Majors and Courses


The Physics major places a strong emphasis on computational and numerical techniques while still retaining the core material common to all physics majors.  Many problems which are not readily solvable using traditional analytic methods will be incorporated into the program, and solutions will invoke numerical integration, computer modeling, and other numerical techniques introduced in the classroom and laboratory.


Math 30, 31, 32 Calculus I, II, III
Differential Equations
Physics 33L, 34L, Principles of Physics or both semesters of the AISS course
Physics 35 Modern Physics
Physics 100 Computational Physics & Engineering
Physics 101 Intermediate Mechanics
Physics 102 Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism
Physics 108* Fortran for Science and Engineering
Physics 114 Quantum Mechanics
Physics 115 Statistical Mechanics
Physics 191, or 188L-190L, or 189L-190L Senior Thesis in Physics

Chemistry 14L Basic Principles of Chemistry
Math 110 Introduction to Engineering Mathematics

* or Computer Science 51, Introduction to Computer Science, or other computer science course chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor.

Keck Science Common Learning Outcomes

Students completing a major in the Keck Science Department should demonstrate the ability to:

1. Use foundational principles to analyze problems in nature.
2. Develop hypotheses and test them using quantitative techniques.
3. Articulate applications of science in the modern world.
4. Effectively communicate scientific concepts both verbally and in writing.

Student Learning Outcomes
When confronted with an unfamiliar physical or dynamical system or situation, our students should be able to:

  • 1. Develop a conceptual framework for understanding the system by identifying the key physical principles, relationships, and constraints underlying the system;
  • 2. Translate that conceptual framework into an appropriate mathematical format/model;
  • 3.  (a) If the mathematical model/equations are analytically tractable, carry out the analysis of the problem to completion (by demonstrating knowledge of and proficiency with the standard mathematical tools of physics and engineering);
    (b) If the model/equations are not tractable, develop a computer code and/or use standard software/programming languages (e.g., Matlab, Maple, Python) to numerically simulate the model system;
  • 4. Intelligently analyze, interpret, and assess the reasonableness of the answers obtained and/or the model's predictions;
  • 5. Effectively communicate their findings (either verbally and/or via written expression) to diverse audiences.

In a laboratory setting, students should be able to:

  • 1. Design an appropriate experiment to test out a hypothesis of interest;
  • 2. Make basic order-of-magnitude estimates;
  • 3. Demonstrate a working familiarity with standard laboratory equipment (e.g., oscilloscopes, DMMs, signal generators, etc.);
  • 4. Indentify and appropriately address the sources of systematic error and statistical error in their experiment;
  • 5. Have proficiency with standard methods of data analysis (e.g., graphing, curve-fitting, statistical analysis, fourier analysis, etc.);
  • 6. Intelligently analyze, interpret, and assess the reasonableness of their experimental results;
  • 7. Effectively communicate their findings (either verbally and/or via written expression) to diverse audiences.