Physics Department Educational Goals

For all students served by the Physics and Astronomy curriculum, including those participating in general-education or introductory courses as well as those participating in advanced courses and the senior thesis, the Department aims to:

  • Develop students’ appreciation for the workings of the natural world through qualitative and quantitative description, analysis, and understanding
  • Build students’ problem-solving skills and capability for analytical thinking through the construction of mathematical models and where appropriate verification of the models through experimentation
  • Foster an appreciation for the core intuitive and creative elements of physics – analogous to the creation of art, music, and literature
  • Instill the importance of constructive skepticism, which guides the posing of substantive questions about the natural world given a foundation of general understanding of empirical inquiry and scientific truth
  • Convey a sense of the practical or “real-world” role of physics and its foundational role in the structure of our modern technology-driven society

Additionally, the Department strives to ensure that Physics majors should be able to:

  • Grasp the fundamental principles of core topics including classical mechanics, electrodynamics, and quantum mechanics
  • Demonstrate their understanding via oral and written communication
  • Describe the physical world using mathematics, and by extension, perceive the physical content of the abstract expressions used in such descriptions
  • Perform measurements on the physical world and independently verify fundamental ideas through the design and construction of experiments
  • Understand the nature of error and uncertainty in physical measurements
  • Appreciate the historical development and unity of the intellectual construct of physics
  • Conduct and complete an independent project through participation in the senior thesis