Physics

Courses

Introductory Physics Courses

Students seeking to fulfill a core science requirement in physics should consider one of the 160-series of courses listed below.

106 - Waves

An introduction to the physics of waves with examples from optics, acoustics, and modern physics. Open to frosh and sophomores only. Includes one three-hour lab per week. Prerequisite: concurrent enrollment in a Calculus 1 course or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

110 - Introductory Mechanics

Covers classical mechanics, including kinematics and dynamics of particles and rigid bodies, conservation laws, and examination of specific force laws. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: A Calculus 2 course (may be taken concurrently); or permission of instructor. Some prior physics experience is recommended.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

115 - General Physics I

The first of a two-course introduction to physics designed for life science and premedical students. Topics include Newton's laws of motion, gravitation, work and energy, conservation laws. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Courses with multiple lecture sections may require evening examinations. Prerequisites: A Calculus 2 course (may be taken concurrently); or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

120 - Introductory Electricity and Magnetism

Introduction to electricity and magnetism, electronic circuits, electromagnetic induction, and Maxwell's Equations. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 110 or 115, and a Calculus 2 course; or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

125 - General Physics II

The second of a two-course introduction to physics designed for life science and premedical students. Topics include electrostatics and electromagnetism, electric circuits, geometrical and physical optics. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Courses with multiple lecture sections may require evening examinations. Prerequisites: Physics 110 or 115, and a Calculus 2 course; or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

The 160 Series

Designed for non-science students interested in different aspects of physical science, the courses numbered 160-169 rarely have prerequisites beyond algebra and trigonometry and many are open only to students who have not taken Physics 106, 110/115, 120/125, or their equivalents. Typically only one or two courses are offered from this series each year. The Department reserves the right to cancel classes with extremely small enrollments.

161 - Geek Toys

Exploration of physical laws and processes through simple and geeky-cool devices and demonstrations, many of which students will build themselves and keep. The toys will illuminate topics from across physics, including classical mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity, and magnetism. Course Fee: $125 Prerequisites: algebra and trigonometry, or permission of instructor. Not open to students who have completed Physics 110, 115, 120, or 125; or equivalent.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

162 - Astronomy

A survey of the solar system, stars and stellar evolution, galaxies and cosmology. Prerequisite: algebra and permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

163 - Physics as a Liberal Art

A survey of classical and modern physics with an emphasis on basic principles and their applications. Prerequisites: proficiency in high school algebra and trigonometry. Not open to students who have completed Physics 110, 115, 120, or 125; or equivalent.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

164 - Light

Identical in all respects to Physics 165 except that there is no lab component. Students attend regularly scheduled lectures for Physics 165, do the homework and take the 165 exams. Prerequisites: algebra and trigonometry, or permission of instructor. Not open to students who have completed Physics 110, 115, 120, or 125; or equivalent.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

165 - Light

An introduction to optics and modern physics for both science and non-science majors. Topics include geometrical optics, physical optics, waves, special relativity, wave-particle duality, atomic and nuclear physics. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: algebra and trigonometry, or permission of instructor. Not open to students who have completed Physics 110, 115, 120, or 125; or equivalent.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

166 - Spacetime Physics

An introduction to the theory of special relativity for both science and non-science majors. Topics include Einstein's postulates, the geometry of relativity, the Lorentz transformations, and the structure of spacetime. Prerequisites: algebra and trigonometry, or permission of instructor. Not open to students who have completed Physics 110, 115, 120, or 125; or equivalent.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

168 - Energy Conversions and Resources

This course introduces the physics of energy and energy conversions. The goal of this course is to provide students with the tools to recognize and quantify the various energy conversion processes important to society. Fundamental concepts of conservation of energy, efficiency, work and heat will be introduced during the first half of the course. These concepts will provide a framework for topical information on global energy resources (renewable and nonrenewable), energy generation systems, and societal energy demands. Prerequisites: algebra or trigonometry, or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI  

197 - Independent Study in Physics

Supervised investigation by students who have not yet completed Physics 320. Prerequisite: permission of supervising instructor and approval of department.
1 or 2 units 

240 - Modern Physics

Introduction to the physics of the twentieth century, emphasizing special relativity and elementary quantum mechanics. Includes the breakdown of classical concepts; light quanta and matter waves; Schrödinger equation and solutions in 1 and 3 dimensions; hydrogen atom, exclusion principle, and the periodic table. Other topics include a selection from atomic, nuclear, particle, and condensed-matter physics. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 106, Physics 110 or 115, and Physics 120; or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

250 - Thermal and Statistical Physics

Connects the microscopic properties of the physical world with its macroscopic properties using classical and quantum statistics. Topics include classical and quantum ideal gasses, classical thermodynamics, phase transitions, and kinetic theory. Prerequisites: Physics 106, Physics 110 or 115, and Physics 120; or permission of the instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

The 260 Series

Designed for students interested in different aspects of physical science at a deeper level than those in the 160 series, the courses numbered 260-269 are generally open to anyone who has completed Physics 120 or 125 or their equivalents. Typically only one or two courses are offered from this series each year. The Department reserves the right to cancel classes with extremely small enrollments.

261 - Simulations in Physics

An introduction to the numerical solutions of problems in physics. Applications are drawn from classical dynamics, electrostatics, magnetostatics, relativistic dynamics, and chaotic systems. Prerequisites: Physics 110 or 115; and Physics 120 or 125 (may be taken concurrently);  and Computer Science 161; or permission of instructor.

262 - Electronics

Theoretical and experimental electronics fundamental to modern research. Includes one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Physics 120 or 125; or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

263 - Measurement and Control of Instrumentation by Computer

A laboratory based course covering the C programming language, the LabWindows CVI programming environment, and the use of D/A and A/D converters. Prerequisite: Physics 120 or 125; or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: LAB-SCI

264 - History of Physics

This course will explore the interactions of physics and society through selected studies in the history of classical and modern physics. Course work will include reading and discussion of original and interpretive works, research papers, and oral presentations to the class. Prerequisites: Physics 110 or 115; and Physics 120 or 125; or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: EUROPE

265 - The Substance of Substance

An introduction to the fundamental constituents of matter and their interactions. Topics include quarks and leptons; symmetries and conservations laws; special relativity; the fundamental forces and their relationship; and the early universe. Prerequisites: Physics 110 or 115; and Physics 120 or 125 (may be taken concurrently); or permission of instructor.  

266 - Space, Time, and Black Holes

An introduction to the theory of relativity. The first half of the course, focusing on special relativity, includes discussions of the relationship between space and time; mass and energy; and cause and effect. The second half of the course presents the fundamentals of the general theory of relativity, with an emphasis on the physics of black holes.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

267 - Engineering Physics

An introduction to the field of engineering. Students who have completed either of the introductory sequences in physics are well prepared to apply that knowledge to a wide variety of subjects. Applications covered include static equilibrium, elastic properties of materials, vibrations, thermodynamics, thermal properties of matter, fluids, waves and sound, DC circuits, and AC circuits. Prerequisites: Physics 110 or 115; and Physics 120 or 125 (may be taken concurrently); or permission of instructor.

268 - Engineering Materials

A complete engineering design includes an appropriate choice of construction materials. This course will introduce the science of materials used in a wide range of typical engineering applications. As time permits, topics will include the mechanical, elastic, thermal, electrical, magnetic and environmental properties of metals, polymers, ceramics, glasses, composites,and 'green' materials. Prerequisite: Physics 120 or 125 (may be taken concurrently) or permission of instructor. Prerequisite: Physics 120 or 125.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: Mathematics/Science

269 - Special Topics in Physics I

Special topics in physics, selected largely by student interest and requiring no more than introductory physics courses. Possible topics include: variational methods, celestial mechanics, chaos, nonlinear systems. Satisfies a Physics Selective requirement.

310 - Mathematical Methods in Physics

Survey of the elements of advanced mathematical ideas and techniques typically used in physics. Physical examples and intuition will be emphasized throughout. Topics covered will include Div, Grad, and Curl; matrices, tensors, and groups; complex analysis, Fourier series and integrals; boundary and initial value problems; and special topics as time permits. Includes one ninety-minute laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 106 and 120; and Math 214 (may be taken concurrently with permission of instructor); or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI 

315 - Advanced Laboratory I

Selected experiments in modern physics. Special emphasis on research techniques, including literature search, analysis of data, and preparation of written reports. Prerequisites: Physics 240 or permission of instructor.
2 units 

316 - Advanced Laboratory II

Selected experiments in modern physics. Special emphasis on research techniques, including literature search, analysis of data, and preparation of written reports. Prerequisites: Physics 240 or permission of instructor.
2 units 

320 - Analytical Dynamics

Motion of particles, systems of particles, and rigid bodies. conservation laws; coordinate transformations, both stationary and moving; Hamilton's and Lagrange's equations. Includes one ninety-minute laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 106, Physics 120, and Math 214; or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI 

330 - Advanced Electromagnetism

Electro- and magneto-statics, Maxwell's equations, electrodynamics, boundary value problems, radiation. Includes one ninety-minute laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Physics 310 or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

340 - Quantum Mechanics

The foundations of the theory of quantum mechanics with applications to physical systems. Formal development of the postulates of quantum mechanics, representation of states, angular momentum, spin, and perturbation theory. Applications include the harmonic oscillator, hydrogen atom, and Zeeman effect. Includes one ninety-minute laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 240 or Chemistry 305, and Physics 310, or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

The 360 Series

Designed for students interested in advanced topics in physics, the courses numbered 360-369 have varying prerequisites but generally require physics beyond Physics 120/125. Typically only one or two courses are offered from this series each year. The Department reserves the right to cancel classes with extremely small enrollments.

361 - Computational Physics

Many problems in physics can be formulated (i.e., written as equations) but not solved analytically. In such cases computational techniques are often employed to solve the equations and advance our understanding of the physics. This course provides an introduction to these techniques and their use. Prerequisite: Physics 240

362 - Cosmology and Particle Physics

Particle physics and cosmology began to become intertwined around the turn of the century with the discovery of cosmic rays. This course will explore the fusion of these smallest and largest length scales. A brief introduction to particle physics and cosmology will be given followed by a discussion of current topics in this new field of astroparticle physics. Topics will include cosmic rays, big bang nucleosynthesis, structure formation, dark matter, and the cosmological constant. Prerequisite: Physics 240 or permission of instructor.

363 - Solid State Physics

An introduction to the physics of solids. Topics include free electrons, crystal structure, lattice vibrations, energy bands, and the electrical, magnetic, and optical properties of solids. Prerequisites: Physics 240 and 250 or permission of instructor.

364 - Plasma Physics

An introduction to the physics of plasma, including charged particle motion in electromagnetic fields, plasma waves, plasma confinement, and non-linear effects. These ideas will be used to understand space and ionospheric phenomena, laser-plasma interactions, containment of matter and anti-matter, and energy generation by controlled nuclear fusion. Prerequisites: Physics 120, 310, and Math 212 

365 - Subatomic Physics

Survey of the contemporary status of the quantum physics of subatomic particles and atomic nuclei. Emphasis is given to discussing and examining the fundamental constituents of matter (quarks and leptons) and the fundamental forces of nature (electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force). Topics include the classification and relationships among particles, properties of nuclei and nuclear interactions (such as fission and fusion), electroweak and quantum chromodynamic interactions, and the unification of the fundamental forces of nature. Applications to and insights derived from astrophysics and cosmology will also be included. Specific topics covered will be selected by the instructor. Prerequisites: Physics 310 and 320 (may be taken concurrently); or permission of instructor.

366 - Relativity

Review of special relativity. Introduction to the fundamentals of general relativity and gravitation, with applications to cosmology. Topics include the big bang theory, primordial nucleo-synthesis, the dark matter problem, gravitational red shift and the expansion of the universe, stellar evolution, and black holes. Prerequisite: Physics 310 or permission of instructor.
CORE REQUIREMENT MET: MATH/SCI

368 - Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

A critical analysis of the literature of nanoscience and nanotechnology. This course will examine the chemical and physical properties of quantum dots, carbon nanotubes, metal and semiconductor nanowires, and biomolecules and other nanometer scale structures useful in molecular electronics, chemical biology, and in building macroscopic structures with tailored properties from nanoscale components. Includes introductory instruction to scanning tunneling microscopy. Prerequisite: Physics 240 or Chemistry 220; or permission of instructor.

369 - Special Topics in Physics II

Special topics in physics, selected largely by student interest. Prerequisites vary with subject area. Possible topics include: group theory in physics, applications of quantum mechanics in atomic, nuclear, and particle physics, introduction to relativistic quantum mechanics, nonlinear pattern forming systems, hydrodynamic instabilities, superfluidity and superconductivity, methods of material science. Satisfies a Physics Selective requirement.

395 - Research in Physics

Research supervised by a member of the faculty. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: approval of department.
1 to 4 units

396 - Professional Internship

Off-campus participation (up to full time) in the work of a major laboratory engaged in research and development that involves pure or applied physics. The student will take part in the ongoing technical work of the laboratory under joint supervision by a member of the laboratory's professional technical staff and Occidental physics faculty. Normally, formal application to the laboratory is required, and admission may be competitive. Prerequisites: approval of department, supervising instructor, and the laboratory.
2 to 12 units 

397 - Independent Study in Physics

Supervised investigation by properly qualified students. Prerequisites: permission of supervising instructor and approval of department.
1 to 4 units 

400 - Physics Research Seminar

A seminar course in which students and faculty will make weekly oral reports describing their ongoing research projects. Prerequisite: a specific, ongoing research project.
2 units 

490 - Senior Physics Seminar I

Students will participate in weekly seminars and conduct library-based research on topics in physics. Students will present one seminar and one written report on their work. Completion of this course with a grade of C or better partially fulfills the comprehensive requirement for graduation with a degree in physics. Prerequisites: Physics 240, Physics 250 and Physics 320 or permission of instructor.
2 units 

491 - Senior Physics Seminar II

Students will participate in weekly seminars and conduct library-based research on topics in physics. Students will present one seminar and one written report on their work. Completion of this course with a grade of C or better partially fulfills the comprehensive requirement for graduation with a degree in physics. Prerequisites: Physics Physics 240, Physics 250 and Physics 320 or permission of instructor.
2 units 

499 - Honors in Physics

Supervised investigation by students admitted by the department to the Honors Program. Prerequisite: permission of supervising instructor and approval of department.
2 or 4 units

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