Bachelor of Science

**Introduction**

The study of physics is essential to every other natural science because it informs how all the processes in the world work. As such, these physics courses are offered in the spirit of exposing students to the fundamentals of physics and highlighting the applications to other areas of science such as chemistry, biology, and health sciences.

Along with the basic science, physics courses will offer students the opportunity to develop their critical reasoning and problem-solving skills. A natural outcome of these courses is an increased capacity to tackle new and challenging problems in a variety of contexts and disciplines.

Both the B.S. and the B.A. Physics programs focus on the quantitative and analytic skills needed to solve problems and interpret data. Students who major in Physics will be prepared to work on cutting-edge ideas in science and technology, academic, government and the private sector, or graduate school in nearly any STEM area.

A physics minor program is currently available, and flexible enough to accommodate a student in any of the STEM disciplines. This minor gives students a distinct advantage over their peers in graduate school or the work force and provides students an opportunity to study advanced and cutting-edge physics.

**Mission Statement**

The Mercyhurst University Department of Physics seeks to provide a high-quality physics education that prepares students to be the scientists of the future, confident in their abilities and their understanding of physics. Because we believe that simple factual knowledge is not sufficient, the department seeks to instill strong analytical and critical thinking skills in our students. To meet these skills, our department is centered on the following tenets:

**A student-centered approach **within our Department. We believe that students flourish when they are the center of the learning process. In particular, we place an emphasis on achieving close student-faculty relationships.

**A focus on scientific inquiry **at all levels in the curriculum. We believe that students are most successful when they engage in the scientific process to the fullest extent. Inquiry-based learning is infused in all of our scholarly pursuits, from experimentation design through communication with the scientific community.

**A commitment to promoting diversity **in the sciences. By placing an emphasis on mentoring and diversity in the faculty, we seek to support students from all backgrounds and levels of experience, including those traditionally under-represented.

**A dedication to standards of excellence**. We believe that success in scientific disciplines requires fulfillment of a clear set of academic standards, and we strive to ensure that all students meet these standards. Through guidance and mentoring, we strive to provide every student with the opportunity for success.

A belief in developing the whole person. We believe that a dedication to lifelong learning, the ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing, and a desire to contribute to the science community and society at large are essential characteristics of ethical professionals and socially conscientious citizens.

Along with our major courses, we also strive to provide students with a liberal arts background that contributes to a well-rounded academic. Students in any of our courses should acquire the foundational knowledge necessary to be successful in their field and as thoughtful citizens. Our graduates have the expertise and competence in physics to be prepared for advanced study in the physical sciences and/or for employment.

**Program Student Learning Outcomes **

**Mastery of fundamental physics principles**

- Students will show proficiency at solving quantitative problems that require an understanding of the fundamental principles in each of the major areas of physics.
- Students will show proficiency at explaining qualitatively the broad array of physical phenomena that can be explained using these fundamental concepts.

**Application of previously learned information in new contexts**

- Students will show proficiency at transferring fundamental principles into the advanced study in physics areas such as classical mechanics, electrodynamics, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics.

**Demonstration of proficiency in scientific methods of inquiry**

- Students can design and carry out simple experiments including the collection, analysis, and presentation of meaningful data.

**Acquisition of professional skills**

- Students can complete a literature review including the ability to read and use scientific literature.
- Students can present well-organized, logical, and scientifically sound oral and written scientific reports.

**Recognition of the broader implications of an education in physics**

- Students demonstrate an awareness of the impact of physics in social, economic, and environmental
- Students value both independent study and teamwork, as well as hold an appreciation for life-long

**Department Requirements**

All prerequisite coursework must be completed with a grade of C or better in order for a student to be eligible to enroll in a course. If this requirement has not been met prior to the start of the semester during which a student is enrolled, students will be removed from the course where the prerequisites have not been satisfactorily met.

To be recommended for graduation, a student must earn at least a 2.5 grade point average in the required major and cognate courses and labs. When a course is re-taken the GPA requirement includes both the original grade and the grade from the retake. A student also must earn a grade of a C or better in any course from the major discipline that is to fulfill a degree requirement. No required course may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis. No required upper-division courses may be taken at another institution without prior approval. Students are required to take theory and lab courses concurrently unless permission is granted from both the instructor and the department. Withdrawal from one without withdrawal from the other is not allowed without permission from both the instructor and the department.

All students seeking degrees in programs offered by the Physics Department are required to undergo a review by department faculty at the completion of their sophomore year or at the completion of their sophomore level requirements. Students must successfully complete the Sophomore Review to be accepted into the Department’s programs and to continue their physics studies.

Students eligible for review are those who have been enrolled at Mercyhurst for at least 2 years, and must have completed or be in the process of completing Calculus II, General Physics II, Chemistry II, and at least one upper-level physics course (numbered 300 or higher). Acceptance to the program will be based on academic performance in the department and at the University as a whole as well as professional conduct. Students who do not pass the Sophomore Review will not be allowed to enroll in any further courses required for Physics programs. Students seeking a B.S. must also sign up with a Research Advisor before November 1 of the academic year in which they intend to graduate.

**Physics Minor **

All students pursuing a Physics Minor must take the following courses:

MATH 170 Calculus I 4 credits

MATH 171 Calculus II 4 credits

PHYS 201/203 General Physics I & Lab 4 credits

PHYS 202/206 General Physics II & Lab 4 credits

PHYS 310/312 Modern Physics & Lab 4 credits

Students must also choose two approved Physics Minor elective courses.

Students who wish to earn the minor will be required to earn at least a “C” in every course and to maintain a 2.5 GPA overall in their minor courses.

Physics Major Bachelor of Science Degree Requirements

All students seeking a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in physics are required to take the following courses:

GENERAL CHEMISTRY I

CHEM 121

Fall Term

/ All Years

First of two-course sequence that provides an introduction to general chemistry required for science majors. Emphasizes quantitative chemical principles. Prerequisite: Chemical background equivalent to one year of high school chemistry and MATH 111 or mathematical equivalent to two years of high school algebra.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

CHEM 122

GENERAL CHEMISTRY I LAB

CHEM 122

Fall Term

/ All Years

Experimental work corequisite to General Chemistry I.

1

Lab

Total hours: 7.5

CHEM 121

GENERAL CHEMISTRY II

CHEM 131

Spring Term

/ All Years

Continuation of General Chemistry I. Prerequisite: CHEM 121. Corequisite: CHEM 132. 3 credits.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

CHEM 121

CHEM 132

GENERAL CHEMISTRY II LAB

CHEM 132

Spring Term

/ All Years

Continuation of General Chemistry I. Prerequisite: CHEM 121. Corequisite: CHEM 132. 3 credits.

1

Lab

Total hours: 15

CHEM 121

CHEM 222

CALCULUS I

MATH 170

All Terms

/ All Years

This is the initial course in a sequence of courses on the fundamental ideas of the calculus of one variable intended for science and mathematics majors. It is here that truly significant applications of mathematics begin. Topics follow the early transcendentals path, included are functions, continuity, limits, derivatives, maxima and minima and antiderivatives and an introduction to integration.

4

Lecture

Total hours: 45

MATH 118 or ALEKS MATH Placement score of at least 70.

CALCULUS II

MATH 171

Spring Term

/ All Years

Any student who has completed Calculus I should take Calculus II to obtain a complete study of the calculus of one variable. Topics follow the early transcendentals path, included are the integral, anti-derivatives, the Fundamental Theorem, integration techniques, interesting applications of integration, an introduction to differential equations, series, sequences.

4

Lecture

Total hours: 45

MATH 170

LINEAR ALGEBRA

MATH 205

This course is a one semester course in linear algebra with computer applications. The class lectures will focus primarily on definitions and theory, with some simple calculations being

performed without the aid of a computer. Topics will include vectors and vector arithmetic, solutions of linear systems, Gaussian elimination, inner products, vector spaces and subspaces, the

four fundamental subspaces, determnants eigenvalues and eigenvectors, symmetry, linear transformations, and applications.

4

MATH-170 OR ALEKS score 076

CALCULUS III

MATH 233

Fall Term

/ Even Years

This is an introduction to the calculus of several variables. Topics selected from polar coordinates, functions of several variables, partial derivatives, multiple integrals, line integrals, surface integrals, Green's theorem and Stokes' theorem.

4

Lecture

Total hours: 45

MATH 171

DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS

MATH 240

Fall Term

/ Odd Years

An introduction to the basic mathematical content of ordinary differential equations and their applications. This will include analytical, qualitative, and numerical methods for ordinary differential equations. Topics include first-order and second-order equations and applications, systems of differential equations, and matrix methods for linear systems.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

FRESHMAN SEMINAR

PHYS 200

Fall Term

/ All Years

The freshman seminar course is designed to expose new students to the ideas and frontiers of physics. Aside from getting a general feel for the various sub-disciplines in physics, students will learn what it means to be a good scientist: to be curious, to ask good questions and seek meaningful answers, to recognize that it is often OK to admit you don't know the answers, and to collaborate and participate in the process of science.

1

Lecture

Total hours: 15

GENERAL PHYSICS I

PHYS 201

Fall Term

/ All Years

This is a calculus-based course that is designed for natural science and mathematics majors, (biology, biochemistry, chemistry, earth-space science education, mathematics). The role of physics in other scientific fields will be emphasized as classical mechanics is covered. This portion of the General Physics series will deal strictly with mechanics; topics include: motion in one-, two- and three-dimensions, the laws of motion, work, potential energy, kinetic energy, conservation of energy, linear and rotational motion, and the prediction of motion based on initial conditions.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

MATH 170

PHYS 203

GENERAL PHYSICS I LAB

PHYS 203

Fall Term

/ All Years

Laboratory experience to accompany General Physics I.

1

Lab

Total hours: 15

PHYS 201

GENERAL PHYSICS II

PHYS 202

Spring Term

/ All Years

This course is a continuation of General Physics I; calculus skills are required. Topics include: waves, electricity and magnetism, light and optics, and thermodynamics. Problem solving and the relationships between physics and the fields of biology, biochemistry, and chemistry continue to be emphasized.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

MATH 170, PHYS 201

PHYS 206

GENERAL PHYSICS II LAB

PHYS 206

Spring Term

/ All Years

Laboratory experience to accompany General Physics II.

1

Lecture, Lab

Total hours: 15

PHYS 202

MODERN PHYSICS

PHYS 310

Spring Term

/ Even Years

This course is a continuation of PHYS 201/202 and is designed to present natural science and mathematics students with exposure to contemporary physics topics and their applications. Topics include: relativity, nuclear physics, particle physics and basic quantum physics.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

PHYS 202

PHYS 312

MODERN PHYSICS LAB

PHYS 312

Spring Term

/ Even Years

Laboratory experience to accompany Modern Physics.

1

Lab

Total hours: 15

PHYS 202

PHYS 310

THERMAL PHYSICS

PHYS 330

A more in-depth study of thermal physics than the introductory courses, this course involves present treatment of thermal dynamics including applications of the theory of ideal gases and other state functions, and in-depth treatment of the laws of thermodynamics and their relevance to real-world systems, non-ideal and non-equilibrium systems, and the basics of kinetic theory.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

PHYS 202

PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY I

CHEM 341

Fall Term

/ All Years

This course will focus on thermodynamic and kinetic methods utilized to predict and describe change. The laws of thermodynamics as they pertain to physical change and chemical reactions will be studied in depth and with mathematical rigor. In the kinetics portion of the course, chemical reaction rates and molecular reaction dynamics will be studied.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

CHEM-131 MATH-170 PHYS-202

OPTICS

PHYS 335

Fall Term

/ Odd Years

With an emphasis on the visual and tangible nature of light and using the microscope as the focus of our efforts, this course presents an introduction to optics. Course topics include both geometric optics (ray tracing, lens design, aberrations, apertures and stops, etc.) and physical optics (polarization, interference, diffraction, wave guides, resolution etc.). The course is presented in a studio format to maximize the connection between the theory learned in class and the construction of optical systems.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

PHYS 202

MECHANICS I

PHYS 350

Fall Term

/ Even Years

This course presents an intermediate treatment of classical mechanics. Topics covered include: motion of a particle in three dimensions, Kepler's laws of planetary motion, phase space and oscillations, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian forumations, and central force motion.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

PHYS 202, MATH 233

ELECTROMAGNETISM

PHYS 360

Spring Term

/ Even Years

This course presents an intermediate treatment of the electric and magnetic phenomena using vector calculus. Topics include advanced electrostatics, magnetostatics, induction, development of Maxwell's equations, the Poynting theorem and electromagnetic waves, and radiation theory.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

PHYS 202, MATH 233

QUANTUM MECHANICS

PHYS 420

Spring Term

/ Odd Years

An introduction to quantum theory and calculations, this course emphasizes the fundamental of the quantum approach. Topics include the postulates of quantum mechanics, quantum operators and the wave function, the braket notation, Hermitian operators, eigenfunctions and eigenvalues, conservation theorems, angular momentum, fermions and bosons, time development of wavefuctions, and perturbation theory as time allows.

3

Lecture

Total hours: 45

MATH 150, MATH 240

SENIOR RESEARCH PROJECT

PHYS 450

Randomly

/ Randomly

Students are expected to engage in independent research, either theoretical or experimental, in collaboration with a faculty member.

1-3

Project

Total hours: 45

PHYS-202

Student may register for 3 credits of PHYS 450 or may distribute credits among PHYS 446, PHYS 448 and PHYS 450

Electives

Students are required to choose at least two approved Physics Major electives with at least one course at the 300 level or higher.

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