Academic program

Physics, the study of space, time, matter, and energy, is a fundamental component of a liberal arts 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 provides a direct understanding 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.

The following courses normally are offered every other year: PHYS 103, 106, 112, 341, 373, 412, and NS/PH 117. Students should consult the online schedule to determine when these courses are offered.

Required Courses:

All of the following:
PHYS 211. Newtonian Mechanics.
PHYS 222. Electricity, Magnetism, and Waves.
PHYS 231. Laboratory Physics/Lab.
PHYS 301. Mathematical Methods of Physics.
PHYS 308. Introductory Quantum Mechanics.
PHYS 361. Thermal Physics.
PHYS s31. Spacetime, Waves, and Photons.

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 the minimum ten-course requirement.

Additional Courses: Two additional courses must be selected from the following:
One of PHYS 107, 108, or 109 (only if taken prior to PHYS s31 or a 200-level physics course). Any course in the physics and astronomy department numbered 200 or higher.

Minor Requirements

The requirement for a minor is six courses in physics, including:

All of the following:
PHYS 108. Introductory Physics of Living Systems II/Lab or PHYS s31. Spacetime, Waves, and Photons.
PHYS 222. Electricity, Magnetism, and Waves.
PHYS 211. Newtonian Mechanics.

The additional three courses must be selected from the following:
PHYS 107 (only if taken prior to PHYS 108) or PHYS 109 (only if taken prior to PHYS s31).
Any course in the physics and astronomy department numbered 200 or higher.

Pass/Fail Grading Option

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

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.