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Program Requirements

Students who complete the major requirements for a bachelor of arts (BA) in engineering from the Department of Physics and Engineering will acquire a basic understanding of science and technology and how it is employed in a wide range of disciplines and fields.

Major Requirements (BA)

Course descriptions for all PHYS courses are available at the bottom of this page.

20 semester hours (sh) of supporting courses in the sciences:

  • Calculus I (MATH 1510; 4 sh)
  • Introductory Physics (PHEN/PHYS 1210, 1220; 8 sh)
  • 8 sh in elective science and math courses, chosen from the following:
    • MATH 1150, 1520
    • STAT 1490
    • PSYC 3010, 3100, 3500, 3600, 3800, 3900
    • CHEM 1150, 1160, 2160, 2310, 2320, 2410, 2510, 3250, 3260, 3330
    • BIOL 1250, 1260, 2910, 2930, 2950, 3150, 3160, 3180, 3210, 3230, 3510, 3530, 3610, 3620
    • EXS 2300, 2400, 3010, 3160, 3300, 3400
    • Please note that some of these course options may require prerequisites not on this list.

36 sh of major courses:

  • Required core courses — PHEN 1330, 1510, 2510, 2520, 3310, 3610
  • 12 sh in engineering/physics courses must be numbered 2000 or above
  • Elective courses in ethics and history — choose from PHIL 2530, 2910; PHEN 1410, 2950 (repeatable)

Notes:

  • Either MATH 2030, 3050, or 3100 may be substituted for one engineering/physics elective course numbered 2000 or above.
  • All students will be required to carry out a senior design project.
  • Majors will be encouraged, though not required, to complete an internship in engineering

Course Descriptions

Click on the links below for course descriptions of all PHEN courses. Refer to the math, psychology, biology, chemistry, exercise science, and philosophy program pages for course descriptions of required or elective courses in those fields. For a complete list of all North Park's programs and course offerings, review the academic catalog.

PHEN 1000 – Conceptual Physics
This course is intended to be an introductory algebra-based course in physical science. The course will cover selected topics in physics and applied physics which may include: introduction to astronomy, introduction to geology, introduction to meteorology, or amusement park physics. In each case, emphasis will be placed on the role of technology in society, with emphasis on the environment, as well as physics as a human endeavor. Lab is included in this course. Basic competency in algebra is assumed.

PHEN 1020 – Light
This course is intended to be an introductory course in physical science with minimum mathematics. The course will cover selected topics in optics and light including the principles of production and propagation of light waves with particular emphasis on design and analysis of optical equipment. Geometrical and physical optics, lasers, and their applications will also be covered. Lab is included in this course. Registration based on designated score on the Math Placement Exam or permission of instructor.

PHEN 1030 – Energy
This course is intended to be an introductory course in physical science with minimum mathematics. The course will cover selected topics dealing with various forms of energy including the concepts of atomic, nuclear and electrical energy, work, power, conservation of energy, heat, and entropy. Emphasis will be placed on energy and the environment, energy resources, alternative forms of energy production, pollution, and the economics of energy use. Lab is included in this course. Registration based on designated score on the Math Placement Exam or permission of instructor.

PHEN 1050 – Physics of Sports
This course is intended to be an introductory, algebra-based course in physical science. The course will cover selected topics in physics and their applications to a wide variety of sports. Data acquisition using interactive video techniques will be used widely. Lab is included in this course. Basic competency in algebra is assumed.

PHEN 1060 – Astronomy
This course is intended to be an introductory, algebra-based course in physical science. The course will cover selected topics in astronomy including historical background, the earth-moon system, the solar system, stars and their evolution, environment and groupings of stars, galaxies, and the frontiers of astronomy. Lab is included in this course.

PHEN 1070 – Climate Dynamics
This course is intended as a survey of the physics of the Earth's climate system. This course focuses on large-scale, long-term variability, ranging from days to millennia, rather than local, short-term weather. Topics include basic fluid dynamics, the energy balance of the Earth, the general circulation of the atmosphere, past and modern climate variability, and climate modeling. Lab is included in this course. Background in trigonometry is assumed.

PHEN 1110 – College Physics I
This course is a trig-based introductory course in physics for health science majors. The course will cover kinematics, dynamics, circular motion, gravitation, conservation of energy and momentum, systems in equilibria, rotations, and properties of matter and fluids. Lab is included in this course. Knowledge of trigonometry or permission of instructor is required to register for this course.

PHEN 1120 – College Physics II
This course is the second semester of a trigonometry-based introductory course in physics for health science majors. The course will cover thermodynamics, electric fields and potentials, DC circuits, magnetic fields and forces, AC circuits, geometrical optics, physical optics, quantum theory, atomic theory, and nuclear physics. Lab is included in this course.

PHEN 1210 – Introductory Physics I
This course is the first semester of a calculus-based introductory physics course for science majors. Topics to be covered include kinematics, dynamics, energy and momentum, rotational motion, gravitation, equilibria, properties of materials, fluids, wave motion, sound, and simple harmonic oscillations. Emphasis will be placed on problem solving skills as well as conceptual understanding of the material. Lab is included in this course. Basic knowledge of trigonometry is assumed. Calculus is recommended.

PHEN 1220 – Introductory Physics II
This course is the second semester of a calculus-based introductory physics course for science majors. Topics to be covered include thermodynamics, electrical fields and forces, electric potential, DC circuits, magnetic fields and forces, AC circuits, geometrical and physical optics, quantum theory, atomic theory and structure, and nuclear structure, decay, and reactions. Emphasis will be placed on problem solving skills as well as conceptual understanding of the material. Lab is included in this course.

PHEN 1330 – Mechanical Comprehension
This course is an introduction to a variety of practical, real-world tools used in physics to solve problems and complete projects. In contrast to other courses which focus on the theoretical and analytical aspects of physics, this course covers tools you can use to not only do homework problems but also to tackle real-world engineering and research projects. In this course the focus will be predominately on visual thinking tools. Such topics include drawing and sketching for visualization, imagery and ideation, and basic technical drawing. Coverage may also include basic design and engineering concepts as well as an introduction to CAD.

PHEN 1410 – Pursuit of Knowledge
How do we know? How do we decide that a theory is true? What does it take to become convinced? Physics is perceived as a totally analytical and quantitative field. However, the reality is that even at the simplest level there is considerable judgment required in the interpretation of data and the assignment of meaning to theory. This course will include a brief overview of the history and philosophy of Physics, discussion of the methods of doing physics, experimental techniques, and the role of approximation in theory and computation. The emphasis will be placed on the nature of knowledge and the extent to which it is socially constructed. Students will reflect on science ethics, science policy, the role of the scientist in society, and the interface between science and theology.

PHEN 1510 – Mathematical Methods of Physics
This course is an introduction to mathematical methods in physics. Topics covered include using spreadsheets (Excel), algebraic languages (Mathematical), and interpreted languages (Python) to solve basic physics problems. Elementary numerical methods and scientific visualization is also covered. Topics of coverage may include: approximation techniques, numerical differentiation and integration, matrices, complex variables, and solution of transcendental equations.

PHEN 2060 – Astrophysics
The main focus of this course will be stellar astrophysics. The course will cover the historical development of astronomy, optics and spectroscopy, telescopes, gravitation, planetary systems and comparative planetology, general relativity, stellar structure, H-R diagrams, stellar evolution and galaxies. Lab is included in this course. This course is intended for science majors interested in astronomy. Basic knowledge of trigonometry is assumed. Calculus is recommended.

PHEN 2110 – Modern Physics
This course constitutes a survey of physics since 1900. Topics to be covered include special relativity, blackbody radiation, photoelectric effect, Compton scattering, quantum theory, wave-particle duality, DeBroglie waves, Bohr model of the atom, quantum mechanics and the Schrodinger equation in one dimension, Heisenberg uncertainty principle, quantization in many-electron atoms, statistical physics, lasers, X-ray spectra, molecular structure, solid state physics, nuclear structure, and nuclear reactions. No lab is required.

PHEN 2510 – Electronics for Scientists
This course offers a practical introduction to DC and AC circuits, filters, diodes, power supplies, transistors, operational amplifiers, and logic gates. Emphasis will be placed on both the mathematical methods and the rules of thumb used in everyday laboratory settings.

PHEN 2520 – Electronics Lab
This course is the lab to accompany PHEN 2510. Students will gain practical experience in building electronic circuits and using electrical measuring devices with an eye toward laboratory application. Co-requisite: PHEN 2510 (required).

PHEN 2950 – Topics in History and Philosophy of Physics
This course will cover a topic in the History and Philosophy of Physics. The credit hours will be determined by the choice of topics and the professor teaching the course. Readings in historical methods and philosophy of history will be included as well as instruction in the use of archival materials and oral histories. Proposed topics include: History of Quantum Mechanics and the Influence of the German Romantic Movement, Galileo and the Church, Cold War Science and the Rise of Big Science, Nuclear Security, Medieval Engineering.

PHEN 3010 – Third-Year Lab
This course constitutes an introduction to the laboratory techniques employed in physics research. Important experiments in the development of modern physics (since 1900) will be covered as well as more contemporary experiments. There is no accompanying lecture course for this lab.

PHEN 3110 – Statistical Thermodynamics
This course seeks to investigate how the unifying concepts of atomic theory can lead to an understanding of the observed behavior of macroscopic systems, how quantities describing the directly measurable properties of such systems are interrelated, and how these quantities can be deduced from a knowledge of atomic characteristics. Topics to be covered include properties of equilibria, heat and temperature, statistical ensembles, probability, specification of the state of a system, thermal interaction, work, internal energy, entropy, Maxwell distribution, equipartition theorem, applications to an ideal gas, phases, thermal conductivity, and transport of energy. There is no lab for this course.

PHEN 3210 – Modern Optics
This course will investigate the electromagnetic basis of light. Topics to be covered include reflection, refraction, and diffraction of light waves, geometrical optics including aberrations, spectra, and introduction to quantum effects. Modern applications of optics including lasers, holography, and nonlinear effects will also be included.

PHEN 3220 – Optics Lab
Lab to accompany PHEN 3210. Practical experience in optics including photography, holography, Fourier optics, microwave diffraction, fiber optics.

PHEN 3310 – Dynamics
This course presents a detailed account of the classical mechanics of particles, systems of particles, rigid bodies, moving coordinate systems, Lagrange and Hamiltonian formulations, linear oscillators, driven oscillators, nonlinear oscillations, and central force motion. A review of the mathematics of matrices, vectors, tensors, and vector calculus will be included. No lab is required.

PHEN 3410 – Electromagnetic Fields
Electric and magnetic phenomena are discussed in terms of the fields of electric charges and currents. The use of Maxwell's equations in the interaction of fields and charges will be emphasized. Extensions to electromagnetic radiation and the interaction with matter will also be covered. No lab is required.

PHEN 3510 – Quantum Mechanics
Quantum mechanics deals with the physics of the microscopic realm where classical mechanics fails to explain phenomena such as those seen in lasers and transistors. This course will cover the experimental results that led to and verified quantum mechanics. It will cover the basic topics of quantum mechanics including wave-particle duality, complementarity, the postulates of quantum mechanics, wave packets (their formation and analysis), operators in quantum mechanics, time independent and time dependent Schrodinger Equation and solutions of it for various potentials including the simple harmonic oscillator, Hermitian operators and eigenvalue equations, commutators, uncertainty relations, and conservation laws. Emphasis will be placed on both the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics and the philosophical implications and alternatives to the theory. There is no lab for this course.

PHEN 3910 – Atomic Physics
The methods of quantum mechanics are applied to simple atomic systems. Coverage includes a review of quantum theory, solution of the central force problem using Schrodinger's equation, the one-electron atom, time-independent and time-dependent approximation methods, spin, applications of quantum mechanics to multi-electron atoms, shell model of the atom, perturbation theory, variational method and Hartree and Hartree-Fock theories. There is no lab for this course.

PHEN 3920 – Solid State Physics
This course will investigate the properties of condensed matter including crystallographic groups, mechanical properties, thermal properties, and electrical properties of metals and semiconductors. There is no lab for this course.

PHEN 3930 – Nuclear and Particle Physics
This course will investigate the properties of nuclei and elementary particles. Emphasis will be placed upon the structure of nuclei as well as the interactions with nuclei that reveal this structure. Experiments used to obtain information about elementary particles and nuclei will be stressed. Topics to be covered include accelerators and detection systems, interactions of radiation with matter, classification and structure of subatomic particles, symmetries and conservations laws, electromagnetic interactions, weak interactions, hadronic interactions, quarks and Regge poles, nuclear models, and nuclear applications, especially nuclear power. There is no lab for this course.

PHEN 3940 – General Relativity
This course will investigate the basic theory of general relativity. Topics to be covered include the principles of special and general relativity including 3+1 space-time, Lorentz transformations, curved space, black holes, and the Einstein field equations. There is no lab for this course.

PHEN 3950 – Advanced Topics in Contemporary Physics
Various topics in contemporary physics will be discussed. The topics will be determined by the interests of the students. There is no lab for this course.

PHEN 4000 – Departmental Honors in Physics
Independent study in physics towards a B.S. in Physics with Honors. Students will prepare a written paper which must also be presented orally to an appropriate group. Students must submit a proposal of their intended project for departmental approval prior to enrollment. Student must be a physics major with suitable GPA and have permission of the instructor.

PHEN 4010 – Fourth-Year Seminar
This course is intended to help students begin to make the transition from student to professional. The course will have three main goals: 1) to help students examine their goals as they enter graduate school or the private sector; 2) to help students prepare for the departmental comprehensive exam; and 3) to begin to familiarize students with the literature in their field of study.

PHEN 4030 – Knowledge Reloaded
In PHEN 1410 students examined how we acquire knowledge and gain understanding about our world. In this course students examine the interface between knowledge and practice. Using their experience and information from their undergraduate courses students will examine the point at which physics research becomes truth. Students will examine how society affects research and how physics becomes part of society. This course will include a brief overview of anthropology and sociology of physics. The social construction of knowledge and the anthropology of the laboratory are examples of topics to be considered. Students will particularly focus on science ethics, security issues and the role of the scientist in forming policy.

PHEN 4910 – Independent Study in Physics
This course is intended as an opportunity for students to study a topic in physics not included in the regular curriculum. Instructors consent required.

PHEN 4930 – Research Methods (Experimental)
Experimental research in physics which may be performed off-campus. Students may repeat this course up to a total of 8 semester hours.

PHEN 4950 – Research Methods (Theoretical)
Theoretical research in physics which may be performed off-campus. Students may repeat this course up to a total of 8 semester hours.

PHEN 4970 – Internship
Please refer to internship section of the catalog for requirements and guidelines

Program requirements