Department of Physics & Astronomy

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Undergraduate Courses

Specific curriculum requirements for each undergraduate degree are determined by the catalog number corresponding to each student’s first semester at Texas A&M. Please visit catalog.tamu.edu to verify your catalog number, view electronic versions of these catalogs, or view older catalog editions.

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PHYS 101: Freshman Physics Orientation

Critical thinking skills and problem solving in physics: time management and teaming skills. For physics majors. Registration by non-majors requires approval of instructor; Offered Fall only.

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: none

PHYS 102: Freshman Physics Orientation II

Critical thinking skills and problem solving in physics: time management and teaming skills. For physics majors. Registration by non-majors requires approval of instructor; Offered Spring only.

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 101

PHYS 109: Big Bang and Black Holes

Designed to give an intuitive understanding of the Big Bang and Black Holes, without mathematics, and de-mystify them for the non-scientist. Cross-listed with ASTR 109.;Offered Fall and Spring

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: none

PHYS 119: Big Bang and Black Holes: Laboratory Methods

Hands-on understanding of the concepts surrounding the Big Bang and Black Holes; emphasis on the evidence-based decision making process, methods and presentation; for non-scientists. Cross-listed with ASTR 119.;Offered Fall and Spring

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 2
  • Prerequisites: concurrent enrollment in ASTR/PHYS 109

PHYS 201: College Physics

Fundamentals of classical mechanics, heat and sound. Primarily for architecture, education, premedical, predental and pre-veterinary medical students; Offered Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer.

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 3
  • Prerequisites: MATH 103 or equivalent

PHYS 202: College Physics

Continuation of PHYS 201. Fundamentals of classical electricity and light introduction to contemporary physics; Offered Fall, Spring, and 10 week Summer.

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 3
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 201

PHYS 205: Concepts of Physics

General survey physics course for K-8 preservice teachers integrating physics content and laboratory activities relevant to physics-related subject matter included in the current Texas and national standards for elementary school science; includes aspects of mechanics, waves, electricity, magnetism and modern physics; Offered Spring only.

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 3
  • Prerequisites: Major in interdisciplinary studies or interdisciplinary technology or approval of instructor

PHYS 208: Electricity and Optics

Continuation of PHYS 218. Electricity, magnetism and introduction to optics. Primarily for science and engineering students; Offered each Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer.

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 3
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 218; concurrent enrollment in MATH 152 or 172

PHYS 218: Mechanics

Mechanics for students in science and engineering; 3 laboratory hours per week; offered each fall, spring and 10-week summer

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: concurrent enrollment in MATH 151 or 171

PHYS 221: Optics and Thermal Physics

Wave motion and sound, geometrical and physical optics, kinetic theory of gases, laws of thermodynamics; Offered each Fall and Spring.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 208 or 219; MATH 152 or 172; concurrent enrollment in MATH 308 and MATH 221, 251 or 253

PHYS 222: Modern Physics for Engineers

Atomic, quantum, relativity and solid state physics; Offered each Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 208 or 219; concurrent enrollment in MATH 308

PHYS 225: Electronic Circuits and Applications

Linear circuit theory and applications of solid-state diodes, bipolar and field-effect transistors, operational amplifiers and digital systems; Offered Spring only.

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 3
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 208 or 219; MATH 308

PHYS 285: Directed Studies

Special work in laboratory or theory to meet individual requirements in cases not covered by regular curriculum intended for use as lower-level credit; Offered Fall, Spring, and 10 week summer.

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Contact Physics and Astronomy Advising

PHYS 289: Special Topics

Selected topics in an identified area of physics. May be repeated for credit; offered Fall and Spring.

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Approval of instructor

PHYS 291: Research

Research conducted under the direction of faculty member in physics. May be repeated 2 times for credit; offered each Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer.

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Freshman or Sophomore classification and approval of instructor

PHYS 302: Advanced Mechanics I

Classical mechanics of particles and rigid bodies, both by direct application of Newton?s equations and by Lagrangian methods; applications to gravity and other central forces, scattering, non-inertial reference frames, and rotational motion of rigid bodies; Offered Fall only.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: MATH 221, 251 or 253; MATH 308; PHYS 208 or 219; PHYS 218; PHYS 309 or 222; PHYS 331; concurrent enrollment in PHYS 332; for students with other backgrounds, approval of instructor.

PHYS 303: Advanced Mechanics II

Classical mechanics of particles and rigid bodies with an emphasis on Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods; phase space and canonical transformations; applications to linear and nonlinear oscillations, chaos, and elements of continuum mechanics; Offered Spring only.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 302 and 332

PHYS 304: Advanced Electricity and Magnetism I

Electrostatics dielectrics electrical current and circuits magnetic fields and materials induction Maxwell's equations.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 219; MATH 311 or registration therein; junior or senior classification

PHYS 305: Advanced Electricity and Magnetism II

Radiation and optics. Electromagnetic waves radiation reflection and refraction interference diffraction special relativity applied to electrodynamics. Offered each spring.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 304

PHYS 309: Modern Physics

Special relativity concepts of waves and particles introductory quantum mechanics; Offered each Spring.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 221; MATH 221 and 308

PHYS 327: Experimental Physics

Laboratory experiments in modern physics and physical optics with an introduction to current, state-of-the-art recording techniques.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 3
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 221

PHYS 331: Theoretical Methods for Physicists I

Applications involving vectors; vector and additional methods for advanced electricity and magnetism; relationship and solutions of classical wave equation, heat equation, and Schrodinger equation; harmonic motion on finite or periodic lattice and in continuum; tensor and matrix notation in classical mechanics and electricity and magnetism; Offered Spring only.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: MATH 221 or 251 or 253 and MATH 308; PHYS 208 or 219; PHYS 218 and 221; restricted to physics majors and minors

PHYS 332: Theoretical Methods for Physicists II

Methods to solve the important equations of theoretical physics, emphasizing the effects of boundary conditions and quantization on their solutions and restricted to the essential physical symmetries associated with free space, spheres, cylinders, and rectangles; if time permits, introduction to symmetries in physics and to asymptotic methods; Offered Fall only.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 309 or 222 and PHYS 331; restricted to physics majors and minors

PHYS 401: Computational Physics

Introduction to computational and simulational techniques widely used in physics applications and research, including trajectory integration, wave motion analysis, molecular dynamics, Monte Carlo methods, statistical mechanics of spin systems, phase transitions, quantum evolution, bound state problems, and variational methods

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: MATH 311 or 409, or registration therein; Ability to program in a high level language such as FORTRAN; CPSC 203 can be used to satisfy this requirement.

PHYS 408: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

Statistical method, macroscopic thermodynamics, kinetic theory, black body radiation, Maxwell-Boltzmann, Bose-Einstein, and Fermi-Dirac Statistics; Offered each Fall.

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 221, PHYS 412, MATH 311 or equivalent

PHYS 412: Quantum Mechanics I

Postulates of wave mechanics wave packets harmonic oscillator central field problem hydrogen atom approximation methods; Offered each Spring.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: MATH 308; PHYS 309

PHYS 414: Quantum Mechanics II

Continuation of PHYS 412. Electron spin addition of angular momenta atomic structure time dependent perturbations collision theory application of quantum mechanics to atomic, solid state, nuclear or high energy physics; Offered each Fall.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 412

PHYS 420: Concepts, Connections and Communications

Stars and atoms; new physics; post-Newtonian universe.

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: junior or senior classification

PHYS 425: Physics Laboratory

Experiments in nuclear, atomic, and molecular physics using modern instrumentation and equipment of current research; Offered each Spring.

  • Credit Hours: 2
  • Lab Hours: 6
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 326 or equivalent

PHYS 426: Physics Laboratory

Experiments in solid state and nuclear physics. Modern instrumentation and current research equipment are employed; Offered each Fall.

  • Credit Hours: 2
  • Lab Hours: 6
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 326 or equivalent

PHYS 444: Art of Communication in Physics I: Communicating Science to Scientists

Communication in physics, communicating physics to scientists, scientific presentations; scientific writing; information retrieval; reading technical publications; offered Fall only.

  • Credit Hours: 2
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Knowledge of oral and written English; junior or senior classification

PHYS 445: Art of Communication in Physics II: Communicating Science to Non-Scientists

Communication in physics, communicating physics to scientists, scientific presentations; scientific writing; job and graduate school application; job interview; offered Fall only.

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 444; knowledge of oral and written English; junior or senior classification

PHYS 485: Directed Studies

Special work in laboratory or theory to meet individual requirements in cases not covered by regular curriculum.;1 or more credit hours; Offered each Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Approval of department head

PHYS 489: Special Topics

Selected topics in an identified field of physics. May be repeated for credit; offered each Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer.

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Approval of instructor

PHYS 491: Research

Research conducted under the direction of faculty member in physics. May be repeated 2 times for credit. Registration in multiple sections of this course is possible within a given semester provided that the per semester credit hour limit is not exceeded; offered Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer.

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Junior or Senior classification; approval of instructor

ASTR 102: Observational Astronomy

Observational and laboratory course which may be taken in conjunction with ASTR 101 or ASTR 314. Use of techniques and instruments of classical and modern astronomy.

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 3
  • Prerequisites: ASTR 101, concurrent enrollment in ASTR 314

ASTR 109: Big Bang and Black Holes

Designed to give an intuitive understanding of the Big Bang and Black Holes, without mathematics, and de-mystify them for the non-scientist. Cross-listed with PHYS 109.;Offered Fall and Spring

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: none

ASTR 111: Overview of Modern Astronomy

Roots of modern astronomy; the scientific method; fundamental physical laws; the formation of planets, stars, and galaxies; introduction to cosmology; includes an integrated laboratory that reinforces the lecture topics, including hands-on experience with telescopes and imaging of celestial objects; not open to students who have taken ASTR 101 or ASTR 314.;Offered Fall and Spring

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 2
  • Prerequisites: none

ASTR 119: Big Bang and Black Holes: Laboratory Methods

Hands-on understanding of the concepts surrounding the Big Bang and Black Holes; emphasis on the evidence-based decision making process, methods and presentation; for non-scientists. Cross-listed with PHYS 119.;Offered Fall and Spring

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 2
  • Prerequisites: concurrent enrollment in ASTR/PHYS 109

ASTR 285: Directed Studies

Special work in laboratory or theory to meet individual requirements in cases not covered by regular curriculum; intended for use as lower-level credit; offered Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer; 1 - 4 credit hours.

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Contact Physics and Astronomy Advising

ASTR 289: Special Topics In

Elected topics in an identified area of astronomy. May be repeated for credit; offered Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer;1 - 4 credit hours.

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Approval of instructor

ASTR 291: Research

Research conducted under the direction of faculty member in astronomy. May be repeated 2 times for credit; offered Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer; 1 - 4 credit hours.

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Freshman or Sophomore Classification and approval of instructor

ASTR 314: Survey of Astronomy

Primarily for majors in science and engineering. Kepler's laws, law of gravitation, solar system, stars, stellar evolution, nucleosynthesis, cosmology, clusters, nebulae, pulsars, quasars, black holes; offered Fall and Spring.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: PHYS 208

ASTR 485: Directed Studies

Special work in laboratory or theory to meet individual requirements in cases not covered by regular curriculum; offered Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer; 1 or more credit hours.

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Contact Physics and Astronomy Advising

ASTR 489: Special Topics

Selected topics in an identified topic of astronomy. May be repeated for credit; offered Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer; 1 - 4 credit hours

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Approval of instructor

ASTR 491: Research

Research conducted under the direction of faculty member in astronomy. May be repeated 2 times for credit. Registration in multiple sections of this course is possible within a given semester provided that the per semester credit hour limit is not exceeded; offered Fall, Spring and 10 week Summer; 1 - 4 credit hours

  • Credit Hours: 4
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: Junior or Senior classification; approval of instructor

ASTR 101: Basic Astronomy

A qualitative approach to basic stellar astronomy; earth-moon-sun relationships then studies of distances to stars, stellar temperatures, and other physical properties; birth, life on the main sequence of the H-R diagram, and ultimate fates of stars; not open to students who have taken ASTR 111 or ASTR 314.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites:

ASTR 320: Astrophysical Research Methods

Background and tools used by astronomical researchers in performing analyses; topics include reduction of photometric and spectroscopic data, bivariate and multivariate statistical methods and chi-squared minimization.

  • Credit Hours: 2
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: MATH 171 and MATH 172

ASTR 401: Stars and Extrasolar Planets

How stars are born, how internal structure changes, nuclear fuel burned and ultimate fate; extrasolar planets: detection, formation, properties and habitability.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: ASTR 314

ASTR 403: Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology

Physical makeup of individual galaxies and large scale structure in the universe; origin and eventual fate of the universe; interpretation of observational data as it relates to baryonic matter, Dark Matter and cosmological models with Dark Energy.

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Lab Hours: 0
  • Prerequisites: ASTR 314

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