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Independent Study: What is next?

  1. Nov 25, 2014 #1
    Hello everyone, I am new to these forums, so if this question is in the wrong place, I will relocate it. Long story short, my school has no real physics department anymore, but I have an insatiable appetite for it. I was wondering what the next course in a physics sequence would be after University (Calc-Based, Engineering, etc) Physics I and II. I'm a Biochemistry major, so I have at least some math background (I did just fine in Calculus and am teaching myself extra concepts with relative success). It certainly isn't Diff Eq level, but I can hold my own most of the time.

    I would be doing an independent study essentially, and I know that it is no substitute for an actual course, but I'm willing to try to learn what I can as a hobby.

    So, should I go for Electromagnetism next? Solid-state? Classical Mechanics? Intro to relativity? I honestly have not the slightest clue what should come next... Thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 25, 2014 #2
    My undergrad had no physics major and I made it a point to talk to the few physics professors we had individually and ask them if they'd be willing to supervise an independent study course in various topics (I did one in E&M, one in plasma physics). I was a math major, and it was just too convenient and cost effective for me to stay at that university, so I didn't want to transfer out. I ended up doing a master's program in plasma physics and I'm applying to PhD programs now.

    So make sure you talk to your Profs and see if you can get these courses credited as independent study courses.

    However, if you haven't taken Diff. Eq. I would suggest taking a formal course in that (and vector calculus) before venturing into any further physics topics.
  4. Nov 25, 2014 #3
    That sounds interesting. We have two physical chemists on staff and a couple of physicists I believe, although they are adjuncts for whatever reason. I doubt that I would have the skills to apply to a graduate program in physics myself, but hopefully I can find something where I can apply such concepts. I may do that, I know that we do have that as a course listing, an independent study; I will e-mail some of them now.

    Diff Eq will be at least a year away from now unfortunately. I don't think that it is offered again until next Spring.

    Thank you for your reply
  5. Nov 25, 2014 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    At many schools, the next course is an "Introduction to Modern Physics" which includes relativity, some quantum mechanics (not a thorough treatment) and some application areas such as atomic physics, nuclear physics and solid-state physics. There are a number of textbooks intended for such a course: Krane, Beiser, Ohanian, Taylor/Zafiratos/Dubson, etc.

    After that, there are upper-level courses in individual subjects that were already partly covered in the intro courses: classical mechanics, thermodynamics & statistical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, etc.

    Check a few web sites of universities that do offer physics majors and you'll probably see this general pattern, with some variations.
  6. Nov 25, 2014 #5
    Thank you; that was the trend that I was seeing, but some schools were irritatingly giving me an abbreviation (PHYSXXXX) and made me run around trying to look up a course description. It didn't help that I was one my phone.

    At any rate, thank you again. I am going to get a book for Christmas to flip through as an introduction. My school (thankfully) offers Modern Physics, which I plan on trying to take my Junior or Senior year.
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