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Physics Courses

PHYS  100 - Introductory Physics I (4)

First course of the two-semester introductory sequence of algebra-based physics. Main topics include mechanics of particles and systems of particles, properties of matter, fluids, heat, waves, and sound. Primarily for students majoring in the life sciences. Concurrent lab enrollment required.

PHYS  100 - Laboratory (0)

PHYS  101 - Introductory Physics II (4)

Second course of the two-semester introductory sequence of algebra-based physics. Main topics include electricity and magnetism, light, and an overview of modern atomic and subatomic physics. Primarily for students majoring in the life sciences. Concurrent lab enrollment required. • Prerequisite: PHYS 100

PHYS  101 - Laboratory (0)

PHYS  110 - General Physics I (4)

First course of the two-semester introductory sequence of calculus-based physics. Main topics include Newtonian mechanics of particles and systems of particles, rigid bodies, gravitation, oscillations, and waves. Primarily for students majoring in the physical sciences and mathematics. Concurrent lab enrollment required. • Corequisite: MATH 109

PHYS  110 - Laboratory (0)

PHYS  120 - Astronomy: From the Earth to the Cosmos (4)

An introduction to the universe, from the Earth to the most distant galaxies. Main topics include stars, galaxies, and cosmology, in addition to foundational topics such as gravitation, light, and matter. Primarily for non-science majors. Concurrent lab enrollment and observation nights required. No math or physics prerequisites.

PHYS  120 - Laboratory (0)

PHYS  121 - Planetary Astronomy (4)

An introduction to the Solar System and extrasolar planetary systems. Main topics include the Sun; the planets and their moons; comets and asteroids; extrasolar planetary systems; and foundational topics such as gravitation, light, and matter. Primarily for non-science majors. Concurrent lab enrollment and observation nights required. No math or physics prerequisites.

PHYS  121 - Laboratory (0)

PHYS  122 - The Geometry of the Cosmos: Einstein, Black Holes, and the Big Bang (4)

An introduction to the geometry of the cosmos, centered on black holes and the Big Bang, as described by Einstein's Universe: general relativity. Problems related to gravitation, space, time, and contemporary astronomy and cosmology are considered. Primarily for non-science majors. No math or physics prerequisites.

PHYS  130 - Concepts in Physics (4)

A mostly conceptual introduction to the principles and applications of physics. Main topics include the laws of motion, conservation principles, gravitation, and the properties of matter, light, and sound. Primarily for students majoring in Architecture and Community Design. Concurrent lab enrollment required. 
Pre-requisites: Math 107, 109, or high school calculus.

PHYS  130 - Laboratory (0)

PHYS  135 - Masterpiece Physics (4)

Within a background of artistic masterpieces, this course explores sound, light, color, and how the brain perceives them. Special topics include musical instruments, photographic cameras, and paintings; and the mathematical structures within pieces of artistic expression. Concurrent lab enrollment required. 
No math or physics prerequisites.

PHYS  135 - Laboratory (0)

PHYS  195 - FYS: First-Year Seminar (4)

First Year Seminars are designed and taught by faculty who have a special passion for the topic. All FYSeminars are small classes (16 students) that count toward the university Core. Many FYSeminars include enrichment activities such as excursions into the city or guest speakers. FYSeminars are only open to students in their first or second semester at USF, and students may only take one FYS, in either Fall or Spring. For a detailed description of this course, and other FYSeminars this semester, go to this webpage by cutting and pasting the link: http://www.usfca.edu/artsci/firstyearsem/

PHYS  201 - Physics by Inquiry (4)

A step-by-step introduction to physics and the physical sciences. Starting from their own observations, students develop basic physical concepts, use and interpret different forms of scientific representations, and construct explanatory models with predictive capability. No math or physics prerequisites.

PHYS  201 - Laboratory (0)

PHYS  210 - General Physics II (4)

Second course of the two-semester introductory sequence of calculus-based physics. Main topics include electromagnetism (electric fields, electric currents, circuits, magnetic fields, Maxwell's equations, and electromagnetic waves) and thermodynamics (heat and the laws of thermodynamics). Primarily for students majoring in the physical sciences and mathematics. Concurrent lab enrollment required. 
Prerequisites: PHYS 110 and MATH 109; corequisite: MATH 110

PHYS  210 - Laboratory (0)

PHYS  221 - Ancient Astronomy (4)

Course topics will focus on the historical development of astronomy, including the astronomy and cosmology of ancient cultures and peoples, the role and contributions of Jesuit astronomers and the Jesuit scientific tradition, and, the development of modern cosmology through the scientific revolution. Material will include the discoveries and cosmologies of various Native American, Hawaiian and indigenous peoples, central/south American and Middle Eastern cultures, as well as the Indian and Chinese cultures. This class is designed to be an introductory astronomy course open to any student at USF. No math or physics prerequisites.

PHYS  240 - Modern Physics (4)

An introduction to relativistic and quantum physics. Topics include special and general relativity, and the experimental and theoretical basis of quantum physics (with emphasis on Schrodinger quantum mechanics). Applications are drawn from atomic, molecular, solid-state, nuclear, and particle physics. Primarily for students majoring in the physical sciences and mathematics. Prerequisites: PHYS 210 and MATH 110; corequisite: MATH 211 Prerequisites: PHYS 210 with a minimum grade of C and MATH 110 with a minimum grade of C and concurrent MATH 211 with a minimum grade of C

PHYS  261 - Electronics (4)

This course provides an introduction to methods of electronics measurements, particularly the application of oscilloscopes and computer-based data acquisition. Topics covered include diodes, transistors, operational amplifiers, filters, transducers, and integrated circuits. Emphasis is placed on practical knowledge, including prototyping, troubleshooting, and laboratory notebook style. 
 Prerequisites: PHYS 210 and MATH 110. Corequisite: MATH 211.

PHYS  262 - Intro to Digital Electronics (4)

PHYS 262 – Introduction to Digital Electronics (4) This course provides an introduction to analysis and design of basic digital circuits and advanced laboratory electronic measurements. Topics covered include integrated circuits, operational amplifiers and their applications, basic digital logic gates, basic flip-flops and registers, digital displays, digital instruments for digital to analog and analog to digital conversion, microprocessor fundamentals, and an introduction to the Arduino processor and its applications. Emphasis is placed on practical knowledge, including prototyping, troubleshooting, and laboratory notebook style.

PHYS  286 - Special Topics in Physics (4)

Topics not covered by other Physics curriculum offerings. Offered intermittently.

PHYS  286 - Laboratory (0)

PHYS  298 - Directed Study for Advanced Undergraduates (1 - 4)

With the written consent of the instructor and the Department chair, a special study (of various forms and credit values) in experimental, theoretical or mathematical physics.

PHYS  299 - Directed Research for Advanced Undergraduates (1 - 4)

With the written consent of the instructor and the Department chair, a special study (of various forms and credit values) in experimental, theoretical or mathematical physics.

PHYS  301 - Computational Physics (4)

An introduction to the use of computer simulations in physics, with emphasis on computer models and numerical techniques. In addition, special topics (such as chaos, fractals, neural networks, and statistical physics) may be introduced. No previous familiarity with programming languages is assumed. Prerequisites: PHYS 240 and MATH 211

PHYS  310 - Analytical Mechanics (4)

General theory of three formulations of classical mechanics: Newtonian, Lagrangian, and Hamiltonian; and introduction to the calculus of variations. Applications include linear and nonlinear oscillations, gravitation and central-force motion, noninertial frames, systems of particles, and rigid-body motion. Emphasis is placed on those concepts that provide a transition to quantum mechanics. 
Prerequisites: PHYS 210 and MATH 110; corequisite: MATH 211.

PHYS  312 - Statistical and Thermal Physics (4)

Survey of classical thermodynamics and introduction to the theory of equilibrium statistical mechanics in three different ensembles: microcanonical, canonical, and grand canonical. Applications include ideal and real gases, Maxwell-Boltzmann, Bose-Einstein, and Fermi-Dirac statistics, blackbody radiation, specific heats, magnetic systems, and phase transitions. 
Prerequisites: PHYS 240 and MATH 211; corequisite: PHYS 371

PHYS  320 - (4)

General theory of electromagnetism, centered on Maxwell's equations. Topics include electrostatics, Laplace's and Poisson's equations and boundary value problems, multipole expansions, magnetostatics, dielectric and magnetic media, and Maxwell’s equations (including potential formulations of electrodynamics and electromagnetic waves). Prerequisites: PHYS 210 and MATH 211; Corequisite: PHYS 371 Prerequisites: PHYS 210 with a minimum grade of C and MATH 211 with a minimum grade of C and concurrent PHYS 371 with a minimum grade of C

PHYS  330 - Quantum Mechanics (4)

General theory of quantum mechanics, including its abstract formulation using the Dirac notation. Topics include the quantum postulates, the position and momentum representations, the generalized uncertainty principle, quantum dynamics and the Hamiltonian, the harmonic oscillator, angular momentum, spin, central potentials, and select approximation methods. 
Prerequisites: PHYS 240 and MATH 211; corequisite: PHYS 371

PHYS  333 - Solid State Physics (4)


An introduction to the physics of the solid state and condensed matter. Topics include crystal lattices, thermal properties, the free-electron gas, the dielectric constant, band theory, diamagnetism and paramagnetism, and transport theory. Applications are centered on metals, semiconductors, and superconductors, with emphasis on the underlying quantum principles. 
 Prerequisites: PHYS 240 and MATH 211. Corequisite: PHYS 371

PHYS  340 - Optics (4)

An in-depth study of geometric and physical optics. Applications include matrix formulation of geometrical optics in a form suitable for computer calculations, multiple-layer dielectric films, polarization, interference, diffraction, and holography. Offered in the Fall of even-numbered years.

PHYS  341 - Upper Division Lab I (4)

A group of advanced physics experiments at the upper-division level. Laboratories emphasize optics, in addition to atomic physics, fundamental constants, nuclear physics, and chaos. 
 Prerequisites: PHYS 240 and MATH 211.

PHYS  342 - Upper Division Lab II (4)

A group of advanced physics experiments at the upper-division level. Laboratories emphasize solid state physics, in addition to atomic physics, fundamental constants, nuclear physics, and chaos. 
 Prerequisites: PHYS 240 and MATH 211.

PHYS  343 - Astrophysics (4)

An overview of astrophysics themes that includes techniques of Earth-bound observation and a selection from topics on the Solar System, stars, galaxies, and cosmology. The evolution and internal workings of astrophysical systems is discussed, along with spectroscopy, abundances of the elements, nucleosynthesis, and final stages of stellar evolution. Emphasis is on the way that physics is applied to astronomy. 
 Prerequisites: PHYS 240 and MATH 211

PHYS  350 - Physics Colloquium (1)

Weekly physics colloquium given by invited speakers on miscellaneous topics of current interest. Topics are selected from the frontiers of current physics research, as well as from exceptional historical or philosophical perspectives of the discipline. The course also includes the presentation of seminars by the students. Students may register for this course in more than one semester.

PHYS  361 - Laboratory (0)

PHYS  371 - Methods of Mathematical Physics (4)

A study of selected mathematical techniques of universal applicability across the different branches of physics. A typical selection includes advanced linear algebra, Fourier series, integral transforms, ordinary and partial differential equations, Green's functions and Sturm-Liouville theory, and complex analysis. 
Prerequisites: PHYS 240 and MATH 211

PHYS  380 - Foundations of Computational Neuroscience (4)

An introduction to the physical, mathematical, and computational concepts and techniques used to formulate biophysical models of neurons and synaptic transmissions to study the brain and neural systems. Topics include ion movement through cell membranes, single-neuron models, generation of action potentials, synapses and neurotransmitters, neuronal networks, and learning and memory. No physics, biology, or programming prerequisites.

PHYS  386 - Special Topics in Physics (4)

Topics not covered by other Physics curriculum offerings. Offered intermittently.

PHYS  398 - Directed Study for Advanced Undergraduates (1 - 4)

With the written consent of the instructor and the Department chair, a special study (of various forms and credit values) in experimental, theoretical or mathematical physics.

PHYS  399 - Directed Research for Advanced Undergraduates (1 - 4)

With the written consent of the instructor and the Department chair, a special study (of various forms and credit values) in experimental, theoretical or mathematical physics.

PHYS  410 - Advanced Classical Dynamics (4)

Advanced applications of classical nonrelativistic mechanics. Topics include a comprehensive study of the dynamics of systems of particles and rigid bodies, properties of three-dimensional rotations and tensors, coupled oscillations, and an introduction to the mechanics of continuous media (with fluid dynamics and elasticity). 
 Prerequisites: PHYS 310 and PHYS 371

PHYS  420 - Advanced Electrodynamics (4)

Advanced applications of Maxwell's equations and the dynamics of the electromagnetic field. Topics include conservation laws, electromagnetic waves (in a vacuum, in infinite linear media, and in bounded regions), optical dispersion in material media, electromagnetic radiation, and the relativistic formulation of electrodynamics. 
 Prerequisites: PHYS 320 and PHYS 371

PHYS  422 - General Relativity (4)

An introduction to Einstein's general theory of relativity as the classical field theory of gravitation. Topics include special relativity, four-dimensional spacetime, the principle of equivalence, the geometry of curved spacetime (with Riemannian geometry and tensor analysis), and the Einstein field equation. Applications are centered on astrophysical systems, black holes, and cosmology. 
 Prerequisites: PHYS 240 and MATH 211

PHYS  430 - Advanced Quantum Mechanics (4)

Advanced applications of the abstract formulation of quantum mechanics. Topics include identical particles, time-independent and time-dependent perturbation theory, the variational principle, the WKB method, the adiabatic approximation, scattering theory, and second quantization. The course ends with an introduction to the EPR paradox, Bell's theorem, and the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Prerequisites: PHYS 330 and PHYS 371 Prerequisites: PHYS 330 with a minimum grade of C and PHYS 371 with a minimum grade of C

PHYS  450 - Advanced Materials (4)

Surveys modern advanced materials; emphasis on fundamental underlying principles; semiconductors; superconductors; photonic materials; liquid crystals; polymers. Prerequisites: PHYS 240 with a minimum grade of C and MATH 211 with a minimum grade of C and concurrent PHYS 371 with a minimum grade of C

PHYS  486 - Special Topics in Physics (4)

Topics not covered by other Physics curriculum offerings. Offered intermittently.