background

Academic program


Physics, the study of space, time, matter, and energy, is a fundamental component of a liberal education. Introductory courses in physics and astronomy are designed to give students a broad background in the fundamentals of the discipline, an introduction to the logic and philosophy of science, and insight into the understanding and applications of contemporary physics and astrophysics. Advanced courses provide greater depth and sophistication as the student's background in physics and mathematics develops. Laboratory investigation, designed to accommodate each student's particular needs, provides direct experience of the central role that experimental research plays in the advancement of science. More information on physics and astronomy can be found on the website (bates.edu/physics-astronomy).

Major Requirements. The major in physics can be structured to meet the individual needs of students planning graduate study in physics or engineering, as well as those considering careers in business, teaching, government, law, or medicine. To learn physics effectively, it is important that courses be taken in the recommended order and, if at all possible, with the recommended background. Nevertheless, prerequisites and corequisites can be waived in appropriate circumstances, especially in cases of incoming students with strong backgrounds. Students considering graduate study in physics or engineering should take PHYS 409 and 422 as well as other courses numbered 300 or higher. In exceptional cases, a student who otherwise meets the ten-course requirement may petition the department to take a comprehensive examination in lieu of the senior thesis project. The requirement for a major is ten courses in physics.

Required Courses, usually taken in this order:

One of the following:
PHYS 108. Modern Physics/Lab.
FYS 274. Physics in the Twentieth Century/Lab.

All of the following:
PHYS 211. Newtonian Mechanics.
PHYS 222. Electricity, Magnetism, and Waves.
PHYS 231. Laboratory Physics I/Lab.
PHYS 301. Mathematical Methods of Physics.
PHYS 308. Introductory Quantum Mechanics.

One of the following:
PHYS 409. Quantum Theory.
PHYS 412. Advanced Classical Mechanics.
PHYS 422. Electromagnetic Theory.

PHYS 457 or PHYS 458. Senior Thesis. Only one semester of senior thesis may count toward satisfying the minimum ten-course requirement.

Additional Courses: Two additional courses must be selected from the following:
PHYS 107. Classical Physics/Lab (only if taken prior to PHYS 108, concurrently with FYS 274, or if assigned as Advanced Placement credit).
PHYS 214. Renewable Energy.
PHYS 220. Climate Change and Modelling.
PHYS s27. The Asteroid Impact Threat: What Can We Do?
PHYS s30. Electronics/Lab.
Any physics course numbered 300 or higher.

Minor Requirements. The requirement for a minor is six courses in physics, including the following three, usually taken in this order:

One of the following:
PHYS 108. Modern Physics/Lab.
FYS 274. Physics in the Twentieth Century/Lab.

Both of the following:
PHYS 222. Electricity, Magnetism, and Waves.
PHYS 211. Newtonian Mechanics.

The additional three courses must be selected from the following:
PHYS 107. Classical Physics/Lab (only if taken prior to 108, or concurrently with FYS 274)
PHYS s27. The Asteroid Impact Threat: What Can We Do?
PHYS s30. Electronics/Lab.
Any course numbered 200 or higher, except for INDS 228.

Environmental studies majors who elect the Energy concentration may not select the physics minor.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the minor or major.

General Education. Students majoring in physics may satisfy the [W2] requirement by completing any four of the following courses in the sophomore and/or junior year: PHYS 211, 214, 222, 231, 301, 341, 381, s27.

Engineering. A student interested in using physics as a basis for an engineering career should inquire about the Bates dual-degree plans with Dartmouth, Rensselaer, Columbia, Washington University in St. Louis, or Case Western Reserve (consult the website, bates.edu/physics-astronomy/academics/engineering). By careful planning at registration time, similar combination curricula may sometimes be designed with other engineering institutions. Students participating in a dual-degree program declare a major in engineering.


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