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Astronomy  |  Physics  |  Schedule of Courses by Semester

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Astronomy

ASTR 1030 - Exploring the Universe
3 credit hours

A general introduction to astronomy through an overview of planets, stars, systems of stars, and the overall structure of the universe. Topics will be discussed by answering questions such as "How do you weigh stars?" and "Will the universe die?"

ASTR 1031 - Observing the Universe
1 credit hour credit

Prerequisite or corequisite: ASTR 1030. Introduction to observational astronomy through laboratory exercises and outdoor observing activities. Topics include telescopes, the analysis of starlight, and observations of stars and planets.

ASTR 2030 - Solar System Astronomy
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: MATH 1710. Comprehensive study of the solar system including models of solar and planetary formation. Analysis of the chemical makeup and physical nature of the Sun, planets, moons, and comets using mathematics and the scientific method. Focus on planetary interiors, surfaces, atmospheres, solar-planetary interactions, and solar system evolution. Discussion of spacecraft missions, future solar system exploration, and possibilities of extraterrestrial life.

ASTR 2040 - Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: MATH 1710. A comprehensive study of stellar, galactic, and cosmological astronomy. Analyzes the basic theories of stellar and galactic formation and evolution using mathematics and the scientific method. Includes the cataclysmic topics of supernovae, neutron stars, pulsars, and black holes as well as the nature of galaxies including the Milky Way galaxy, active galaxies and quasars, and the formation and evolution of our universe, the big bang theory, and the possibility of other life in the universe.

ASTR 3050 - Directed Study in Astronomy
1 to 4 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2120 and approval of department chair. Individualized intensive study of a specific topic in astronomy or astrophysics not normally covered  in the standard undergraduate physics and astronomy curriculum. Arrangements must be made with an approved faculty member prior to registration.

ASTR 3400 - Fundamentals of Astrophysics
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2120 and MATH 1910. Modern astronomical knowledge and techniques using classical and modern physical principles. Possible topics include star formation, black holes and neutron stars, galaxy structure and evolution, formation of planetary systems, and large-scale structure of the universe.

ASTR 3401 - Experimental Astronomy
1 credit hour credit

Prerequisites: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2120 or consent of instructor. Principles and techniques of astronomical data acquisition and reduction. Possible research topics involve photometry, spectroscopy, astronomical applications of electronic detectors, and computer modeling.

ASTR 4800 - Special Topics in Astronomy
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 3100 and PHYS 3150 or approval of department chair. In-depth, organized study of a contemporary topic of interest not normally covered in the undergraduate physics and astronomy curriculum. Possible topics include planetary geology, radio astronomy, stellar atmospheres or interiors, space physics, pulsating stars, dark matter and energy, galactic evolution, and general relativity and cosmology.

ASTR 4850 - Astronomy Research
2 credit hours

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Independent study of a selected research problem in astronomy. Includes experimental and/or theoretical investigation of an important yet unexplored problem or experimental design. Includes literature research and experimental design/problem formulation and execution resulting in oral and written presentation of results suitable for submission/presentation to a suitable journal/conference. One hour lecture and significant additional time working with research mentor.

ASTR 4900 - Astronomy Senior Thesis
2 credit hours

Prerequisites: ASTR 4850 and consent of department chair. Focuses on a specific research/experimental design problem chosen with the consent of the thesis committee and with the potential for original discovery or for creative development of a tool, technique, or instrumentation applicable to scientific research. Independent pursuit of research objectives outlined in a research proposal results in a written thesis, the approval of which will include an oral defense. One hour lecture and independent writing of thesis.

Physics

PHYS 1010 - Physics Colloquium
1 credit hour credit

Introduces new physics and astronomy students to the physics major. Topics include degree requirements, faculty resources, research opportunities, and career options. Half of the meetings will involve one hour lectures during class, and half will involve attending talks, some of which may occur outside the scheduled class meeting time.

PHYS 1110 - Discovering Physics
4 credit hours

Prerequisite: MATH 1710, MATH 1730, or MATH 1630. Uncovers the fundamental concepts of physics in a hands-on approach that involves observations, measurements, forming hypotheses, and validation of ideas in groups of students' peers. Combined lecture/laboratory sessions.

PHYS 1600 - Physics of Music
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: MATH 1710 or MATH 1730 or MATH 1910 or consent of instructor. The physics of music, acoustics, and sound for students without prior physics background.

PHYS 2010 - Non-Calculus-Based Physics I
0 credit hours

Prerequisite: MATH 1710 with a minimum grade of C (2.0) or MATH 1730 or MATH 1910. Required corequisite: PHYS 2011. Web-based discussion class to be taken in conjunction with cooperative-learning based problems lab PHYS 2011. Classical mechanics traditionally covered in a first-semester college physics course. Kinematics, forces, momentum, angular motion, calorimetry, and sound waves. Class time used for discussion of the Web-lecture material and for the administration of exams.

PHYS 2011 - Physics Problems Laboratory I
4 credit hours

Prerequisite: MATH 1710 with a minimum grade of C (2.0) or MATH 1730 or MATH 1910. Required corequisite: PHYS 2010. Group-oriented problems course taken in conjunction with the Web-based discussion class PHYS 2010. Students work in groups with the topics presented in the PHYS 2010 discussion class. Covers kinematics, forces, momentum, angular motion, calorimetry, and sound waves. Skills associated with the development of experimental investigations including graphical analysis and estimation of uncertainties emphasized. Two two-and-one-half-hour laboratory sessions.

PHYS 2020 - Non-Calculus-Based Physics II
0 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 2011. Required corequisite: PHYS 2021. Web-based discussion class taken in conjunction with the cooperative-learning based problems lab PHYS 2021. Fundamentals of optics, modern physics, and electronics traditionally covered in a second-semester college physics course. Reflection and refraction, vision, diffraction effects, quantum mechanics, atomic and nuclear physics, and analog and digital electronics. Scheduled class time is used for discussions of the Web-lecture material and for the administration of exams.

PHYS 2021 - Physics Problems Laboratory II
4 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 2011. Required corequisite: PHYS 2020. Group-oriented problems course to be taken in conjunction with the Web-based discussion class PHYS 2020. Students work in groups with the topics presented in the PHYS 2020 discussion class. Optics, modern physics, and electronics traditionally covered in a second-semester college physics course. Reflection and refraction, vision, diffraction effects, quantum mechanics, atomic and nuclear physics, and analog and digital electronics. The skills associated with the development of experimental investigations including graphical analysis and estimation of uncertainties emphasized. Two two-and-one-half-hour laboratory sessions.

PHYS 2110 - Calculus-Based Physics I
0 credit hours

Prerequisite: MATH 1910 with a minimum grade of C (2.0). Corequisite: PHYS 2111. A calculus-based introduction to mechanics and wave motion. One and one-half hours lecture.

PHYS 2111 - Calculus-Based Physics Laboratory I
4 credit hours

Prerequisite: MATH 1910 with a minimum grade of C (2.0). Corequisite: PHYS 2110. Laboratory course to accompany PHYS 2110. Experiments in mechanics, waves, and thermodynamics. Data reduction, error analysis, and report writing. Two three-hour sessions.

PHYS 2120 - Calculus-Based Physics II
0 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 2111; MATH 1920 with a minimum grade of C (2.0). Required corequisite: PHYS 2121. A lecture course that supplements the discussion in PHYS 2121. Topics include a microscopic view of electrical force and field, polarization, electric circuits, magnetic force and field, electric potential, symmetries of fields, Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic radiation, optics, and wave phenomena. One and one-half hours lecture.

PHYS 2121 - Calculus-Based Physics Laboratory II
4 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 2111; MATH 1920 with a minimum grade of C (2.0). Required corequisite: PHYS 2120. A laboratory-based course to accompany PHYS 2120. Includes discussions, group problem solving, and hands-on activities. Two three-hour sessions.

PHYS 3000 - Acoustics and Signal Analysis
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 1600 and MATH 1910. Detailed overview of acoustics including an introduction to digital signals and their analysis. Application areas include architectural, musical, and environmental acoustics. Intended for students interested in the technical side of the music industry.

PHYS 3050 - Directed Study in Physics
1 to 4 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2120 and approval of department chair. Individualized intensive study of a specific topic in physics not normally covered to the extent desired in the standard curriculum. Arrangements must be made with an approved faculty member prior to registration.

PHYS 3070 - Concepts in Modern Physics I
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2121 and MATH 1920. Introduction to the concepts of twentieth-century physics. Discusses fundamental concepts of modern physics including relativity, atomic physics, wave optics, and quantum mechanics. Not intended to prepare students for graduate school in physics.

PHYS 3080 - Concepts in Modern Physics II
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 3070 or PHYS 3100. Introduction to the concepts of twentieth-century physics. Discusses the fundamental concepts of modern physics including molecular physics, statistical distributions, solid state physics, and nuclear particle physics. Not intended to prepare students for graduate school in physics.

PHYS 3100 - Modern Physics I
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2120 and MATH 1920 with a minimum grade of C (2.0). Introduction to the fundamental principles of modern physics (special relativity and quantum mechanics) and their application to atomic physics.

PHYS 3110 - Modern Physics II
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 3100. Survey of major topics including molecular physics, statistical physics, solid state physics and solid state devices, nuclear models, nuclear decay and reaction, and elementary particle physics.

PHYS 3111 - Modern Physics Laboratory
1 credit hour credit

Prerequisite or corequisite:  PHYS 3110. Concepts and ideas which formed the basis for an understanding of the atom and atomic phenomena. One hour lecture and one three-hour independent study laboratory.

PHYS 3150 - Topics and Methods of Theoretical Physics I
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2121 and MATH 1920 with a minimum grade of C (2.0). Theoretical techniques used for problem solving in physics. Reference frames and coordinate systems, approximation techniques, solution of electrical circuits and mechanical systems, simple harmonic motion and wave motion, Maxwell's equations.

PHYS 3160 - Topics and Methods of Theoretical Physics II
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 3150. A continuation of PHYS 3150. The Schroedinger equation, heat flow, diffusion, the Lagrangian description of motion.

PHYS 3200 - Scientific Modeling and Problem Solving
2 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2121 and MATH 1920 or consent of instructor. Techniques of computational physics as applied to the solution of scientific problems.

PHYS 3300 - Classical Mechanics
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 3150 (or PHYS 2120 and MATH 3120). Mechanics (including statics and dynamics) of particles in three dimensions using vector analysis, motion of rigid bodies, Lagrangian mechanics, and Hamilton's equations.

PHYS 3310 - Concepts and Applications of Digital Electronics
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2121 or ET 3610. Investigates applications of modern digital technology. Fundamentals of logic gates and programmable devices examined along with contemporary integrated circuits for use in data acquisition and the control of scientific experiments. Sound cards, alarm systems, and laboratory measurement circuits typify projects constructed in the hands-on laboratory. Two hours lecture and one three-hour laboratory.

PHYS 3330 - Health Physics and Radiation Protection
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2120. Radiation protection methods, dosimetry techniques, and survey instruments. Practical knowledge of the methodology for paramedical personnel, industrial workers, and others who deal with radioisotopes and X-ray equipment. Two hours lecture and one three-hour laboratory.

PHYS 3350 - Concepts and Applications of Analog Electronics
4 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2121 or  ET 3610. Introduction to contemporary analog electronics utilizing integrated circuits to treat traditional circuits, power supplies, operational amplifiers, comparators, and multivibrators. Conversion of analog to digital signal for interfacing to microcomputers. Emphasis on practical applications. Three hours lecture and one three-hour laboratory.

PHYS 3400 - Intermediate Physics
3 credit hours

 Prerequisite: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2121 and MATH 1920. Provides an intermediated treatment of the principles of thermodynamics, electromagnetics, and oscillatory behavior with applications. Course is not intended for physics majors participating in the Professional Physics concentration. Three hours lecture.

PHYS 3510 - Concepts in Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 3080 or PHYS 3110. Introduction to the concepts of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Discusses the fundamentals of thermodynamics from both the macroscopic and microscopic points of view including entropy, enthalpy, heat engines, Helmholtz and Gibbs free energy, the partition function, and quantum statistics. Not intended to prepare students for graduate school in physics.

PHYS 3600 - Radiation Oncology Physics
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: MATH 1910 and a one-year introductory sequence in physics. Introduction to  field of radiation oncology physics, including a discussion of fundamental physics and techniques associated with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer using electromagnetic radiation and particle beams. Includes experiences in a radiation oncology clinic and interactions with practicing medical physicists.

PHYS 3601 - Medical Physics Practicum
1 credit hour credit

Prerequisite or corequisite: PHYS 3600. Real-world/clinical applications of concepts and theory from PHYS 3600, especially those associated with detectors and dosimetry. May include hands-on activities at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

PHYS 3610 - Thermodynamics
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 3110 and PHYS 3150 or consent of instructor. Introduction to statistical physics, kinetic theory, and thermodynamics from a unified microscopic point of view. Selected applications to various systems of interest presented.

PHYS 3800 - Physics Seminar
1 credit hour credit

Prerequisite:  PHYS 3100. Develops and refines inquiry, communication, and presentation skills through exposure to new developments in physics, technical brief writing, and resume and job interview preparations.

PHYS 3900 - Physics Practicum
1 credit hour credit

Prerequisite:  PHYS 3100 and consent of instructor. Refines thinking, communication, and interpersonal skills through exposure to on-the-spot technical questions and a laboratory teaching experience as an assistant in an introductory physics laboratory.  One hour lecture and two two-and-one-half  hour experiences as a teaching assistant to be scheduled with department faculty.

PHYS 3910 - Advanced Physics Laboratory
1 credit hour credit

Prerequisites:  PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2120 and PHYS 2121. The skills, art, and physics important in pursuing independent research. Experiments dealing with mechanical, optical, or thermodynamic principles explored. Report writing, literature research, and the use of analysis tools emphasized. One hour lecture and one three-hour independent study laboratory.

PHYS 3920 - Advanced Physics Laboratory
1 credit hour credit

Prerequisites: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2120 and PHYS 2121. The skills, art, and physics important in pursuing independent research. Experiments dealing with mechanical, optical, or thermodynamic principles explored. Report writing, literature research, and the use of analysis tools emphasized.

PHYS 3930 - The Teaching of Physics
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 3950. Introduces physics teaching pedagogies resulting from physics education research. Methods studied to include inquiry, discovery, and modeling-based approaches. Seminar meeting will be supplemented with extensive experience as a learning assistant in a hands-on cooperative-learning and/or discovery-learning based introductory physics course.

PHYS 3950 - Reasoning in Physics I: Mechanics
1 credit hour credit

Prerequisites: PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2121 and MATH 1920. Develops skills of reasoning and articulating physics concepts for improved understanding and performance on physics exams and upper-level courses. Focuses on topics typically covered in the first semester of introductory physics. One one-hour, twenty-five minute lecture per week.  

PHYS 3960 - Reasoning in Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism
1 credit hour credit

Prerequisite: PHYS 3950. Develops skills of reasoning and articulating physics concepts for improved understanding and performance on physics exams and upper-level courses. Focuses on topics typically covered in the second semester of introductory physics. One-hour twenty-five minutes lecture per week. 

PHYS 4310 - Electricity and Magnetism
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 3160. Topics including electric and magnetic fields, electrostatic potential, and potential energy and fields in matter, discussed in a mathematically rigorous manner. A variety of good applications of mathematical methods in physics.

PHYS 4330 - Electricity and Magnetism II
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHYS 4310. Topics include theory of electromagnetic radiation, production and propagation of electromagnetic waves, and the solution of boundary-value problems with applications to optics, wave guides, and lasers.

PHYS 4380 - Quantum Mechanics
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 3110 and PHYS 3160. Topics include both one- and three-dimensional solutions to the Schroedinger equation, including the infinite square-well, finite square-well, tunneling, the harmonic oscillator, and the hydrogen atom with a discussion of angular momentum at a mathematically rigorous undergraduate level.

PHYS 4390 - Advanced Quantum Mechanics
3 credit hours

 Prerequisite: PHYS 4380. Advanced topics in quantum mechanics, including time-independent and time-dependent perturbation theory, systems of indistinguishable particles, the Aharonov-Bohm effect, Fermi's Golden Rule, and an introduction to quantum field theory.

PHYS 4600 - Topics in Medical Physics
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 3110 and PHYS 3160. Topics in medical physics at an advanced undergraduate level. Possible topics include charged-particle interactions and equilibrium in matter, cavity theory, dosimetry, CTs, and MRIs.

PHYS 4630 - Principles of the Solid State
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 3110 and PHYS 3150. Includes crystal structures, lattice dynamics, statistics of conductors and semiconductors, thermal properties, the metallic state, free electron theory, band theory of solids, dielectric and magnetic properties of solids, and the low temperature behavior of matter, particularly solids. Three hours lecture.

PHYS 4740 - Research Methods
3 credit hours

(Same as BIOL/GEOL/CHEM/MATH 4740.) Prerequisite: YOED 3520. Provides secondary science and mathematics teacher candidates with the tools that scientists use to solve scientific problems. Students will use these tools in a laboratory setting, communicate findings, and understand how scientists develop new knowledge.

PHYS 4800 - Special Topics in Physics, Special Topics A
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 3110 and PHYS 3160; an extensive physics background and permission of instructor. Detailed study of a selected topic of current interest in physics not normally covered in the regular undergraduate physics curriculum. Possible topics include advanced atomic physics, high-energy physics (nuclear and elementary particles), scattering theory, astrophysics, and general relativity.

PHYS 4810 - Special Topics in Physics, Special Topics B
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 3110 and PHYS 3160; an extensive physics background and permission of instructor. Detailed study of a selected topic of current interest in physics not normally covered in the regular undergraduate physics curriculum. Possible topics include advanced atomic physics, high-energy physics (nuclear and elementary particles), scattering theory, astrophysics, and general relativity.

PHYS 4850 - Physics Research
2 credit hours

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Independent study of a selected research problem in physics. Includes experimental and/or theoretical investigation of an important, yet unexplored, problem. Includes literature research, experiment design/problem formulation and execution, resulting in oral and written presentation of results suitable for submission for publication in a suitable journal. One hour lecture and significant time working with research mentor.

PHYS 4860 - Physics Research
2 credit hours

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Independent study of a selected research problem in physics. Includes experimental and/or theoretical investigation of an important, yet unexplored, problem. Includes literature research, experiment design/problem formulation and execution, resulting in oral and written presentation of results suitable for submission for publication in a suitable journal. One hour lecture and significant additional time working with research mentor.

PHYS 4900 - Physics Senior Thesis
2 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 4850 or PHYS 4860 and consent of department chair. Brings undergraduate experience to focus on a specific research problem; chosen with the consent of the thesis committee and with the potential for original discovery or for creative development of a tool or technique applicable to scientific research. Independent pursuit of research objectives outlined in a research proposal results in a written thesis whose approval will include an oral defense. One hour lecture and independent writing of thesis.