Physics

Math, Computer Studies, and Physics Department

Brian Christy, Ph.D.

Degrees offered

Major
Minor

Campuses

Main Campus

The mathematics/physics/computer science department of the School of Arts and Sciences offers a major and minor in physics to students in the Women's College. Recognizing the role our fields plays in other disciplines, we offer courses for department majors and non-majors that serve the students of NDMU in the Catholic Liberal Arts tradition. As an integral part of the liberal arts, we provide the students at NDMU with an understanding of the physical world, quantitative and technologically based knowledge, and enable our students to become leaders in their future professions.

Women's College

Overview
Major
Minor
Four-Year Plan
Course Descriptions

Physics represents humanity's most profound attempt to understand the universe in which we live by studying the events and interactions that occur in nature and by trying to comprehend the truths or laws that govern these physical processes. As the most fundamental and all-inclusive of the sciences, physics naturally forms an educational base from which students may enter many diverse occupations and careers. Graduates are employed at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center the U.S. Department of Energy, Lockheed Martin, U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, and the Peace Corps. Among the institutions where graduates have pursued advanced studies are Rochester University, Princeton University, Drexel University, George Washington University, University of Delaware, and Boston College.

Physics majors may add an additional major in a discipline such as mathematics, computer studies or chemistry, or minor in one of several different fields.

A student may fulfill the general education requirement in natural science by taking PHY-101, 102, 111 (College of Adult Undergraduate Studies), 132 (CAUS), 151 or 155. The cooperative program with neighboring colleges provides concentrators with a wide choice of upper-level courses and a variety of faculty viewpoints.

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Programs of Study

Required Courses for a Major in Physics

PHY-101 and PHY-102 General Physics I, II (8)
PHY-201 Modern Physics (3)
PHY-316L Classical Mechanics (3)
PHY-415L Quantum Mechanics (3)
PHY-417L Electricity and Magnetism (3)
Two other physics courses (at 300 level or higher) (6)
CHM-110 and CHM-111 General Chemistry I and II (8)
CST-171 Programming Concepts or CST-295 C++ Programming (3)
MAT-211, MAT-212, MAT-213 Calculus I, II, III (11)
MAT-214 Calculus of Vector Fields (1)
MAT-243 Linear Algebra (3)
MAT-315 Differential Equations (3)

Physics majors are expected to complete at least one of the following:

  • Internship
  • Teaching Apprenticeship
  • Research Experience

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Required Courses for a Minor in Physics 

MAT-211 and MAT-212 Calculus I, II (8)
PHY-101 and PHY-102 General Physics I, II (8)
PHY-201 Modern Physics (3)
Plus one other course in mathematics, physics or computer science at the 200-level or higher (3)

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Four-Year Plan

Sample program of study for the physics major. Students should select courses with the assistance of a faculty advisor.

Fall Spring 
First year      
PHY-101 General Physics I 4 PHY-102 General Physics II 4
MAT-211 Calculus I 4 MAT-212 Calculus II 4
General Education/Elective 3 MAT-243 Linear Algebra or
CST-171 Program Concepts
3
ENG-101 College Writing 3 Foreign Language 3
NDMU-100 First Year Seminar 3 General Education 3
[17 credits]   [17 credits]  
Second year      
PHY-201 Modern Physics 3 PHY-316L Classical Mechanics* 3
MAT-213 Calculus III 3 MAT-315 Differential Equations or Elective 3
CHM-110 General Chem I 4 CHM-111 General Chemistry II 4
General Education/Electives 6 CST-171 Program Concepts or
MAT-243 Linear Algebra
3
[16 credits]   General Education 3
    MAT-214 Calculus of Vector Fields 1
    [17 credits]  
Third year      
PH 415L Quantum Mechanics* or
PH 417L Electricity & Magnetism I*
3 #PH 450L Quantum Mech II* or
+PH 474L Electricity & Magnetism II*
3
+PH 307L Math. Meth. Phys.* 3 Elective or #MAT-315 3
Gen Education/Electives 9 Gen Education/Electives 9
[15 credits]   Physical Education 1
    [16 credits]  
Fourth year      
PH 417L or PH 415L 3 #+PH 474L or +PH 450L 3
+PH 317L Thermal Physics* 3 Physics elective 3
Gen Education/Electives 9 Gen Education/Electives 9
[15 credits]   [15 credits]  

Notes:
# offered alternative years
+ need to take at least two physics courses at level 300 or higher
*Courses with a designation of "L" are taught at Loyola. Notre Dame students take the courses through the cooperative program. For more information, contact the program chair.

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Courses

CHM-110 General Chemistry I

Focuses on fundamental chemical concepts and principles with emphasis on inorganic compounds. Guided inquiry methods are used to explore descriptive and quantitative aspects of chemistry, including atomic and molecular structure, chemical bonding, states of matter, solutions, basic thermodynamics, electrochemistry, equilibrium, acids and bases, and kinetics. Laboratory is coordinated with lecture and emphasizes basic techniques such as titration, spectroscopy, and quantitative and qualitative analysis, along with inorganic synthesis and calculator-based experiments. Three lectures, one discussion period and one laboratory each week. High school algebra strongly recommended. Satisfies the general education requirement in natural science. [4 credits]

CHM-111 General Chemistry II

Focuses on fundamental chemical concepts and principles with emphasis on inorganic compounds. Guided inquiry methods are used to explore descriptive and quantitative aspects of chemistry, including atomic and molecular structure, chemical bonding, states of matter, solutions, basic thermodynamics, electrochemistry, equilibrium, acids and bases, and kinetics. Laboratory is coordinated with lecture and emphasizes basic techniques such as titration, spectroscopy, and quantitative and qualitative analysis, along with inorganic synthesis and calculator-based experiments. Three lectures, one discussion period and one laboratory each week. High school algebra strongly recommended. Prerequisites: CHM-110 with a minimum grade of C or permission of chair. Permission of the instructor is required to enroll in CHM-111 if the prerequisite CHM-110 was not fulfilled at Notre Dame. [ 4 credits ]

CST-171 Programming Concepts

Introduces computer programming using a common small business language such as Microsoft Visual Basic. Emphasizes programming structures such as decisions, repetitions, sub procedures, functions, and arrays using structured program design with object-oriented concepts. Students learn to write a variety of program types to meet various business needs. Satisfies the technological competency requirement. [3 credits]

ENG-101 College Writing

Provides students with an understanding that clear thinking is fundamental to clear writing. It also demonstrates every stage of the composing process: generating and organizing ideas, prewriting and drafting, critiquing, revising, final editing and proofreading. In addition, students work to accomplish clarity, unity, coherence and emphasis in sentences, in paragraphs, and in the overall structure of an essay. They develop techniques of style and tone toward more fluent and appealing prose and strive to sharpen their analytical, critical and editing skills by interacting with other students about their own writing and about the writing of professionals. Students learn to use standard English and develop a sensitivity to sentence structure and diction and to appreciate effectively written prose and recognize characteristics that make such prose effective. To fulfill the general education requirement in composition a minimum grade of C is required. [3 credits]

IDS-100 Perspectives on Education and Culture

Assists first-year students in making a successful transition to college life. The course has three overlapping themes: becoming an intentional learner, becoming a Notre Dame woman, and acquiring global and intercultural fluency. Each student will examine and reflect upon various aspects of her life, including her relationship to other students, the institution and the community (understanding culture, appreciating diversity). Students will have the opportunity to develop personal, academic, and leadership skills and habits that will enhance their college experiences and promote lifelong learning. Required for first-year traditional age students and transfer students with fewer than 12 credits. [3 credits]

MAT-211 Calculus I

Introduces functions, limits, continuity, differential calculus of polynomial, rational, exponential and logarithmic functions, as well as basic integration techniques. Applications are considered throughout the course with an emphasis on the life sciences. Weekly laboratory is an integral part of the course. Graphing calculators used to explore topics covered. Fulfills the general education requirement in mathematics Prerequisite: strong high school algebra background or successful completion of MAT-107. [4 credits]

MAT-212 Calculus II

Studies trigonometric functions, integration by parts and tables, improper integrals, functions of two variables, partial derivatives, double integrals, differential equations, geometric and power series, basic convergence tests, Taylor polynomials and series, and Fourier polynomials and series. Applications are considered throughout the course with an emphasis on the life sciences. Weekly laboratory is an integral part of the course. Graphing calculator is used to explore topics covered. Prerequisite: Calculus I or placement into MAT-212. [4 credits]

MAT-213 Calculus III

Covers visualization of functions of two variables, contour graphs, vector geometry, partial derivatives, gradient vector, directional derivatives, constrained optimization, double integral in rectangular and polar coordinates, triple integrals in rectangular, cylindrical and spherical coordinates. Applications are considered throughout the course. Mathematica is used to explore topics covered. Prerequisite: Calculus II or placement into MAT-213. [3 credits]

MAT-214 Calculus of Vector Fields

Analyzes parametric curves and surfaces, vector fields, line integrals and their applications, the Fundamental Theorem of Line Integrals, Green's Theorem, flux integrals, divergence and curl, Stokes' Theorem and the Divergence Theorem. Mathematica is used to explore topics covered. Prerequisite: Calculus III. [1 credit]

MAT-243 Linear Algebra

Studies systems of linear equations and their respective solution set. Material covered has use in such fields as physical and biological science, business, economics, computing and cryptography. Topics include matrices, vector spaces, linear transformations, determinants, eigenspaces and approximation techniques. Prerequisite: MAT-110 or MAT-211. [3 credits]

MAT-315 Differential Equations

Introduces the solution, applications and theory of ordinary differential equations. Topics include: solutions of differential equations, initial value problems, boundary value problems, Laplace transforms and series solutions. Prerequisite: MAT-212. [3 credits]

PHY-101 General Physics I

Studies the fundamental physical laws of nature and their use in understanding natural phenomena. Course provides a knowledge base for study in all areas of science and mathematics. Topics include kinematics, dynamics of motion, Newton's laws, rotational mechanics and conservation of energy and momentum. Development of the concepts of vector algebra and calculus are provided as needed. Three lectures, one three-hour laboratory weekly. Fulfills general education requirement in natural science. [4 credits]

PHY-102 General Physics II

Continues studies of the fundamental physical laws of nature and their use in understanding natural phenomena. Topics include classical wave motion, acoustics, optics, electricity and magnetism. Development of the concepts of vector algebra and calculus are provided as needed. Three lectures, one three-hour laboratory weekly. [4 credits]

PHY-201 Modern Physics

Traces the development of ideas and theories that have shaped physics in the last 100 years. Topics include relativity, quantum theory, atomic and nuclear structure, particle physics and cosmology. Course can be used to fulfill minor in physics. Prerequisites: PHY-102 and MAT-212. [3 credits]