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Bachelor of Science in Physics

To help in deciding which introductory sequence is most suitable, students considering a major in Physics may contact the undergraduate program coordinator (elva@stanford.edu) to arrange an advising appointment. Although it is possible to complete the Physics major in three years, students who contemplate starting the major during sophomore year should make an advising appointment to map out their schedule. Students who have had previous college-level courses (including EPGY) should make an advising appointment for placement and possible transfer credit. For advanced placement advice, see http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/registrar/students/ap.

Undergraduates are offered help with physics problems in the Physics Tutoring Center in the Physics and Astrophysics Building, sub-basement, room S-17, which is staffed Monday through Friday. See schedule at http://physicstutor.stanford.edu.

  1. Prospective Physics majors are advised to take PHYSICS 59, Current Research Topics, in their freshman or sophomore year.
  2. A calculus-based entry-level series is required, either PHYSICS 61, (62), 63, 64, 65, 67, or 41, (42), 43, 44, 45, 46 (or preferably 67 rather than 44). One-unit mechanics lab courses (PHYSICS 42 and 62) are being introduced in 2010-11. The mechanics lab course is recommended for Physics majors taking the PHYSICS 40 or 60 series in 2010-11 and will be required for Physics majors taking either series in 2011-12.
    • Students who take the PHYSICS 40 series take PHYSICS 70, which covers the foundations of modern physics.
    • Students taking the PHYSICS 60 series do not take PHYSICS 70; instead, they must take one advanced Physics elective (100-level or higher).
  3. In addition, the following advanced courses are required: PHYSICS 105, 107 (WIM), 108, 110, 120, 121, 130, 131, 170, and 171; MATH 51, 52, 53, 131P (MATH 173 can be taken in place of MATH131P); one additional Mathematics course numbered 101 or higher, or PHYSICS 112 or STATS 116 or EE 261.
    • MATH 51H, 52H, and 53H may substitute for MATH 51, 52, and 53.
  4. It is recommended that students intending to complete a Ph.D. in Physics also take PHYSICS 113, 134, and one or more of the following, depending upon their interests:
    • PHYSICS 100, 152A,B, 160, 161, 172, 204, 262, APPPHYS 192, or EE 268.
    • PHYSICS 113 is designed to be taken in parallel with 110.
  5. The department advises the study of some computer science such as CS 106A,B or CS 106X.
  6. Physics and Mathematics courses taken to satisfy the department's major requirements must be taken for a letter grade, and a grade of 'C-' or better must be received for all units applied toward the major.

REQUIRED COURSES FOR MAJORS

For sample schedules illustrating how to complete the Physics major, see http://physics.stanford.edu/academics/undergrad.html.

INTRODUCTORY SEQUENCE

Students must complete either the 40 or 60 series as follows:

40 Series:

Qtr. and Units

PHYSICS 41. Mechanics

W

4

PHYSICS 42. Mechanics Lab (recommended in 2010-11; required 2011-12)

W

1

PHYSICS 43. Electricity and Magnetism

S

4

PHYSICS 44. Electricity and Magnetism Lab

S

1

PHYSICS 45. Light and Heat

A

4

PHYSICS 46. Light and Heat Lab

A

1

PHYSICS 67. Introduction to Laboratory Physics

 

 

(recommended for physics majors in place of 44)

S

2

PHYSICS 70. Foundations of Modern Physics

A

4

60 Series: Subject and Catalog Number

Qtr. and Units

PHYSICS 61. Mechanics and Special Relativity

A

4

PHYSICS 62. Mechanics Lab (recommended in 2010-11; required in 2011-12)

A

1

PHYSICS 63. Electricity, Magnetism and Waves

W

4

PHYSICS 64. Electromagnetism Lab

W

1

PHYSICS 65. Thermodynamics and Foundations of Modern Physics

S

4

PHYSICS 67. Introduction to Laboratory Physics

S

2

and

 

 

MATH 51, 52, 53. Linear Algebra, Multivariable Calculus, and Ordinary Differential Equations

 

A,W,S

 

15

PHYSICS 59. Current Research Topics (recommended)*

A

1

INTERMEDIATE SEQUENCE

PHYSICS 105. Intermediate Laboratory I: Analog Electronics

A

3

PHYSICS 107. Intermediate Laboratory II: Experimental Techniques and Data Analysis (WIM)

W

4

PHYSICS 108. Intermediate Laboratory III: Project

W or S

3

PHYSICS 110. Intermediate Mechanics

S

4

PHYSICS 112. Math Methods of Physics (recommended)**

W

4

PHYSICS 113. Computational Physics (recommended)*

S

4

PHYSICS 120,121. Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism

W,S

8

and MATH 131P or MATH 173. Partial Differential Equations

A,W

3

ADVANCED SEQUENCE

PHYSICS 130,131. Quantum Mechanics

A,W

8

PHYSICS 134. Advanced Topics in Quantum Mechanics*

S

4

PHYSICS 170,171. Statistical Mechanics

A,W

8

and one advanced Mathematics elective (101 level or higher)

or PHYSICS 112 or STATS 116 or EE 268.

One advanced Physics elective (100 level or higher):

required only for students who are not required to take PHYSICS 70

* These courses are not required. PHYSICS 113 is recommended for students planning to work in technical fields. Both PHYSICS 113 and PHYSICS 134 are recommended for students who intend to complete a Ph.D. in Physics.

** Those wishing to pursue theoretical physics in graduate school may wish to take a collection of courses in the Department of Mathematics rather than or in addition to PHYSICS 112.

CONCENTRATIONS IN PHYSICS

The primary purpose of concentrations in the Physics major is to provide consistent and more formal advising to students who want to concentrate in a particular area of physics during their undergraduate education, or prepare for future graduate studies in a particular area of physics. Physics majors are not required to choose a concentration and a concentration does not add any formal requirements to the Physics major. Upon graduation, students receive a certificate of completion of a concentration.

Students seeking further advice on a given concentration should contact the professor whose name appears next to the respective title of each section below.

No more than one of the courses can be taken for CR/NC.

Within the chosen concentration below, complete at least four courses from the list or three courses plus a senior thesis.

A. APPLIED PHYSICS (HARI MANOHARAN)

Solid State—

Biophysics—

Lasers—

Lab Methods—

B. ASTROPHYSICS (ROGER ROMANI, SARAH CHURCH)

Requirements—

Plus one elective from below or a senior thesis—

C. BIOPHYSICS (SEB DONIACH)

It is recommended that Physics majors interested in pursuing a career in biophysics consider a minor in Biology.

D. GEOPHYSICS (SIMON KLEMPERER, GEOPHYSICS)

The Geophysics Department has revamped its offerings beginning 2010-11. The following requirements apply to students matriculating 2010-11 or later:

Requirements—

Plus one elective from below or a senior thesis—

Physics majors matriculating prior to 2010-11 who wish to complete a concentration in Geophysics should consult Prof. Klemperer.

E. THEORETICAL PHYSICS (ANDREI LINDE)

Notes to students taking this concentration:

  1. Students should discuss the choice of courses with members of the Institute for Theoretical Physics and/or their major adviser.
  2. Students may attend 330 after taking 130, 131 and 134. Prior study of special topics in quantum mechanics (232) may be helpful.

INDIVIDUALLY DESIGNED MAJOR PROGRAM IN TEACHING PHYSICAL SCIENCE

This major, a joint effort of the Department of Physics and the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), is designed for students to prepare themselves as high school teachers of physics and general science. Students complete 47-49 units of Physics and related Mathematics courses, 40-43 units of course work in other sciences such as the life sciences, chemistry, and geosciences, and in general issues of science, and 9-15 units of concentration and depth courses. Total program units: 96-107. Students interested in this program should consult Professor Patricia Burchat (burchat@stanford.edu, 725-5771), and Professor Rachel Lotan, Director of the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) in the School of Education (rlotan@stanford.edu).

CORE PHYSICS COURSES

Mechanics:

Units

PHYSICS 41. Mechanics

 

PHYSICS 42. Mechanics Lab

 

or PHYSICS 61. Mechanics and Special Relativity

PHYSICS 62. Mechanics Lab

5

Heat:

PHYSICS 45. Light and Heat

 

PHYSICS 46. Light and Heat Lab

 

or

 

PHYSICS 65. Thermodynamics and Foundations of Modern Physics

 

PHYSICS 67. Introduction to Laboratory Physics

5-6

Electricity and Magnetism:

PHYSICS 43. Electricity and Magnetism

 

PHYSICS 67. Introduction to Laboratory Physics

 

or

 

PHYSICS 63. Electricity, Magnetism, and Waves

 

PHYSICS 64. Electricity and Magnetism Lab

 

and

 

PHYSICS 105. Analog Electronics (Lab)

8-9

Wave Motion:

PHYSICS 107 Intermediate Physics Laboratory II:
Experimental Techniques and Data Analysis (WIM)

4

Modern Physics (for students who take 40 series):

PHYSICS 70. Foundations of Modern Physics

4

Applications:

PHYSICS 59. Current Research Topics

1

Mathematics (Physics departmental requirement):

MATH 51,52,53. Linear Algebra, Multivariable Calculus,
and Ordinary Differential Equations
and a course in Statistics (choose one):

 

STATS 110. Statistical Methods in Engineering and the Physical Sciences

 

STATS 116. Theory of Probability

 

STATS 141. Biostatistics

 

STATS 166. Computational Biology

 

STATS 191. Introduction to Applied Statistics

20

Total

47-49

ADDITIONAL SCIENCE BREADTH COURSES

Life Sciences

BIO 41. Genetics, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology

 

BIO 42. Cell Biology and Animal Physiology

 

BIO 43. Plant Biology, Evolution and Ecology

 

or

 

HUMBIO 2A,B, 3A,B, 4A,B

15

Chemistry

CHEM 31A and B, or 31X. Chemical Principles

 

CHEM 33. Structure and Reactivity

8

Geosciences

EARTHSYS 10. Introduction to Earth Systems

 

PHYSICS 15. The Nature of the Universe

 

or PHYSICS 16. Cosmic Horizon

 

or PHYSICS 17. Black Holes

8

General Issues of Science

STS 101. Science, Technology, and Contemporary Society

 

EDUC 180. Directed Reading in History of Science

 

ENGR 103. Public Speaking and Presentation Development

9-12

Concentration and Depth Courses

3 courses (100 level or above) in a single area of concentration

9-15

Total units for general science

49-58

Total units for the Physical Science program

96-107

This individually designed major program in Physical Science includes all the elements of a Program of Subject Matter Preparation for Secondary Teachers of Physics and General Science that has been approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC). Students who complete the program are exempt from taking the CSET examination in Physics and General Science for admission to the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) or any other accredited secondary teacher education program in California. Full details of the CCTC-approved program may be found at http://ed.stanford.edu/suse/programs-degrees/program-coterminal-step.html.

Note: the Stanford individually designed major program in Physical Science requires course work beyond the CCTC-approved program, specifically 9-15 units of depth courses in a field of concentration: Physics, Astrophysics, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Human Biology, or Computational Mathematics. See the adviser in the Physics department or the School of Education for more details.

SENIOR THESIS

The department offers students the opportunity to complete a senior thesis. These are the guidelines:

  1. Students must submit a Senior Thesis Application once they identify a Physics project, either theoretical or experimental, in consultation with individual faculty members. Proposal forms are available from the undergraduate coordinator and must be submitted by the end of the week prior to the November Thanksgiving break of the academic year in which the student plans to graduate.
  2. Credit for the project is assigned by the adviser within the framework of PHYSICS 205. A minimum of 3 units of PHYSICS 205 must be completed for a letter grade during the senior year. Work completed in the senior thesis program may not be used as a substitute for regular required courses for the Physics major.
  3. A written report and a presentation of the work at its completion are required for the senior thesis. By mid-May, the senior thesis candidate is required to present the project at the department's senior thesis presentations. This event is publicized and open to the general public. The expectation is that the student's adviser, second reader, and all other senior thesis candidates attend.

HONORS PROGRAM

Students are granted a Bachelor of Science in Physics with Honors if they satisfy these requirements:

  1. The student files for entry into the honors program by completing an Honors Program Application (available from the undergraduate coordinator) by the end of the week prior to the November Thanksgiving break of the academic year in which the student plans to graduate; this is the same deadline as the Senior Thesis Application. Eligibility must be confirmed by the department.
  2. The student completes a senior thesis by meeting the deadlines and requirements described above.
  3. The student completes their course work with an overall GPA of 3.30 or higher, and a GPA of 3.50 or higher in courses required for the Physics major.

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