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Undergraduate Courses

The courses in physics provide a mix of theoretical concepts and practical examples. Each course within a degree plan builds upon the knowledge base acquired in previous courses and, together, these courses allow a student to acquire the combination of physical insight and mathematical skill needed for success in today’s demanding job markets.

The department also offers introductory survey courses in physics and astronomy which are of interest to a broad range of students in the social sciences, fine arts, humanities, health sciences, and education. These courses use a minimum of mathematics to introduce the principles of physics and they provide many examples from the “real world” of the environment, energy, space, communications, transportation, and medicine.

Undergraduate Physics Courses that do not Count Toward Major Requirements

Physics 101 (Introductry Physical Science 1)
(For Elementary Education majors only.) Emphasis on practicing reasoning abilities necessary to carry out simple scientific inquiry. Major concepts include properties of matter and astronomy.

Physics 102 (Introductry Physical Science 2)
Electricity, motion, heat and temperature, energy, and chemistry.

Physics 105 (Conceptual Physics)
Basic principles of physics and their relationship to our modern technological society. Properties of matter, electricity, optics, motion, heat and temperature, and energy.

Physics 107 (Physics Of Music)
The physical and psychophysical principles underlying the nature, production, transmission, reception, and reproduction of sound.

Physics 108 (Light Vision And Color)
Descriptive course emphasizing the basic principles of light with applications to color vision and optical phenomena in everyday environment and technology.

Physics 225 (Medical Imaging Physics)
The fundamental concepts and clinical applications of the major imaging techniques are presented.

Undergraduate Physics Courses that Count Toward Major Requirements

Physics 111 (General Physics I)
Calculus-based introduction to mechanics, thermodynamics, and waves

Physics 112 (General Physics II)
Calculus-based introduction to electricity, magnetism, and optics

Physics 211 (Mathematical Physics)
Review of vectors, matrices, ordinary and partial differential equations, Fourier analysis, and special functions

Physics 250 (Computational Physics)
An introduction to computational techniques used to solve physics problems.

Physics 314 (Introductory Modern Physics)
Topics of modern physics, including atomic physics, special theory of relativity, and introduction to solid state and nuclear physics

Physics 321 (Optics)
Ray optics, interference, diffraction, dispersion, absorption, and polarization of light

Physics 325 (Atomic Physics)
Relativistic mechanics, atomic structure, and spectra

Physics 331 (Theoretical Mechanics I)
Mechanics of particles, systems of particles, and rigid bodies

Physics 332 (Theoretical Mechanics II)
Kinematics and dynamics of particle systems, Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulation

Physics 333 (Electricity and Magnetism I)
Electrostatic fields, magnetic fields in matter, Maxwell’s equations

Physics 334 (Electricity and Magnetism II)
Electrodynamics, waveguides and cavities

Physics 341 (Advanced Physics Laboratory)
Experiments in physics, methods of data evaluation and error analysis

Physics 451 (Introductory Quantum Mechanics)
Fundamental principles, Schrodinger’s equation, state functions in position and momentum space, and operators

Physics 452 (Quantum Mechanics II)
Angular momentum, the hydrogen atom, quantum mechanical simple harmonic oscillator, perturbation theory, molecular orbitals

Physics 461 (Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics )
Heat transfer, three laws of thermodynamics, statistical foundations of thermodynamics

Physics 463 (Nuclear Physics)
Nuclear structure, nuclear decay and reactions, nuclear forces and models, and elementary particles

Physics 471 (Solid State Physics)
Crystal structure, interatomic binding, lattice vibrations, free electron theory, band theory of solids

Physics 481 (Plasma Physics)
Introduction to physics of ionized gases, equilibrium and stability of plasmas and waves

Physics 493 (Special Topics)
Topics of current interest in physics (independent study)

Undergraduate Astronomy Courses

ASTR 106 (Descriptive Astronomy)
The celestial sphere; Kepler’s laws; birth, evolution, and death of stars, galaxies, and the structure of the Universe.

ASTR 110 (Explosions in Space)
Special and general relativity, supernovae, neutron stars, black holes, wormholes, time travel and gamma-ray bursts.

ASTR 367 (Astrophysics I)
Hertzsprung-Russell diagram; the sun; special and general relativity;
star clusters and galaxies; the interstellar medium.

ASTR 368 (Astrophysics II)
Star formation, galaxy types, cosmology, planets and the solar system.

ASTR 469 (Observational Astronomy)
Student projects using techniques of visible, radio, and X-ray astronomy.

ASTR 470 (General Relativity)
Special relativity, curved space-time, black holes, gravitational waves.

Ask_an_Expert Alan Bristow

“Ask an Expert” with Professor Alan Bristow

Professor Alan Bristow was featured in the inaugural “Ask an Expert” article in the Fall 2014 edition of WVU Magazine, where he answered questions about the future of photonic devices and the study of physics.

Read the Article

Siding Spring Comet.  Credit: NASA

WVU Students Track Comet on its Million-year Journey

A comet that began its journey across our solar system more than a million years ago zoomed past Mars on Oct. 19. From Earth, observers in the southern hemisphere had the best vantage points of the icy ball hurtling through space, but its path didn’t escape the watch of West Virginia University students William Armentrout, Brittany Johnstone, and Virginia Cunningham.

Read More About the Research

Mysterious Radio Bursts, Sent From Deep Space

Reporting in Science, researchers including WVU physics post-docs Sam Bates and Lina Levin write of discovering four radio bursts from outer space. WVU professors Duncan Lorimer and Maura McLaughlin were on the team that detected the first such explosion in 2007. On NPR’s Science Friday, Dr. Lorimer discusses what could be causing these radio signals, such as evaporating black holes, an idea proposed by Stephen Hawking in the 1970s.

Listen to Science Friday Episode