Course Information | Department of Physics

Course Information

100 General Physics (course web page)
An introduction to mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, optics, and modern physics. The course includes applications of physics to biological problems. Recommended for students in the life sciences program. Six credits and lab.

120 General Physics (course web page)
An introduction to physics (mechanics, electricity and magnetism), this course is suitable for science students seeking a firm understanding of how the world works, e.g., from the flight of a golf ball to the orbit of a planet, or from the nature of an electron to how a generator works. Recommended for those considering further study in the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics and computer science. MATH 111/112 or 121/122 should be taken concurrently, as this course uses concepts developed in the calculus course. Six credits and lab.

171 Introduction to Astronomy I (course web page)
This course provides an introduction to astronomy for students who have no background in mathematics or science. Topics include observing the night sky with and without optical aid, the development of astronomy and related sciences, time, the evolution of the solar system, sun, planets, comets, and meteors. Observing sessions will be arranged. Recommended for arts students. Students who already have credit for PHYS 271 cannot receive credit for PHYS 171. Three credits. Offered in 2009-2010.
Currently, PHYS 171 and PHYS 172 take place in the N1/N2 time blocks. However, we do not plan on filling both the N1 and N2 time blocks (since that would be a total of 5 hours). Instead, we will run two 75 minute classes in those blocks.

172 Introduction to Astronomy II
This course provides an introduction to astronomy for students who have no background in mathematics or science. Topics include stellar systems, galaxies, quasars, black holes, dark matter, dark energy, cosmology, cosmogony and life in the universe. Observing sessions will be arranged. Recommended for arts students. Students who already have credit for PHYS 272 cannot receive credit for PHYS 172. Three credits. Offered in 2009-2010.
Currently, PHYS 171 and PHYS 172 take place in the N1/N2 time blocks. However, we do not plan on filling both the N1 and N2 time blocks (since that would be a total of 5 hours). Instead, we will run two 75 minute classes in those blocks.

201 Modern Physics: Introduction to Relativity and Quantum Physics
Topics include: Einstein’s special relativity; wave description of matter; early atomic quantum theory; introduction to nuclear and particle physics; Schrödinger’s quantum mechanics. Prerequisite: PHYS 120, concurrently with MATH 112 or MATH 122/ENGR 122. Three credits and lab.

221 Electric Circuits Basic Electric Circuits Theory
Topics include: introductory concepts; resistive networks; response to linear circuits with energy storage; exponential excitation functions; steady-state AC circuits; analysis; network analysis; systems. Cross-listed as ENGR 237. Prerequisites: PHYS 120, concurrently with MATH 221/ENGR 221. Three credits and lab.

223 Digital Electronics
This hands-on, practical course introduces digital electronics with applications to computer hardware and micro-computer peripherals. Topics include: the families of digital electronic technology; combinational and sequential logic; digital device characteristics; micro-computer interfacing; data acquisition; instrument control; data transmission. Labs provide an opportunity to design and test practical digital devices. Prerequisite: PHYS 120. Cross-listed as ENGR 238. Three credits and lab.

241 Mathematical Physics: Oscillations and Waves
An introduction to complex numbers, treatment of experimental uncertainties, ordinary differential equations, partial differential operators, partial differential equations and Fourier series for dealing with the physics of oscillating systems and waves. Simple, damped, forced, and coupled oscillators are treated in detail. The one-dimensional wave equation is derived and solved. Fourier series are introduced in order to satisfy the initial conditions. Prerequisites: PHYS 120, concurrently with MATH 112 or MATH 122/ENGR 122. Three credits.

242 Classical Dynamics I
The course covers conservative systems and potential energy; non-inertial frames; multi-particle systems; calculus of variations; Lagrangian mechanics; the connection between symmetries and conservation laws; central force problems; orbital mechanics; coupled oscillators and normal modes; Hamilton’s equations of motion. Concurrent prerequisites: PHYS 241; MATH 221/ENGR 221 or MATH 367. Three credits.

271 Astronomy: The Solar System (course web page)
Topics include: the evolution of the solar system, sun, planets, planetoids, comets, meteors, and solar wind. Open to science students as a free elective and to arts students with permission of the instructor. Three credits.

272 Astronomy: The Stellar System
Topics include: stellar evolution, supernovae, quasars, pulsars, neutron stars, black holes, the universe, our galaxy, and cosmology. It is preferable that students take PHYS 271 before PHYS 272. Open to science students as a free elective and to arts students with permission of the instructor. Three credits. Not offered 2009-2010.

278 Introduction to Athmospheric Physics
This course aims at developing an understanding of the physical processes that influence our climate. It is suitable for science students interested by atmospheric sciences, climate and air quality issues. Topics include: introduction to radiation, atmospheric composition, planetary atmospheres, introduction to molecular spectroscopy and photochemistry, radiation balance - natural variability and anthropogenic effects, greenhouse effect, ozone depletion, clouds, methods of sounding atmospheric constituents, instrumentation, introduction to climate modeling.

302 Modern Physics: Properties of Matter
This course considers the properties of matter in its various states of greater and lesser order. Topics include: classical thermodynamic treatment of phase transitions; an introduction to fluid mechanics; crystallographic order in crystals; elasticity; magnetic order; electrons in metals; and electrical resistance. Prerequisites: PHYS 201, 241. Three credits and lab.

303 Modern Physics: Subatomic Physics and Cosmology
Topics include: nuclei; elementary particles; concepts of general relativity; cosmology. Prerequisite: PHYS 201. Three credits.

322 Electromagnetic Theory I (course web page)
This course presents a comprehensive study of electrostatics in the presence of conductors and dielectrics. Particular attention is paid to developing and solving the differential equations that describe the electric field and scalar potential. Topics include: vector fields; Coulomb’s Law; Gauss’s Law; Poisson’s/Laplace’s equation; Green’s function; multipole expansion; method of images; polarization of materials; the displacement field; introduction to magnetostatics. Prerequisites: PHYS 120; MATH 267 or MATH 222/ENGR 222; PHYS 241 or MATH 361. Three credits.

323 Electronics
An introduction to electronic devices and circuits. Devices and topics discussed include diodes, bipolar junction transistors, field effect transistors, linear models, single-stage amplifiers, operational amplifiers, and digital circuits. Prerequisites: PHYS 221/ENGR 237; MATH 221/ENGR 221 or MATH 367. Three credits and lab.

325 Optics (course web page)
Topics include: the nature of light; geometric optics, aberrations, optical instruments; Maxwell’s equations, vector nature of light, polarization; coherence and interference; Fourier transform spectroscopy and interferometry; Fraunhofer diffraction, Fresnel diffraction; optics of solids. Prerequisites: PHYS 201, 241; MATH 221/ENGR 221 or MATH 367. Three credits and lab. Three credits and lab.

342 Classical Dynamics II
Topics include: calculus of variations; Hamilton’s principle and equations; non-linear dynamic equations; van der Pol’s equation; orbits; limit cycles; graphical analysis; fixed and periodic orbits; bifurcations; the transition of chaos; symbolic dynamics; chaos; Sarkovskii’s theorem; Newton’s method; fractals; the Julia and Mandelbrot sets. Prerequisite: PHYS 242. Three credits. Not offered 2009-2010.

343 Quantum Mechanics I (course web page)
Covers states as vectors, measurable quantities as operators in a linear vector space, eigenstates and eigenvalues; the process of measurement, superposition of eigenstates; Schrödinger’s equation, applications; orbital and spin angular momentum, application; time-independent perturbation theory, applications. Prerequisites: PHYS 201, 242; MATH 254, 267. Three credits.

344 Thermal Physics
Explores configurations and states; entropy; laws of thermodynamics; Boltzmann distribution; Helmholtz free energy and partition function; blackbody radiation and Planck’s distribution; chemical potential and Gibb’s distribution; ideal gases; Fermi, Bose; heat and work; Gibb’s free energy, enthalpy. Prerequisites: PHYS 242; ENGR 144 or CSCI 161. Three credits and lab.

415 Special Topics in Physics
This course will introduce one or more current topics in physics research. The topics will vary from year to year depending upon the availability of faculty and their interests. Three credits.

422 Electromagnetic Theory II
This course, a continuation of PHYS 322, covers magnetic fields in magnetic and non-magnetic materials, electromagnetic induction, the electric and magnetic fields of moving electric charges; Maxwell’s equations; and the propagation and radiation of electromagnetic waves in various media. Prerequisites: PHYS 322; MATH 221/ENGR 221 or MATH 367; MATH 361. Three credits.

425 Lasers and Modern Optics
An introduction to the theory, operation, and applications of lasers. Topics include: the principles of optical coherence; optical resonators; operating principles and the most important laser types; holography; wave mixing; harmonic generation; the optical Kerr effect; stimulated Raman scattering and fiber optics. Prerequisites: PHYS 201, 325, 343. Three credits and lab. Not offered 2009-2010.

442 Fluids
From the majesty of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter to the common-place phenomena of ocean waves, cream mixing in coffee and smoke rings, the motion of fluids is of aesthetic, practical and fundamental interest. Continuum descriptions of ideal and viscous fluid flows, both with and without compressibility, will be presented. Common flow geometries, wave and surface phenomena, solitons, convective instabilities and turbulent flow will be discussed. Prerequisites: PHYS 242, PHYS 344 or 444 and MATH 361. Three credits. Not offered 2009-2010.

443 Quantum Mechanics II
Topics include: function space analysis; state vectors, pure and non-pure states described by density operators; unitary and antiunitary transformations, symmetries and group theory in quantum mechanics; Schrödinger, Heisenberg, and interaction pictures; angular momentum coupling, tensor operators, the Wigner-Eckart theorem; time-dependent perturbation theory, variational approach; scattering theory with applications to modern physics. Prerequisite: PHYS 343. Three credits.

444 Statistical Mechanics
This is a course for physicists about thermodynamics and its relationship to statistical mechanics. Topics include: the thermodynamic postulates; conditions for equilibrium; heat, work energy and processes; van der Waals fluid; Legendre transformed representations; response functions and Maxwell relations; stability; phase transitions; critical points; connection to statistical mechanics through numerical models. Three credits and lab.

473 Soft Materials and Biophysics
Examples of soft materials are familiar from everyday life: glues, paints, soaps, plastics, and foods. These materials are neither simple liquids nor crystalline solids. Topics will be chosen from: the physical properties of colloids, polymers, and liquid crystals; the self-assembly properties of block co-polymers; amphiphiles and bio-polymers (DNA and proteins) in solution; and interfaces such as bio-membranes and bacterial cell walls. Prerequisites: PHYS 302, 344 or 444. Three credits. Not offered 2009-2010.

474 Computational Physics
This course covers computational modeling of a variety of systems relevant to physics, physical chemistry, and engineering. Topics will include: deterministic and stochastic methods; drawing connections among different phenomena from underlying similarities revealed through the modeling process; implementing simulations and analyzing the results; numerical integration of neural networks and spin glasses. Six-week lab. Prerequisites: PHYS 241; MATH 221/ENGR 221, ENGR 144 or CSCI 161.Three credits.

475 Atomic and Molecular Physics
Covers the development of atom physics; basis of quantum mechanics; one-electron atom; radiation and radiative transitions; the Pauli principle and atomic shell structure; atomic spectroscopy; molecular binding and molecular spectra; scattering theory; electron spectroscopy; resonance and ionization by electron impact. Prerequisite: PHYS 343. Three credits and lab. Not offered 2009-2010.

476 Solid-State Physics
An introduction to the theory of solids and important experimental results. Topics include: crystal structure; diffraction methods; lattice vibrations; specific heat of solids; thermal conductivity; the behavior of electrons in metals and semiconductors; magnetism; superconductivity. Prerequisites: PHYS 201, 302, 344 or 444, concurrently with PHYS 343. Three credits and lab.

491 Physics Seminar
All students in the fourth year of a physics program are required to attend department seminars as scheduled. No credit.

493 Honours Thesis
Students will prepare and present a thesis based on original research they have performed under the supervision of a faculty member. Three credits.