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    Davidson College
  Feb 23, 2018


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Professors: Belloni (on leave Fall 2013), Boye, Cain, Christian (Chair), Gfroerer
Associate Professors: Yukich
Visiting Assistant Professor:  Thompson

Major Requirements

Physics 120 or 130 is a prerequisite to a major in physics. Only with specific permission of the department chair can Physics 118 satisfy this prerequisite. The major consists of ten physics courses: 200, 220 or 230, 310, 320, 330, 335, 350, and 360; the mathematics requirement; and one course chosen from courses numbered 400 to 460. If Physics 201 is not taken to fulfill the mathematics requirement, then an additional physics course is required at the 400 level with the approval of the department.

Mathematics Requirement

Either Physics 201 or both Mathematics 150 and 160 will satisfy the mathematics requirement.  The math requirement should be satisfied by the end of the sophomore year if possible.  Physics 201 may not be taken in the senior year to satisfy this requirement.

Major Requirements (Engineering Dual Degree (3-2) Track)

Students seeking to complete the dual degree engineering (3-2) track with a physics major are required to take the following courses in order to receive a B.S. degree in Physics from Davidson: Physics 230, 310, 320, 335; the mathematics requirement; and two courses chosen from 330, 350, and 360.

Minor in Astrophysics Requirements

A minor in Astrophysics consists of the departmental mathematics requirement and five courses: Physics 106, 220 or 230, 320, 330, and 410.  Physics 200 is recommended.  A student may do a major in physics or a minor in physics, but not both.

Minor in Experimental Physics Requirements

A minor in Experimental Physics consists of six courses: Physics 106 or 116, 220 or 230, 310, 320, 335, and one additional Physics course numbered 200 or above. A student may do a major in physics or a minor in physics, but not both.

Honors Requirements

In addition to completing the requirements for a major in physics, a candidate for honors in physics must submit a written thesis covering an independent research project. Such a project may be based upon work completed in Physics 495, 496, or in an undergraduate research program on or away from campus that is approved by the department. Applications for honors in physics should be made in writing to the chair of the department no later than the end of the junior year.

The awarding of honors in physics is based on:

  1. An overall average of at least 3.2, with an average of at least 3.5 in physics courses taken at Davidson.
  2. An acceptable score on the Graduate Record Examination in Physics.
  3. An oral presentation of the research in a departmental seminar.
  4. The favorable vote of the physics faculty concerning the qualities of the candidate, the course of study, the written thesis, and the oral defense.

Applied Mathematics Concentration

Students who are interested in applied mathematics are encouraged to consider the Applied Mathematics Concentration. The concentration offers a track for students interested primarily in the natural sciences and another track for students interested primarily in the social sciences. The concentration is described in detail in this catalog under concentrations.

Computer Science Concentration

Students who are interested in computer science are invited to investigate the Computer Science Concentration. This concentration is described in detail in this catalog under concentrations. Physics courses involved in the computer science concentration are Physics 200, 310, and 397. Mathematics courses in the concentration are listed under the Mathematics Department. The student who intends to pursue graduate study in computer science should major in physics or mathematics or take upper-level physics and math courses to augment the Computer Science Concentration.

Licensure in Secondary School Teaching

Students seeking North Carolina licensure (certification) in the teaching of secondary school physics  must complete (1) Physics 120 or 130 or (with permission) 118 , 220 or 230, 320, 398; (2) the department mathematics requirement ; and, (3) one additional physics or physical-science course, such as geology or chemistry, approved by the  Physics Department Chair.  Computational Physics modeling (Physics 200) and Electronics and Instrumentation (Physics 310) are recommended.

Students seeking Physics licensure are required to take Education 400: Organization for Teaching. Approximately one-third of this course is taken under the direct supervision of a Davidson College instructor, who holds a teaching license in science, and focuses on the teaching applications outlined in the Standards for High School Science Teachers, especially the implementation of lessons that engage students in the process of hands-on, minds-on scientific inquiry (Standard 5).  See the Davidson Department of Education web site for more information.

Rationale for Course Numbering

The 100-level courses in Physics are open to all students. Courses numbered between 100 and 115 are topical in nature and are primarily for non-science majors, and courses numbered 120 and 130 are entry-level introductory courses at the algebra- and calculus-based levels, respectively, for both majors and non-majors.  

The 200-level courses are second-level introductory courses open to all students who have taken PHY 120 or 130 or, in the case of PHY 201, who have taken MAT 135.  

The 300-level courses are intermediate-level courses designed for physics majors and other students who have the suitable prerequisites. PHY 310, 320, and 330 are open to students who have taken PHY 220 or 230. PHY 335, 350 and 360 are open to students who have taken previous 300-level courses. 

The 400-level courses are advanced courses available only to physics majors or other students with the proper prerequisites. Independent study and independent research courses numbered 390-399 and 490-499 are available to qualified students with permission of the instructor.

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