# Physics

Physics is the most fundamental of the sciences, exploring the universe from its smallest to grandest scales. Physicists use the language of mathematics to understand and describe nature in both its greatest simplicity and its most uncontrollable complexity. Students of physics become model-builders of everything from the architecture of the cosmos, to the substructure of the nuclei, and even the hidden patterns of the stock market. The bachelor’s degree in physics prepares students for a wide range of career paths including graduate programs in physics, astronomy, or engineering, as well as careers in data science, engineering and national laboratories. Students also go on to earn law and medical degrees and teach all ages from preschool to graduate school.

## Physics Major

### Preparation for the Major (32 Units)

Code | Title | Hours |
---|---|---|

PHYS 270 & 270L | Introduction to Mechanics and Mechanics Lab | 4 |

PHYS 271 & 271L | Introduction to Electricity and Magnetism and Introduction to Electricity and Magnetism Lab | 4 |

PHYS 272 & 272L | Introduction to Modern Physics and Introduction to Modern Physics Lab | 4 |

MATH 150 | Calculus I | 4 |

MATH 151 | Calculus II | 4 |

MATH 250 | Calculus III | 4 |

CHEM 151 & 151L | General Chemistry I and General Chemistry I Laboratory | 4 |

CHEM 152 & 152L | General Chemistry II and General Chemistry II Laboratory | 4 |

### Major Requirements (34 Units)

The 28 units of upper-division work in physics includes PHYS 314, PHYS 319, PHYS 324, PHYS 330, and PHYS 480W. In addition, students must complete 9 units of elective physics coursework at the 300 or 400 levels. The major culminates with independent research (PHYS 496) and our seminar series (PHYS 493 and PHYS 495). While only 1 unit of PHYS 496 is required, students are encouraged to start research (PHYS 496) as early as possible and take 2-3 units. Most of the upper-division courses are taught on an alternate year cycle, but since upper-division work may begin before the junior year, students have ample time to complete the major within four years. Two upper-division courses in mathematics are required for the major, and should be taken as early as possible, with MATH 310 and MATH 331 suggested. Students are encouraged to take as many physics and mathematics courses as their schedule will allow.

The following program of study fulfills the minimum requirement for a bachelor’s degree in physics. It is recommended that a student take MATH 150 in the first semester, and MATH 151 and PHYS 270 and PHYS 270L in the second semester. Junior and senior year courses will depend on the graduation year as most upper-division courses are offered every other year. Students are encouraged to meet with their academic advisors to map out a schedule that best fits their needs and interests.

Code | Title | Hours |
---|---|---|

PHYS 314 | Analytical Mechanics | 3 |

PHYS 319 | Thermal and Statistical Physics | 3 |

PHYS 324 | Electromagnetism | 3 |

PHYS 330 | Quantum Mechanics | 3 |

PHYS 480W | Experimental Modern Physics | 4 |

PHYS 493 | Seminar I: The Craft of Scientific Presentation | 1 |

PHYS 495 | Seminar II: Frontiers of Physics | 1 |

PHYS 496 | Research | 1-3 |

9 units of upper-division (300 level) physics electives | 9 | |

Two upper-division courses in Mathematics | 6 | |

## Recommended Program of Study, Physics

Freshman Year | ||
---|---|---|

Semester I | Hours | |

Preceptorial | 3 | |

MATH 150 | Calculus I | 4 |

CC or Electives | 9 | |

Semester II | ||

PHYS 270 & 270L | Introduction to Mechanics | 4 |

PHYS 270L | Mechanics Lab | 1 |

MATH 151 | Calculus II | 4 |

CC or electives | 7-9 | |

Sophomore Year | ||

Semester I | ||

PHYS 271 & 271L | Introduction to Electricity and Magnetism | 4 |

PHYS 271L | Introduction to Electricity and Magnetism Lab | 1 |

CHEM 151 & 151L | General Chemistry I | 4 |

MATH 250 | Calculus III | 4 |

CC or electives | 3-6 | |

Semester II | ||

PHYS 272 & 272L | Introduction to Modern Physics | 4 |

PHYS 272L | Introduction to Modern Physics Lab | 1 |

CHEM 152 & 152L | General Chemistry II | 4 |

CHEM 152L | General Chemistry II Laboratory | 1 |

PHYS 496 | Research | 1 |

Junior Year | ||

Semester I | ||

PHYS 319 | Thermal and Statistical Physics | 3 |

PHYS 330 | Quantum Mechanics | 3 |

MATH 310 | Applied Mathematics for Science and Engineering I | 3 |

CC or electives | 5-8 | |

Semester II | ||

PHYS 314 | Analytical Mechanics | 3 |

PHYS Elective | 3 | |

MATH 331 | Partial Differential Equations | 3 |

CC or electives | 6-9 | |

Senior Year | ||

Semester I | ||

PHYS 324 | Electromagnetism | 3 |

PHYS Elective | 3 | |

PHYS 493 | Seminar I: The Craft of Scientific Presentation | 1 |

PHYS 496 | Research | 1-3 |

CC and electives | 5-8 | |

Semester II | ||

PHYS 480W | Experimental Modern Physics | 4 |

PHYS Elective | 3 | |

PHYS 495 | Seminar II: Frontiers of Physics | 1 |

CC or electives | 6-9 |

## Physics Minor

The 18 units required for a minor in Physics must include:

Code | Title | Hours |
---|---|---|

Select either 8 units from the 270 series or units from the 136 series along with PHYS 272 & PHYS 272L | ||

PHYS 270 & 270L | Introduction to Mechanics and Mechanics Lab | 4 |

PHYS 271 & 271L | Introduction to Electricity and Magnetism and Introduction to Electricity and Magnetism Lab | 4 |

PHYS 136 & 136L | General Physics I and General Physics I Lab | 4 |

PHYS 137 & 137L | General Physics II and General Physics II Lab | 4 |

PHYS 272 & 272L | Introduction to Modern Physics and Introduction to Modern Physics Lab | 4 |

6 additional Upper-Division Units | 6 |

### Courses

PHYS 101 | PHYSICS AND SOCIETY

Units: 3

A discussion of the concepts which unify our experience with the physical world. Topics are presented at an introductory level for the student with little or no background in physical science. Science related topics of special interest are discussed. Examples include: alternatives for energy production and conservation; radiation, its effect and applications; and ethical decisions in the application of new scientific discoveries. Weekly lectures include demonstrations and discussions. Every semester.

PHYS 102 | PHYSICS, ENERGY, AND INFORMATION

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Corequisites: PHYS 102L

An introduction to physics concepts and principles with tangents into related technologies and global issues. Special attention is paid to devices and networks that furnish two necessities of modern life: energy and information. No background in physical science is required.

PHYS 102L | PHYSICS, ENERGY, AND INFORMATION LAB

Units: 1 Repeatability: No

Corequisites: PHYS 102

Laboratory component of PHYS 102. Guided hands-on investigation of physics principles and related technologies.

PHYS 105 | PHYSICAL SCIENCES FOR K-8 TEACHERS

Units: 3

A laboratory/lecture/discussion class designed to lead students toward an understanding of selected topics in chemistry and physics. The course topics are selected to satisfy the Physical Science specifications of the Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (K-12). Enrollment is limited to liberal studies majors. Two two-hour laboratory sessions per week. This course is cross-listed with Chemistry 105. Fall semester.

PHYS 117 | ASTRONOMY WITH LAB

Units: 3

A survey of astronomy covering astronomical history, descriptive astronomy, planetology, stellar birth/life/death, and cosmology. This course satisfies the core curriculum physical science requirement with laboratory. Two lectures and one laboratory weekly. No science prerequisites. Fall semester.

PHYS 136 | GENERAL PHYSICS I

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: (MATH 130 or MATH 150)

Corequisites: PHYS 136L

A study of the fundamental principles of mechanics and wave motion, sound, and heat. Algebra and some calculus are required. Three hours of lecture weekly. Concurrent enrollment in 136L required.

PHYS 136L | GENERAL PHYSICS I LAB

Units: 1 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 136 (Can be taken Concurrently)

A laboratory course introducing the concepts and techniques of experimental physics. Meets weekly.

PHYS 137 | GENERAL PHYSICS II

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 136 and PHYS 136L and (MATH 130 or MATH 150)

Corequisites: PHYS 137L

A study of the fundamental principles of electricity and magnetism, light, and modern physics. Algebra and some calculus are required. Three hours of lecture weekly. Concurrent enrollment in 137L required.

PHYS 137L | GENERAL PHYSICS II LAB

Units: 1 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 137 (Can be taken Concurrently)

A laboratory course introducing the concepts and techniques of experimental physics. Meets weekly.

PHYS 270 | INTRODUCTION TO MECHANICS

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MATH 150 (Can be taken Concurrently) or MATH 151 (Can be taken Concurrently)

Corequisites: PHYS 270L

A study of the fundamental principles of Newtonian mechanics, kinematics, and momentum and energy conservation laws. Harmonic oscillations and wave motion will also be discussed. Three hours of lecture weekly. Concurrent enrollment in 270L required.

PHYS 270L | MECHANICS LAB

Units: 1 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 270 (Can be taken Concurrently)

A laboratory course introducing the concepts and techniques of experimental physics. Meets weekly.

PHYS 271 | INTRODUCTION TO ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: (PHYS 270 and PHYS 270L) or (PHYS 136 and PHYS 136L) and MATH 151 and PHYS 271L (Can be taken Concurrently)

A study of the fundamental principles of classical electricity and magnetism focusing on electrostatics and magnetic force. Circuits, electromagnetism, and light are also introduced. Three hours of lecture weekly. Concurrent enrollment in 271L required.

PHYS 271L | INTRODUCTION TO ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM LAB

Units: 1 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 271 (Can be taken Concurrently)

A laboratory course that introduces the concepts and techniques of experimental physics. Meets weekly.

PHYS 272 | INTRODUCTION TO MODERN PHYSICS

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MATH 151 and MATH 250 (Can be taken Concurrently) and PHYS 272L (Can be taken Concurrently) and (PHYS 271 and PHYS 271L) or (PHYS 137 and PHYS 137L) and PHYS 272L (Can be taken Concurrently)

An introduction to modern physics including principles and applications of quantum mechanics, atomic and nuclear physics, and special relativity. Required for all physics and biophysics majors and physics minors, and is an accepted elective for engineering students. Concurrent enrollment in 272L required. Three hours of lecture per week. Spring semester.

PHYS 272L | INTRODUCTION TO MODERN PHYSICS LAB

Units: 1

Corequisites: PHYS 272

Laboratory experiments to illustrate the topics presented in the lecture course: Introduction to Modern Physics (PHYS 272).

PHYS 301 | ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: (PHYS 271 and PHYS 271L) or (PHYS 137 and PHYS 137L)

Energy is the lifeblood of civilization, but its use entails substantial environmental costs. This course examines the physics and technology of energy production, distribution and use, as well as its environmental and societal consequences. It is suitable for students having completed lower-division physics.

PHYS 307 | ASTROPHYSICS

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 272 and PHYS 272L

A study of the fundamental principles of astrophysics including topics such as stellar formation, life and death, galaxy evolution, special and general relativity, and cosmology.

PHYS 314 | ANALYTICAL MECHANICS

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 271 and PHYS 271L and MATH 250

Statics and dynamics are developed using vector analysis, the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulations. Orbit theory and chaos are among the special topics treated.

PHYS 319 | THERMAL AND STATISTICAL PHYSICS

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 272

This course develops modern statistical mechanics and its application to thermodynamic principles and phenomena. Topics include ideal gases, phase transitions, stellar systems, chemical equilibrium, kinetic theory, paramagnetism, polymers and biophysics.

PHYS 324 | ELECTROMAGNETISM

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MATH 250 (Can be taken Concurrently) and PHYS 272

A development of Maxwell’s equations using vector calculus. The electrical and magnetic properties of matter, solutions of boundary value problems, special relativity and radiation theory are also developed. Three lectures per week.

PHYS 330 | QUANTUM MECHANICS

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MATH 250 and PHYS 272

Introduction to the fundamental properties of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics, including the Schrödinger equation in 1-3 dimensions, the mathematical formalism (involving linear algebra and partial differential equations) of quantum theory, the solution of the hydrogen atom, and elementary perturbation and scattering theory. Entanglement, Bell’s theorem, exotic states of matter, and history of physics are among the special topics discussed.

PHYS 331 | ADVANCED TOPICS IN QUANTUM PHYSICS

Units: 3

Prerequisites: PHYS 330

Applications of Quantum Theory in areas such as atomic, nuclear, solid state, and elementary particle physics.

PHYS 340 | BIOLOGICAL PHYSICS

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 272

Biological physics introduces the interface between the two classic sciences. Physics principles and techniques are applied to questions and problems in biology with a focus on molecular and cellular biology. Topics will be introduced systematically, building on the fundamentals of thermodynamics up to current cutting edge research topics such as protein folding, molecular machines and brain function. Specific topics may include single-molecule biophysics, optical trapping, molecular and cellular self-assembly, gene regulation, biomaterials and biomedical imaging.

PHYS 371 | COMPUTATIONAL PHYSICS

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MATH 151 and PHYS 272 (Can be taken Concurrently)

A hands-on introduction to the implementation of computational algorithms to solve problems in physics and biophysics and the interpretation of the results. Detailed topics covered will depend on instructor expertise. Topics may include solutions to ordinary and partial differential equations, linear algebra, fast Fourier transforms, numerical integration, differentiation and approximation, statistics and Monte Carlo methods.

PHYS 381W | EXPERIMENTAL BIOPHYSICS

Units: 4 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 272 and PHYS 272L

A laboratory-based course introducing biophysics majors to interdisciplinary research techniques. Instrumentation development and experimental research explore topics of fluorescence and force spectroscopy, molecular diffusion, fluctuation-dissipation theory and viscoelasticity related to molecular and cellular biophysical systems. Students are trained in wet-lab techniques and computational methods using Matlab and Fiji. This is the primary upper-division laboratory requirement for biophysics majors and fulfills the core advanced writing and quantitative reasoning requirements. Students write and edit research reports on their experimental results at a level suitable for journal publication. The writing process also includes literature search techniques and an introduction to the peer review process.

PHYS 477 | INTRODUCTION TO FLUIDS

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 272 and MATH 250

An introduction to the basic principles of fluids. This course will serve as an introduction to concepts used in physical oceanography, atmospheric science, and other disciplines in which fluids are studied or utilized. Examples of applications to a broad range of disciplines (physics, engineering, earth sciences, astrophysics, and biology) will be developed.

PHYS 480W | EXPERIMENTAL MODERN PHYSICS

Units: 4 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 330

A laboratory-based course focused on the introduction to principles of research techniques with an emphasis on modern physics. Experiments illustrate physical phenomena pertaining to core areas of physics: quantum mechanics, atomic and nuclear physics, laser physics and plasma physics. Analog and digital data acquisition instrumentation, high-resolution optical and laser technology, and phase sensitive detection technology will be explored. This course is the required writing-intensive course for physics majors and fulfills the upper-division core writing requirement. Students write papers up to professional standards required of publication in physics research journals, learn to write mathematical prose, engage in the peer review process, and learn to code LaTeX.

PHYS 481W | EXPERIMENTAL BIOPHYSICS

Units: 4

Prerequisites: PHYS 272 and PHYS 272L and MATH 250

A laboratory-based course focused on the introduction to principles of biophysics research techniques. Instrumentation development and experimental research will explore topics of fluorescence and force spectroscopy, molecular diffusion, fluctuation-dissipation theory and viscoelasticity related to molecular and cellular biophysical systems. Students will also be trained in general wet-lab techniques and computational data acquisition and analysis using Labview and Matlab. This course is the primary upper division laboratory requirement for the biophysics major and fulfills the upper division core writing requirement. Students will write and edit research reports on their experimental results at a level suitable for journal publication. The writing process will also include literature search techniques and an introduction to the peer review process.

PHYS 487 | TECHNIQUES IN PHYSICS

Units: 1-3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

Training and practice in those areas of physics of practical importance to the technician, teacher, and researcher. To include, but not limited to, technical methodology, preparation and technique in the teaching laboratory, and routines supportive of research. May be repeated up to a maximum of four units of credit.

PHYS 493 | SEMINAR I: THE CRAFT OF SCIENTIFIC PRESENTATION

Units: 1 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: PHYS 496

First semester of the physics and biophysics seminar series devoted to instruction on scientific presentations. Students give short presentations on topics of interest, and prepare a lengthy presentation on their research. Stress is laid on the preparation, execution, and critique of effective scientific presentations. One hour per week. Fall semester.

PHYS 494 | SPECIAL TOPICS

Units: 1-3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

Prerequisites: PHYS 271 and PHYS 271L

Topics chosen by the instructor in areas such as: thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, solid state, hydrodynamics, quantum mechanics, plasma physics, nuclear physics, elementary particle physics, and advanced physics laboratory. May be repeated for credit if the course material is different.

PHYS 495 | SEMINAR II: FRONTIERS OF PHYSICS

Units: 1

The second semester of the seminar series focuses on exposure to current physics research in the form of informal and formal presentations, lab tours, and scientific articles on a wide range of current research fields. Students will attend physics seminars at UCSD and will meet with physicists in fields related to the seminar beforehand. To prepare for the seminars and meetings, students will read journal articles on the topic. Students will learn about a wide range of cutting-edge physics research topics such as: dark matter, global warming and alternative energy sources, biomechanics, string theory, neutrinos, etc. Meets 2-4 hours every other Thursday. Spring semester.

PHYS 496 | RESEARCH

Units: 1-3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

An independent research project supervised by a faculty mentor in the physics department. Each student works closely with a faculty mentor to address a mutually agreed upon research problem in experimental or theoretical physics. A student seeking PHYS 496 credit must take initiative to meet with physics faculty members to learn about their research interests and possible problems to research. PHYS 496 credit requires the consent of the faculty mentor. A written report is required.

PHYS 499 | INDEPENDENT STUDY

Units: 1-3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)