Facebook Pixel Physics Courses | Western Kentucky University Skip to main content

Physics Course Descriptions


The following Physics (PHYS) course descriptions have been copied from the 2017-18 WKU Undergraduate Catalog.  

Jump To:

 

NON-SCIENCE MAJORS

These courses do not count toward physics major credit.

PHYS 100. ENERGY. (3)
A one-semester survey of the concepts of energy applicable to the understanding of energy in our environment. Topics covered are the nature of energy, sources, transmission, consumption, energy and the environment, and prospects for the future. Experiments will be conducted as part of the classroom work. Colonnade E-NS | NS

PHYS 101. CONCEPTS OF MOTION. (3)
A one-semester introduction to motion and matter. Topics include the analysis of motion, Newton’s Laws of motion, work, energy, the structure and properties of solids, liquids and gases, wave motion and sound. Laboratory experiments are an integral part of this course. Colonnade E-NS (SL) | NS | SL

PHYS 103. LIGHT, COLOR AND VISION. (3)
A descriptive account of the nature and properties of light, color and the process of seeing including descriptions of some important optical instruments, such as the eye, the camera and the telescope. Laboratory experiments are an integral part of the course. Course Fee | Colonnade E-NS (SL) | NS | SL

PHYS 105. CONCEPTS OF THE PHYSICAL WORLD. (3)
A one-semester introduction to the concepts of physics for students planning to teach in elementary and middle schools. Topics include structure and properties of matter, mechanics, electricity, magnetism, heat, light and sound. Laboratory experiments are an integral part of this course.

PHYS 130. ACOUSTICS OF MUSIC AND SPEECH. (3)
The fundamental laws of mechanics and wave motion are studied with particular emphasis being placed upon their application to the production and control of music and speech. Laboratory experiments and field trips are an integral part of the course. Does not count toward credit for the physics major or minor. Colonnade E-NS (SL) | NS | SL

SCIENCE AND MATH MAJORS AND MINORS

PHYS 140. FOUNDATIONS OF PHYSICS. (3)
Corequisite: Math 118 or consent of instructor. Preparatory course for calculus-based physics. Reasoning, analysis, and problem-solving are developed through introduction to important topics in physics, including relativity, quantum mechanics, and atomic physics. Basic physics concepts such as motion, energy, and waves are also introduced. Does not count towards a major or minor in physics.

PHYS 175. UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE FOR PHYSICS MAJORS. (2)
Prerequisite: For beginning college freshmen or transfer students with less than 24 hours of degree credit. Transition to university experience. Topics include study skills, critical thinking skills, library education, exploration of majors and careers, degree programs, campus resources and personal development. Issues specific to physics majors, degree requirements, specializations within physics, career trends and resources are addressed.

PHYS 180. INTRODUCTORY MODERN PHYSICS. (3)
Prerequisite: MATH 117 or 118. Corequisite: PHYS 181. A survey of the physics revolution responsible for laptop computers, fiber optics, and nuclear power. Follows the change in physical theory from the 1870’s through the 1920’s, from geometrical optics and thermodynamics through the theories of relativity and the basic ideas behind quantum mechanics. Colonnade E-NS | NS

PHYS 181. INTRODUCTORY MODERN PHYSICS LABORATORY. (1)
Prerequisite: MATH 117 or 118. Corequisite: PHYS 180. Required for students enrolled in PHYS 180. Laboratory experience focusing on applications of optics, thermodynamics, the structure and behavior of atoms, wavelike properties of particles, and quantization of light, charge and energy. Course Fee | Colonnade E- SL | SL

PHYS 201. COLLEGE PHYSICS I. (4)
Prerequisites: High School algebra, geometry and right triangle trigonometry. An introductory course for students majoring in the applied sciences, emphasizing the application of basic physics principles through problem solving. Topics covered include mechanics, heat and thermodynamics, properties of matter and waves. Includes both lecture and laboratory components. (No calculus is used). Colonnade E-NS (SL) | NS | SL

PHYS 202. COLLEGE PHYSICS II. (4)
Prerequisite: PHYS 201. Corequisite: PHYS 208 (Course and laboratory must be taken together or dropped together.) A continuation of PHYS 201. The following topics are covered: electrostatics, electric field strength, electric potential difference, resistance, capacitance, DC circuits, magnetism, electromagnetic induction, electromechanical devices, simple AC circuits, reflection, refraction, geometrical optics, physical optics, interference and diffraction. Includes both lecture and laboratory components. (No calculus is used).

PHYS 215. SEMINAR FOR PHYSICS LEARNING ASSISTANTS. (1)
Prerequisites: A college level physics course and acceptance to serve as a learning assistant or permission of instructor. Introduces students to basic theory and practical skills for assisting instructors as learning assistants in active-engagement physics courses.

PHYS 227. ENGINEERING STATICS. (3)
Corequisite: MATH 237. Study of external forces acting on particles and rigid bodies in equilibrium including force systems in two and three dimensions, distributed loading, applications to trusses, beams, frames and cables using vector algebra. Also covers centroids and moments of inertia. Equivalent to MET 227.

PHYS 231. INTRODUCTION TO PHYSICS AND BIOPHYSICS I. (3)
Prerequisites: High school algebra and geometry. Corequisite: PHYS 232 (Course and laboratory must be taken together or dropped together.) The first half of a basic course for students of the life sciences, covering the topics of mechanics, heat and thermodynamics, properties of matter, waves and sound. Emphasis is on an understanding of the physical principles operative in biological systems and on the application of physical methods in biology and medicine.

PHYS 232. LABORATORY FOR PHYSICS AND BIOPHYSICS I. (1)
Corequisite: PHYS 231. Required for students enrolled in 231. Students perform physics experiments on mechanics, fluids, sound, heat and thermodynamics. Course Fee

PHYS 233. LABORATORY FOR PHYSICS AND BIOPHYSICS II. (1)
Corequisite: PHYS 332. Required for students enrolled in 332. Students perform physics experiments in electricity, magnetism and optics. Course Fee

PHYS 255. UNIVERSITY PHYSICS I. (4)
Prerequisite: MATH 136 with a grade of Cor better. Corequisites: MATH 137 and PHYS 256. This is the first half of a year- long course in calculus-based physics suggested for students in the physical sciences and mathematics. Definitions, concepts, and problem solving will be emphasized. Topics include kinematics, dynamics, energy, conservation laws, rotation, harmonic motion, mechanical waves and thermodynamics. Colonnade E- NS | NS

PHYS 256. UNIVERSITY PHYSICS I LAB. (1)
Corequisite: PHYS 255. Required for students enrolled in PHYS 255. Students perform physics experiments in mechanics and thermodynamics which stress the fundamental definitions and laws developed in the lecture course. Students gain experience in computerized data acquisition and data analysis using modern techniques and equipment. Course Fee | Colonnade E-SL | SL

PHYS 265. UNIVERSITY PHYSICS II. (4)
Prerequisites: PHYS 255 and MATH 137, both with grades of C or better. Corequisite: PHYS 266. This is the second half of a year-long course in calculus-based physics suggested for students in the physical sciences and mathematics. Definitions, concepts, and problem solving will be emphasized. Topics include electricity and magnetism, (electrical and magnetic fields, forces, energy, potential, charged particle motion, induction, and circuits), sound waves and optics.

PHYS 266. UNIVERSITY PHYSICS II LABORATORY. (1)
Prerequisites: PHYS 255 and MATH 137. Corequisite: PHYS 265. Required for students enrolled in PHYS 265. Students perform physics experiments in electricity and magnetism, waves and optics which stress the fundamental definitions and laws developed in the lecture course. Students gain experience in computerized data acquisition and data analysis using modern techniques and equipment. Course Fee

PHYS 270. UNIVERSITY PHYSICS III. (3)
Prerequisite: MATH 136 or equivalent. Corequisites: PHYS 271 and MATH 137 or equivalent (Course and laboratory must be taken together or dropped together.) This is the third course in the general physics sequence suggested for students in the physical sciences and mathematics. Topics include fluids (hydrostatics and hydrodynamics), thermodynamics, vibrations, wave motion, sound, physical optics (interference, diffraction and polarization), and geometrical optics (reflection, refraction, and image formation).

PHYS 271. LABORATORY FOR UNIVERSITY PHYSICS III. (1)
Corequisites: PHYS 270 and MATH 137 or equivalent. Required for students enrolled in PHYS 270. Students perform physics experiments on elasticity, mechanics of fluids, heat, thermodynamics, ideal gases, simple harmonic motion, sound and optics. Students gain experience in computerized data acquisition and data analysis using modern techniques and equipment.

PHYS 295. INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODOLOGY. (1)
Prerequisite: Ogden Research Scholar, or 3.2 grade point average at the end of freshman year, or Ogden College faculty member recommendation. To familiarize Ogden Research Scholars and other research oriented students with the fundamentals of choosing a research topic, performing a bibliographical search on a subject, topic, classification of instruments, data taking, data reduction, professional ethics and other research oriented topics. The common points of research methodology in the different scientific areas will be accentuated. Examples will be drawn from the various disciplines. Use of computers will be emphasized. (Course does not count towards any major or minor.) Equivalent to BIOL 295, CHEM 295, CS 295, ENGR 295, GEOL 295, and MATH 295.

PHYS 299. RESEARCH EXPERIENCE. (1-3)
Prerequisites: MATH 117 or equivalent; and PHYS 180 or PHYS 201 or PHYS 231 or PHYS 255; and permission of the instructor. Individual or group research project carried out under direct faculty supervision. A faculty approved public presentation is required. Course may be repeated for a maximum of 3 hours.

PHYS 332. INTRODUCTION TO PHYSICS AND BIOPHYSICS II. (3)
Prerequisite: PHYS 231. Corequisite: PHYS 233 (Course and laboratory must be taken together or dropped together.) The second half of a basic course for students of the life sciences, covering the topics of electricity, magnetism, light optics, atomic and nuclear physics. Emphasis is on an understanding of the physical principles operative in biological systems and on the application of physical methods in biology and medicine.

PHYS 359. CLINICAL OPTICS. (4)
Prerequisites: PHYS 332, 233. The optics of the human eye and of corrective lenses for common eye defects.

PHYS 379. NANOTECHNOLOGY IN BIOPHYSICS AND MEDICINE. (4)
Prerequisites PHYS 332, 233 or PHYS 265, 266. The physics of nanostructures and their bio-medical applications.

EDUCATION MAJORS AND MINORS

PHYS 312. LABORATORY PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE. (1)
Prerequisite: PHYS 270. A course to assist prospective high school physics teachers in being able to plan, design, equip and teach a high school physics laboratory.

PHYS 325. CURRENT PROGRAMS IN PHYSICS. (3)
Prerequisite: One year of college physics. A systematic study of several current systems of organizing and presenting introductory physics. The prospective teacher will become familiar with various program materials, and will explore the history and philosophy of physics. The student will compare these systems and consider adapting them to different classroom situations.

PHYS 410. PHYSICS FOR TEACHERS. (3)
Prerequisite: PHYS 201 or PHYS 231 or PHYS 255. A broad study, including laboratory experiences, of the areas of physics relevant to science teaching in grades K-12. For pre-service or in-service teachers who have a minimal physics background. Instruction will be differentiated according to student needs. Applicable toward a major or minor in physics only for those students obtaining teacher certification.

DEPARTMENTAL MAJORS AND MINORS

PHYS 301. ELECTRICAL MEASUREMENTS LABORATORY. (1)
Prerequisites: PHYS 265 and 266. Laboratory experiments in fundamental techniques of electrical measurements. Course Fee

PHYS 302. ATOMIC PHYSICS LABORATORY. (1)
Prerequisite: PHYS 321. Fundamental experiments of historical importance in modern physics.

PHYS 303. ELECTRONICS LABORATORY. (1)
Corequisite: PHYS 340. Required for students enrolled in PHYS 340. Laboratory experiments in basic techniques of analog and digital electronics.

PHYS 316. COMPUTATIONAL PHYSICS. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 265 or permission of the instructor. Use of computers to solve physics problems, model physical systems, and analyze data. Topics include: simulating realistic motion, data analysis, Fourier transform, solutions to Laplace’s equation, and Monte Carlo methods.

PHYS 318. DATA ACQUISITION USING LABVIEW. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 265 or permission of the instructor. A study of computer-assisted measurement and automation techniques. Students receive hands-on experience in measuring and controlling physical phenomena through laboratory exercises and projects. Recognized as a LabVIEW Academy course by National Instruments. Offers students the opportunity to become certified LabVIEW associate developers. Course Fee

PHYS 320. INTRODUCTORY MODERN PHYSICS I. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 270 or equivalent; MATH 136 or equivalent. Corequisite: MATH 137. An introductory study of the breakdown of classical physics at the atomic level (quantization) and at high speeds (relativity). Emphasis is placed upon observable effects of the interaction between matter and radiation and the new theories created to explain these effects. The topics include elements of special relativity; particle-like behavior of radiation; wave-like behavior of particles; the hydrogen spectrum and the Bohr theory; elements of quantum mechanics; magnetic properties of atoms and electron spin; the periodic table; spectra of hydrogen-like atoms; and other selected topics of modern physics.

PHYS 321. INTRODUCTORY MODERN PHYSICS II. (3)
Prerequisites: CHEM 120/121 and MATH 237. A study of the quantization phenomena describing the many electron atoms; statistical distribution laws, conductivity, superconductivity and band theory of solids; nuclear structure, nuclear reactions and other selected topics of modern physics.

PHYS 330. THERMODYNAMICS. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 321, MATH 237 and 331. A study of thermodynamic systems, equations of state, entropy, Maxwell- Bolzmann and quantum statistics.

PHYS 335. GENERAL BIOPHYSICS. (4) [(3) LECTURE; (1) LAB.]
Prerequisites: PHYS 231, 332; BIOL 120 / 121; or permission of instructor. An introduction to the major fields of biophysics in quantitative terms, with emphasis on the physical techniques applied in biomedical practice and research.

PHYS 337. MEDICAL IMAGING. (4)
Prerequisites: BIOL 120, MATH 136, and PHYS 332 or PHYS 265. An introduction to the fundamental and quantitative principles underlying major medical imaging techniques.

PHYS 340. CIRCUIT THEORY AND ELECTRONICS. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 265, 301; MATH 137. Corequisite: PHYS 303. This course is suitable for all science majors who will use electronic devices in their work. It is a study of circuit analysis, active devices (such as diodes, transistors, silicon controlled rectifiers) and integrated circuits. Particular emphasis is placed on design and use of simple power supplies, transistor circuits, and operational amplifier circuits.

PHYS 350. CLASSICAL MECHANICS I. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 265. Prerequisites or corequisites: MATH 331 and MATH 237. A study of classical mechanics including equations of motion, coordinate systems, the simple harmonic oscillator, damping forces, vector algebra, momentum and energy theorems.

PHYS 389. PRACTICUM IN PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY. (3-6)
Practical experience in a supervised work situation. Application of basic knowledge and skills from the student’s major discipline or area of career interest, with opportunities in learning the social, psychological, cultural and communication aspects of work. The student is placed under the direction of a supervisor of a cooperating business, industry, agency or institution. Includes specific, learning objectives and evaluation of the student using one or more of the following formats: (1) written reports, (2) seminar presentations, or (3) tests over selected readings. May be repeated with departmental approval.

PHYS 398. JUNIOR SEMINAR. (0.5)
Prerequisites: PHYS 321 and PHYS 350. Weekly seminar series in current topics in physics. Each student will also prepare for and take a comprehensive examination in physics.

PHYS 399. RESEARCH PROBLEMS IN PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY. (1-3)
Prerequisite: PHYS 321. Assigned reading or research for qualified undergraduates. May be repeated with change of content, but only three hours will count toward a major.

PHYS 404. OPTICS LABORATORY. (1)
Corequisite: PHYS 441. Required laboratory for students enrolled in PHYS 441. Fundamental laboratory experiments in geometrical and physical optics.

PHYS 406. LAB / SOLID STATE. (1)
Corequisite: PHYS 460. Fundamental lab experiments in solid state physics.

PHYS 407. NUCLEAR PHYSICS LAB. (1)
Corequisite: PHYS 470. Fundamental lab experiments in nuclear physics.

PHYS 425. PHYSICS OF MATERIALS SCIENCE. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 321, MATH 237. Corequisites: PHYS 440, MATH 331. This course investigates the fundamental quantum physics of bonding, energetics and structure that underpins the foundation of the physics of materials. The physical properties of nanomaterials and their corresponding applications will be explored using the principles of quantum physics. Materials examined include engineered metal alloys, electronic and magnetic materials, ionic and network solids, ceramics, polymers, and biomaterials at all length scales.

PHYS 431. RADIATION BIOPHYSICS (4) [(2) LECTURE; (2) LAB.]
Prerequisites: PHYS 201-202 or PHYS 231-332. A treatment of the properties of the various forms of radiation and their interaction with, and effects on, living matter. The laboratory offers training in the monitoring of ionizing radiations and in the techniques of radioactive isotopes as applied in biological and clinical work.

PHYS 440. ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM I. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 350 and MATH 237 and 331. A study of classical electricity and magnetism with emphasis on fields, potentials, conductors, dielectrics, steady currents and radiation.

PHYS 441. OPTICS. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 180 and 265 and MATH 137. Corequisite: PHYS 404. A study of geometrical and physical optics including wave propagation, refraction, dispersion, diffraction and polarization.

PHYS 445. ELECTROMAGNETISM II. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 440. The study of classical electrodynamics with emphasis on Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic waves, dispersion, and radiation.

PHYS 450. CLASSICAL MECHANICS II. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 350 and MATH 237 and 331. A study of rigid body motion, moving coordinate systems, Lagrange’s equations, small vibrations and the special theory of relativity as applied to mechanics.

PHYS 460. SOLID STATE PHYSICS. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 321, MATH 237 and 331. Corequisite: PHYS 406. An introductory course in the theory of solids including geometrical and x-ray crystallography, Maxwell-Boltzmann and Fermi-Dirac statistics, free electron theory of metals, Brillouin Zones, band-model of semiconductors and the Hall Effect.

PHYS 465. GEOPHYSICS. (3)
Prerequisites: GEOL 111 and one year of college physics or permission of the instructor. The basic fundamentals of general and exploration geophysics. The initial topics discussed include the origin of the earth and the solar system, the earth’s interior, geochronology, gravity and isostasy, seismology, the earth’s heat, geomagnetism, upper atmosphere, continents and ocean basins, ridges and island arcs, and continental drift. The theory and applications of exploration geophysics are also covered, especially gravity, magnetic and seismic methods. Equivalent to GEOL 465.

PHYS 470. NUCLEAR PHYSICS. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 302, 321 and MATH 331. Corequisite: PHYS 407. The properties of the nucleus including radioactivity, radiation detectors, nuclear reactions, nuclear mass and size determination, alpha, beta, and gamma decay, nuclear models, particle accelerators, fission and elementary particles.

PHYS 475. SELECTED TOPICS IN PHYSICS. (1-3)
Prerequisites: Senior standing and permission of the instructor. Each topic is a course in directed study under the supervision of a faculty member. Available for full credit in subsequent sessions with change of content.

PHYS 480. QUANTUM MECHANICS. (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 321, 350, MATH 237; and one of the following: PHYS 440, 450 or MATH 435. A study of the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics including the hydrogen and helium atoms, the harmonic oscillator, and the Schrödinger wave equation.

PHYS 489. INTERNSHIP IN PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY. (3-6)
(May be repeated with department approval.) Practical experience in a supervised work situation. Application of advanced knowledge and skills from the student’s major discipline or area of career interest, with opportunities in learning the social, psychological, cultural, and communication aspects of work. The student is placed under the direction of a supervisor of a cooperating business industry, agency or institution. Includes specific learning objectives and evaluation of student using one or more of the following formats: (1) written reports, (2) seminar presentations, or (3) tests over selected readings.

PHYS 498. SENIOR SEMINAR. (.5)
Prerequisite: PHYS 398. Weekly seminar series in current topics in physics. Each student will also prepare and give an oral presentation of current research in physics.


 A community of faculty, staff, and students engaged in better understanding the physical world. 


Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 3/26/18