Physics and Astronomy Department Courses and Requirements

Student Achievement Goals

We expect that after completion of a physics or astronomy major,

  • Students will understand the important conceptual models used in the core subject areas of physics and astronomy and demonstrate their ability to correctly draw logical conclusions from these models and use them to make accurate quantitative predictions in realistic situations.
  • Students will understand a broad range of experimental, observational and data-analysis techniques and demonstrate their ability to use these techniques in both designing and conducting scientific experiments and observations.
  • Students will develop certain fabrication skills useful in the field, such as the ability to design and construct electronic circuits and other experimental devices.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to read, understand, and critically analyze the physical ideas presented in published textbooks and journal articles.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to present information clearly, logically, and critically, both orally and in writing.
  • Students will demonstrate both understanding and the practical application of the ethical standards implicit in science, such as appropriate attribution of ideas, good recordkeeping, and truthful presentation of data and conclusions.
  • Students will understand the causes and effects of structured inequality and discrimination in the field of physics and astronomy and will demonstrate agency in making the field welcoming and inclusive.
  • Students will be fully prepared for graduate study in physics or astronomy and/or careers in scientifically oriented jobs in the public or private sector.

The courses in our major are explicitly designed to address these goals. Some of the courses focus strongly on developing one or two specific skills in the list above, while others (particularly the introductory course) focus on providing students with a solid foundation in most of the items on the list.