Undergraduate Physics Courses

All classes listed in the course descriptions section will be offered regularly unless otherwise noted. Please check with the department office for information on specific courses. Revisions that have not yet been formally approved in italics.

For a complete list of courses and programs at UW-Madison see the Guide

 

Undergraduate Course List

103 General Physics. I, II, SS; 4 cr (Elementary, Physical Sciences, C, Quant Reasoning B). Introduction at the non-calculus level. Principles of mechanics, heat, and sound, with applications to a number of different fields. Two lectures, two discussions, plus one two-hour lab per week. Prerequisites: completion of QR-A; high school algebra, geometry and trigonometry. Not open to those who have taken Physics 201, 207, or 247; open to Freshmen. Recommended for students who do not need a calculus-level course; not recommended for students in the physical sciences and engineering. Videos of the labs may be found here.

104 General Physics. I, II, SS; 4 cr (Elementary, Physical Sciences, C). Continuation of Physics 103. Principles of electricity and magnetism, light, optics, and modern physics, with applications to a number of different fields. Two lectures, two discussions and one two-hour lab per week. Prerequisite: Physics 103. Not open to those who have taken Physics 202, 208, or 248; open to Freshman. Videos of the labs may be found here.

107 The Ideas of Modern Physics. I, II; 3 cr (Elementary, Physical Sciences, C, Quant Reasoning B).  For non-science majors. The twentieth-century physical world picture and its origins. Selected topics in classical physics: relativity, and the quantum theory with emphasis on the meaning of basic concepts and their broader implications rather than practical applications. Three lectures per week. Prerequisites: completion of QR-A; high school algebra and geometry. Not open to students who have taken an intermediate or advanced level physics course; open to Freshmen.

109 Physics in the Arts. I, II; 3 cr (Elementary, Physical Sciences, C, Quant Reasoning B). A course on sound and light for non-science majors. The nature of sound and sound perception; fundamentals of harmony, musical scales, and musical instruments. Studies of light including lenses, photography, color perception, and color mixing. Two lectures and one two-hour lab per week. Prerequisites: completion of QR-A; high school algebra and geometry. Not open to students who have had an intermediate or advanced level physics course, including Physics 371. Open to Freshmen. Honors - Instr Approved. Videos of the labs may be found here.

115 Energy. I or II; 3 cr (Elementary, Physical Sciences, C, Quant Reasoning B). A one-semester introduction, focusing on a central concept: energy, energy sources, and the environment. Gives students the necessary physics background to form opinions on energy questions. The physical laws of thermodynamics, electricity, and magnetism, and nuclear physics in connection with energy related topics such as: thermal pollution, fossil power, fission and fusion, nuclear power, and solar power. Two lectures and one discussion per week. Prerequisites: completion of QR-A; high school algebra and geometry. Not open to students who have taken Physics 103, 201, 207, or 247. Open to Freshmen.

198 Directed Study. I, II, SS; 1-3 cr (E). P: Cons inst. Open to Fr.

199 Directed Study. I, II, SS; 1-3 cr (E). P: Cons inst. Open to Fr.

201 General Physics. I, II, SS; 5 cr (Intermediate, Physical Sciences, C, Quant Reasoning B). Primarily for engineering students. Mechanics: kinematics, statics, dynamics; energy and momentum. Two lectures, two discussions and one three-hour lab per week. Prerequisites: Math 211 or 221 or 1 yr HS calc or cons inst. Not open to students who have had Physics 207. Degree cr will not be given for both Physics 103 and 201. Open to Freshmen. Honors - Instr Approved. Videos of the labs may be found here.

202 General Physics. I, II, SS; 5 cr (Intermediate, Physical Sciences, C). Primarily for engineering students. Electricity, magnetism, light, and sound. Two lectures, two discussions and one three-hour lab per week. Prerequisites: Physics 201 or equivalent. Not open to students who have taken Physics 208 or 248. Open to Freshmen. Honors - Instr Approved.

205 Modern Physics for Engineers. I, II; 3 cr (P-I). Introduction to atomic, solid state, and nuclear physics. Prerequisites: Physics 202 or 208. Not open to those who have had Physics 241 or 244.

206 Special Topics in Physics. I or II or SS; 1-5 cr (I). Special topics in physics at the intermediate undergraduate level. Prerequisites: Prerequisites vary according to topic.

207 General Physics. I, II; 5 cr (Intermediate, Physical Sciences, C, Quant Reasoning B). Recommended for those majoring in science or mathematics. Also suitable for others who have the math prerequisite. Mechanics, heat and sound. Two lectures, two discussions and one three-hour lab per week. Prerequisites: Math 221 or 211 or 1 year high school calculus or instructor consent. Not open to students who have taken Physics 201 or 247; Open to Freshmen; Honors - Instr Approved. Videos of the labs may be found here.

208 General Physics. I, II; 5 cr (Intermediate, Physical Sciences, C).  Continuation of Physics 207. Electricity, magnetism, light, and modern physics. Two lectures, two discussions and one three-hour lab per week; Prerequisites: Physics 201, 207, or 247. Not open to students who have taken Physics 202 or 248; Open to Freshmen; Honors - Instr Approved. Videos of the labs may be found here.

235 Introduction to Solid State Electronics. I, II (Cross listed with ECE); 3 cr (Intermediate, Physical Sciences, C). An introduction to the physical principles underlying solid-state electronic and photonic devices, including elements of quantum mechanics, crystal structure, semiconductor band theory, carrier statistics, and band diagrams. Offers examples of modern semiconductor structures. Prerequisites: Math 222 and Physics 202. Open to Freshmen.

241 Introduction to Modern Physics. I, II; 3 cr (Intermediate, Physical Sciences, C). Kinetic theory; relativity; experimental origin of quantum theory; atomic structure and spectral lines; topics in solid state, nuclear and particle physics. Experiments for this course are covered in Physics 307. Prerequisites: Physics 202 or 208 or 248 and Math 222. Not open to students who have taken Physics 205, 244, or 249. Honors - Instr Approved

247 A Modern Introduction to Physics. I; 5 cr (Intermediate, Physical Sciences, C). Accelerated Honors. Introduction to physics recommended for students who are considering majoring in physics, astronomy-physics, or AMEP. Also suitable for those majoring in other sciences or mathematics who desire a rigorous physics course. Mechanics, waves, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, topics in modern physics; with computation. A more mathematically rigorous and in-depth introduction to physics than the other introductory physics sequences. Three lectures, one discussion, and one three-hour lab per week. Prerequisites: Math 222 or concurrent enrollment or Math 275 or concurrent enrollment. Open to Freshmen. Intended primarily for physics, AMEP, astronomy-physics majors; also suitable for those majoring in science or mathematics.

248 A Modern Introduction to Physics. II; 5 cr (Intermediate, Physical Sciences, C). Accelerated Honors. Continuation of Physics 247. Electromagnetism, circuits, optics, additional topics in modern physics; with computation. Three lectures, one discussion, and one three-hour lab per week. Prerequisites: Physics 247 and (Math 234 or concurrent enrollment or Math 375 or concurrent enrollment). Open to Freshmen. Intended primarily for physics, AMEP, astronomy-physics majors. Not open to students who have had Physics 202 or 208; students will receive degree cr for only one of the following courses: Physics 104, 202, 208, 248.

249 A Modern Introduction to Physics. I; 4 cr (Intermediate, Physical Sciences, C). Accelerated Honors. Continuation of Physics 248. Modern physics: introduction to quantum mechanics, topics from atomic physics, molecular physics, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, and cosmology; with computation. Three lectures and one discussion per week; Prerequisites: Physics 248. Open to Freshmen. Intended primarily for physics, AMEP, astronomy-physics majors.

265 Introduction to Medical Physics. (Crosslisted with Med Phys) II; 2 cr (P-I). Primarily for premeds and other students in the medical and biological sciences. Applications of physics to medicine and medical instrumentation. Topics: biomechanics, sound and hearing, pressure and motion of fluids, heat and temperature, electricity and magnetism in the body, optics and the eye, biological effects of light, use of ionizing radiation in diagnosis and therapy, radiation safety, medical instrumentation. Two lectures with demonstrations per week. Prerequisites: a year course of college-level intro physics.

298 Directed Study. I, II, SS; 1-3 cr (I). Prerequisites: intro physics and cons inst.

299 Directed Study I, II, SS; 1-3 cr (I). Prerequisites: intro physics and cons inst.

301 Physics Today. II; 1 cr (I). A series of weekly presentations and discussions of current research topics in physics, by scientists directly involved in those studies. Provides undergraduates with access to the topics and excitement of the research frontier in a manner not possible in normal subject courses. Prerequisites: Physics 208 or equivalent.

307 Intermediate Laboratory-Mechanics and Modern Physics. I, II; 2 cr (P-A). Experiments in modern physics, with discussion of statistical uncertainties and error analysis. Propagation of error. Available labs include gamma-ray spectroscopy, X-ray physics and diffraction, blackbody radiation, and Cavendish measurement of the gravitational constant G. Prerequisites: Physics 202, 208, or 248. Physics advisors' perspective: prior familiarity with material of Physics 205, 241, or 249 recommended.

311 Mechanics. I, II; 3 cr (P-A). Origin and development of classical mechanics; mathematical techniques, especially vector analysis; conservation laws and their relation to symmetry principles; brief introduction to orbit theory and rigid-body dynamics; accelerated coordinate systems; introduction to the generalized-coordinate formalisms of Lagrange and Hamilton. Prerequisites: Physics 202, 208 or 248, and Math 234 or 375. Physics Advisors’ Perspective: prior familiarity with differential equations (at the level covered in Math 319, 320, or 376) and linear algebra (at the level covered in Math 320, 340, 341, or 375) is recommended.

321 Electric Circuits and Electronics. I; 4 cr (P-A). Direct current circuits, circuit theorems, alternating current circuits, transients, non-sinusoidal sources, Fourier analysis, characteristics of semiconductor devices, typical electronic circuits, feedback, non-linear circuits; digital and logic circuits; three lectures and one three-hour lab per week. Prerequisites: Physics 202, 208 or 248.

322 Electromagnetic Fields. I, II; 3 cr (P-A). Electrostatic fields, capacitance, multi-pole expansion, dielectric theory; magnetostatics; electromagnetic induction; magnetic properties of matter; Maxwell's equations. Prerequisites: Physics 202, 208 or 248, and Math 234 or 375.

323 Electromagnetic Fields. I, II; 3 cr (P-A). Special relativity, electromagnetic momentum, electromagnetic waves: propagation, interference, scattering, reflection and refraction at a dielectric interface, waves in a conductor. Wave packets and group velocity, dispersion. Waveguides and transmission lines. Retarded potentials. Radiation. Prerequisite: Physics 322.

325 Optics. II; 3 cr (Advanced, Physical Sciences, C). Classical and modern optics, including imaging, polarization optics, optical telescopes, optical microscopes, interference and interferometers, optical fibers and fiber-optic communication, optical resonators, lasers, optical modulators, introduction to quantum and nonlinear optics. Concepts covered in lecture reinforced by weekly laboratory experiments. Prerequisites: Physics 202, 208, or 248, and Physics 322 or concurrent enrollment in Physics 322.

371 Acoustics for Musicians. II; 3 cr (Intermediate, Physical Sciences, C, Quant Reasoning B).  Intended for music students who wish to learn about physical basis of sound, sound perception, musical scales, musical instruments, and room acoustics. May not be taken by Physics majors to count as physics credit. Prerequisites: Completion of QR-A, High school algebra. Intended primarily for musicians and others with some music background. Honors - Instr Approved.

406 Special Topics in Physics. I or II; 1-4 cr (A). Special topics in physics at the advanced undergraduate level. Prerequisites: Physics 241 or cons inst.

407 Advanced Laboratory. II; 2-4 cr (P-A). Advanced experiments in classical and modern physics. Possible experiments include beta decay, muon lifetime, nuclear magnetic resonance, Stern-Gerlach atomic beam, Mossbauer scattering, velocity of light, Zeeman effect, and Compton scattering. Techniques for the statistical analysis of experimental data and keeping a proper research lab notebook are emphasized. Two (four) credit students will typically perform four (eight) experiments. Prerequisites: Physics 307 or 308.

415 Thermal Physics. I, II; 3 cr (P-A). Thermodynamics, kinetic theory of gases, and statistical mechanics. Prerequisites: Physics 241, 244, or 205 & 311.

448 Atomic and Quantum Physics. I; 3 cr (P-A). First semester of a two-semester senior course. Review of atomic and other quantum phenomena and special relativity; introduction to quantum mechanics treating the more advanced topics of atomic physics and applications to molecular, solid state, nuclear, and elementary particle physics and quantum statistics. Experiments underlying this course are covered in Physics 407. Prerequisites: Physics 205, 241, or 244, and Physics 311 and 322. Not open to those who have had Physics 531.

449 Atomic and Quantum Physics. II; 3 cr (P-A). A continuation of 448. P: Physics 448.

472 Scientific Background to Global Environmental Problems. (Crosslisted with Atm Ocn, Envir St) I or II; 3 cr (P-D). A one-semester course designed to provide those elements of physics, atmospheric sciences, chemistry, biology and geology which are essential to a scientific understanding of global environmental problems. Specific examples of such problems include global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion, acid rain and environmental toxins. Three lectures per week. Prerequisites: Physics 103, 201, 207 or 247, or Chemistry 103, 108, 109, 115, or 116.

498 Directed Study. I, II, SS; 1-3 cr (A). Prerequisite: Cons inst.

499 Directed Study. I, II, SS; 1-3 cr (A). Prerequisite: Cons inst.

501 Radiological Physics and Dosimetry. (Cross-listed with Med Phys, H ONcol, BME) I; 3 cr (A). Interactions and energy deposition by ionizing radiation in matter; concepts, quantities and units in radiological physics; principles and methods of radiation dosimetry. P: Calculus and modern physics.

507 Graduate Laboratory. II; 2 cr (A). Advanced experiments in classical and modern physics. Possible experiments include beta decay, muon lifetime, nuclear magnetic resonance, Stern-Gerlach atomic beam, Mossbauer scattering, velocity of light, Zeeman effect, and Compton scattering. Techniques for the statistical analysis of experimental data and keeping a proper lab notebook are emphasized. Two (four) credit students will typically perform four (eight) experiments. Undergraduates should register for Physics 407. Prerequisites: Physics 307

525 Introduction to Plasmas. (Crosslisted with NEEP, ECE) I, II; 3 cr (P-A). Basic description of plasmas: collective phenomena and sheaths, collisional processes, single particle motions, fluid models, equilibria, waves, electromagnetic properties, instabilities, and introduction to kinetic theory and nonlinear processes. Examples from fusion, astrophysical and materials processing plasmas. Prerequisites: one course in electromagnetic fields beyond elem physics.

527 Plasma Confinement and Heating. (Crosslisted with ECE, NEEP) Irr.; 3 cr (P-A). Principles of magnetic confinement and heating of plasmas for controlled thermonuclear fusion: magnetic field structures, single particle orbits, equilibrium, stability, collisions, transport, heating, modeling and diagnostics. Discussion of current leading confinement concepts: tokamaks, tandem mirrors, stellarators, reversed field pinches, etc. Prerequisites: NEEP/Phys/ECE 525 or equiv.

531 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics. II; 3 cr (P-A). Historical background and experimental basis, de Broglie waves, correspondence principle, uncertainty principle, Schrodinger equation, hydrogen atom, electron spin, Pauli principle; applications of wave mechanics. Prerequisites: Physics 311 and 322 and a course in modern physics, or equiv, or cons inst. Not open to those who have had Physics 448.

535 Introduction to Particle Physics. II; 3 cr (P-A). Introduction to particles, antiparticles and fundamental interactions; detectors and accelerators; symmetries and conservation laws; electroweak and color interactions of quarks and leptons; unification theories. Prerequisites: Physics 448 or 531 or equiv.

545 Introduction to Atomic Structure. I; 3 cr (P-A). Nuclear atom; hydrogen atom; Bohr-Sommerfeld model, wave model, electron spin, description of quantum electron spin, description of quantum electrodynamic effects; external fields; many-electron atoms; central field, Pauli principle, multiplets, periodic table, x-ray spectra, vector coupling, systematics of ground states; nuclear effects in atomic spectra. Prerequisites: a course in quantum mechanics or cons inst.

546 Lasers. (Crosslisted with ECE) II; 2-3 cr (P-A). General principles of laser operation; laser oscillation conditions; optical resonators; methods of pumping lasers, gas discharge lasers, e-beam pumped lasers, solid state lasers, chemical lasers, and dye lasers; gain measurements with lasers; applications of lasers. Prerequisites: Physics 322 or ECE 420 or equiv; Physics 545, or 449 or 531.

551 Solid State Physics. I, II; 3 cr (P-A). Mechanical, thermal, electric, and magnetic properties of solids; band theory; semiconductors; crystal imperfections. Prerequisites: a course in quantum mechanics or cons inst.

563 Radionuclides in Medicine and Biology. (Cross-listed with Med Phys) I; 2-3 cr (P-I) Physical principles of radioisotopes used in medicine and biology and operation of related equipment; lecture and lab. Prerequisites: Physics 205, 241, or 249, or Graduate standing.

603 Workshop--College Physics Teaching. II; 1-2 cr (P-A) Discussion, practice, and occasional lectures on various aspects of the teaching of physics. Course planning; course materials; lecture, demonstration, and discussion techniques; laboratory; problem solving; examinations, grading, and evaluation. Problems arising in the teaching of physics; levels of difficulty, differences in talents and backgrounds; methods of presentation of various specific topics.

619 Microscopy of Life. (Crosslisted with Anatomy, BME, Chem, Med Phys, Phmcol-M, Radiol) II; 3 cr (I). Survey of state of the art microscopic, cellular and molecular imaging techniques, beginning with subcellular microscopy and finishing with whole animal imaging. Prerequisites: 2nd semester intro physics including light & optics (e.g. Physics 104, 202, 208) or cons inst.

623 Electronic Aids to Measurement. I; 4 cr (Advanced, Physical Sciences, C). Fundamentals of electronics, electronic elements, basic circuits; combinations of these into measuring instruments. Three lectures and one three-hour lab per week. Prerequisites: Undergraduates who have 3 semesters of calculus level physics may enroll with consent of instructor. Honors - Instr Approved

625 Applied Optics. II; 4 cr (P-A). Optical methods in research and technology. Reflection, refraction, absorption, scattering. Imaging. Sources and sensors. Schlieren methods. Interferometry. Instrumental spectroscopy. Fourier optics, image processing, holography. Laser technology, Gaussian beams, nonlinear optics. Prerequisites: three semesters of calculus level physics or equiv. Sr or Grad st or cons inst.

681 Senior Honors Thesis. 3 cr (Advanced, C) Prerequisites: Consent of instructor. Note that no credit for Physics 681 will be received until successful completion of Physics 682. Must be taken as a sequence with Physics 682. Honors - Honors Only.

682 Senior Honors Thesis. 3 cr (Advanced, C) Prerequisites: Consent of instructor. Must be taken as a sequence following Physics 681. Honors - Honors Only.

691 Senior Thesis. 2-3 cr (Advanced, C) Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Note that no credit for Physics 691 will be received until successful completion of Physics 692. Must be taken as a sequence with Physics 692.

692 Senior Thesis. 2-3 cr (Advanced, C). Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Must be taken as a sequence following Physics 691.

 

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