Courses and Programs | Department of Physics

Courses and Programs

The Department maintains a list of courses with detailed information on the content of each course and links to the current course web pages, which are provided by the respective instructor. Below you may find more information about the physics degrees available at StFX. If you are interested in a joint program with another Department you should contact the Chair of Physics, Carl Adams.

Program options in physics
The three degree patterns – Honours, Advanced Major, and Major – differ from each other in the degree of specialization required and in the grades required to enter and stay in the program. You normally do not decide which program to choose until the end of your second year. The Honours program is the most specialized and the most stringent in terms of average requirements. It is recommended if you would like to go on to graduate study in physics or a related subject such as electronic engineering, meteorology, oceanography, etc. To enter Education, Medicine, Dentistry, Physiotherapy, or Veterinary Medicine, any of the degree programs would suffice, as long as your grades were sufficient and you had taken all the prerequisite courses. To work in industry we would recommend as concentrated program as possible with emphasis on some of the more practical courses in digital electronics and laser optics. Some students look for jobs in industry after their B.Sc. while others complete a Masters degree first.

The following tables give an overview of the required courses for each of the programs. Physics courses are displayed in blue, math courses in green, other science courses in yellow, and electives in red. You can also access a detailed list of courses the Deparment offers.

Major Program
Year 1 PHYS 120 CHEM 120 or
CHEM 100
MATH 111 Open Elective Arts Elective
MATH 112 Open Elective Arts Elective
Year 2 PHYS 221 PHYS 241 MATH 221 or 367 Open Elective Arts Elective
PHYS 201 PHYS 242 MATH 267 Open Elective Arts Elective
Year 3 PHYS 223 PHYS 325 MATH 253 Open Elective Arts Elective
PHYS 271 ENGR 144 or
CSCI 161
MATH 254 Open Elective Arts Elective
Year 4 PHYS 272 PHYS Elective Open Elective Arts Elective Arts Elective
PHYS 302 Open Elective Open Elective Arts Elective Arts Elective

Advanced Major Program
Year 1 PHYS 120 CHEM 120 or
CHEM 100
MATH 111 Open Elective Arts Elective
MATH 112 Open Elective Arts Elective
Year 2 PHYS 201 PHYS 241 MATH 221 or 367 MATH 253 ENGR 144 or
CSCI 161
PHYS 221 PHYS 242 MATH 267 MATH 254 Approved Elective
Year 3 PHYS 302 PHYS 323 MATH 361 Open Elective Arts Elective
PHYS 322 PHYS 325 Approved Elective Open Elective Arts Elective
Year 4 PHYS 343 PHYS Elective Open Elective Open Elective Arts Elective
PHYS 344 PHYS Elective Open Elective Open Elective Arts Elective
In addition, in their 4th year advanced major students have to attend the Physics seminar (PHYS 491, no credit), and to write an advanced major paper (project guidelines).
Honours Program
Year 1 PHYS 120 CHEM 120 or
CHEM 100
MATH 111 Open Elective Arts Elective
MATH 112 Open Elective Arts Elective
Year 2 PHYS 201 PHYS 241 MATH 221 or 367 MATH 253 ENGR 144 or
CSCI 161
PHYS 221 PHYS 242 MATH 267 MATH 254 Arts Elective
Year 3 PHYS 302 PHYS * PHYS 343 MATH 361 Arts Elective
PHYS 322 PHYS 325 PHYS 344 MATH 462 or 481 Arts Elective
Year 4 PHYS 422 PHYS * PHYS * PHYS 493 MATH 462 or 481
PHYS 443 PHYS * PHYS * Approved Elective Arts Elective

In this table, PHYS * refers to five courses out of PHYS 223, 303, 323, 342, 425(L), 444(L), 473, 474, 475(L), 476(L) (the choice must include at least two courses with a lab component (L))

PHYS 344 (Thermal Physics) may be replaced by a PHYS * course if PHYS 444 (Statistical Mechanics) is taken during the 4th year.

  • In their 4th year honours students have to attend the Physics seminar (PHYS 491, no credit).
  • Honours students of superior academic standing will be encouraged to enrich their programs by taking up to one additional course each year.
  • The typical program outlined here may be varied with approval of the Chair. This may include to replace up to 6 credits of PHYS * courses by appropriate courses offered by other Departments in the Faculty of Science.

Courses offered to BSc students
  • PHYS 100: General Physics. Recommended for students in the life sciences program
  • PHYS 271: Astronomy. Open to science students as a free elective

Courses offered to engineering students
  • PHYS 120: General Physics
  • PHYS 223 Digital Electronics. Cross-listed as ENGR 238

Courses offered to arts students
  • PHYS 171: Introduction to Astronomy I
  • PHYS 172: Introduction to Astronomy II
  • PHYS 271: Astronomy. Open to arts students with permission of the instructor