a score of 215)

PHYS 416     Biological Physics     3 Credit Hours

A course based on the methodology of physics with particular emphasis on the applications of theoretical models and experimental methods to biological objects and systems. Topics may include bioelectricity, membranes, polymers, and physical chemistry of macromolecules. Three hours lecture. (OC).

Prerequisite(s): MATH 205 or (MATH 215 and PHYS 151)

PHYS 421     Astrophysics     3 Credit Hours

A calculus-based introduction to several major areas of modern astrophysics for students concentrating in the physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Topics to be covered include observable properties of stars and star systems, stellar structure and evolution, binary systems and galactic x-ray sources, galaxies and quasars, and cosmology. Three hours lecture. (AY).

Prerequisite(s): (PHYS 305 or ASTR 301 or ASTR 330) and (MATH 205 or MATH 215)

PHYS 453     Quantum Mechanics     3 Credit Hours

Concepts of quantum mechanics with applications of the Schrodinger wave equation to the simpler atoms, molecules, and nuclei. Topics of current interest to physicists, chemists, and biologists are discussed. Three hours lecture. (F).

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 305 and MATH 216

PHYS 457     Atomic and Nuclear Physics     3 Credit Hours

Topics in modern atomic physics such as optical and radio-frequency spectroscopy and scattering of atoms and electrons are considered. An introduction to nuclear physics, including nuclear interactions and structure, radioactive decay, fission, and fusion. Three hours lecture. (AY).

Prerequisite(s): (MATH 205 or MATH 215 or MPLS with a score of 215) and PHYS 305

PHYS 459     Advanced Physics Laboratory     2 Credit Hours

Experimental techniques will be introduced with emphasis on modern physical measurements. Pre-developed apparatus will be available for an implementation of several standard experiments. General facilities will also be available for selected experiments designed by the students to meet individual needs. Instruction in the planning of experiments and the organization and presentation of results will be included. Eight hours laboratory. (Offered Fall Term only.)

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 305 and PHYS 403

PHYS 460     Advanced Physics Laboratory     3 Credit Hours

Experiments in both classical and modern physics using contemporary techniques. Commercial apparatus is used in several experiments. Advanced students are encouraged to initiate and conduct their own experiments. Instruction in the planning of experiments and the presentation of oral and written reports is included. One hour recitation, six hours laboratory. Course may be repeated for credit. (W).

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 305* and PHYS 360

PHYS 463     Solid State Physics     3 Credit Hours

A study of the structure and properties of the solid state of matter with emphasis on crystalline solids, crystal structures, lattice dynamics, electrons in metals and semiconductors, and dielectric and magnetic properties of solids. Three hours lecture. (AY).

Prerequisite(s): (MATH 205 or MATH 215 or MPLS with a score of 215) and PHYS 305

PHYS 490     Topics in Physics     1 to 3 Credit Hours

A lecture course in a topic of current interest in physics. Topics vary and are announced in the current Schedule of Classes. One to three hours lecture. (OC).

PHYS 495     Off-Campus Research     1 to 3 Credit Hours

Participation in ongoing experimental research at an off-campus laboratory. Assignments made by cooperative or internship agreement between the research laboratory, the student, and the physics concentration advisor. Course may be repeated for credit. Four to twelve hours laboratory. Permission of concentration advisor. (F,W,S).

PHYS 497     Seminar in Physics     1 to 3 Credit Hours

Current topics from various areas in pure and applied physics are reported upon by students, faculty, and guest lecturers. Topics presented will vary from year to year. Course may be repeated for credit. One to three hours seminar. (W).

PHYS 498     Directed Studies in Physics     1 to 3 Credit Hours

Special topics in physics chosen by agreement between student and instructor. Course may be repeated for credit. Permission of instructor. (F,W,S).

PHYS 499     Laboratory Studies in Physics     1 to 3 Credit Hours

Experimental studies in physics selected by agreement between student and instructor. Four to twelve hours laboratory. Course may be repeated for credit. Permission of instructor. (F,W,S).

 
*

An asterisk denotes that a course may be taken concurrently.

Frequency of Offering

The following abbreviations are used to denote the frequency of offering: (F) fall term; (W) winter term; (S) summer term; (F, W) fall and winter terms; (YR) once a year; (AY) alternating years; (OC) offered occasionally