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Quantum Mechanics Curriculum?

  1. Apr 13, 2008 #1
    Edit: It appears I misused the word "curriculum" here. Instead, I think I mean "syllabus," or what material, exactly, in a given course.

    Can someone to point me to the usual curricula of first and second year quantum mechanics courses? Or perhaps a few sample curricula of these courses at certain universities?

    It seems like our QM course is falling behind schedule, and I need to know how much I should know when I transfer (after I get my math degree; I'm only finishing that because I only have one semester to go), so that I don't have to retake the first year of quantum mechanics. I might have to do some studying on my own to catch up, so I ought to be well aware of what I need to know. Note that there's only one semester of QM at this university (a three-credit class), and I suspect it will transfer as a first year QM class.

    At this point, it looks like we will get through no more than chapter 5 of Griffith's book before the semester ends.

    There's simply no way I'm going to finish a physics degree at this university. The physics program at my school is basically being dismantled: the pin-heads running this university is grouping "physics" with "professional studies": business, finance, mass media, industrial arts, etc (it looks like we are going to end up with a sort of pseudo-engineering program, and no actual physics program at all). It was bad enough that the entire physics program is currently taught by two professors, and the administration refused to allow them to hire more. It's unlikely that any higher-level physics courses such as E&M (which, among others, I haven't had yet) will be offered anymore.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2008 #2
    Pick up a copy of QM by David Griffiths. We just went straight through that book for 2 quarters. Got to chapter 9-ish.
  4. Apr 13, 2008 #3
    Two quarters? As in, one quarter is half a semester, so one semester?

    I've got the book (mentioned it in the OP), and we're probably going to make it through or partially through chapter five. And this is one semester of work. If the idea is to cover all of Griffiths in one semester, then we're way behind.
  5. Apr 13, 2008 #4
    No, we have 3 quarters per "year", not counting summer, so 10 weeks per quarter for us.

    There's no way you'll cover the whole book in one semester. 2 would be normal, we would have gotten done with it given a few more weeks easily.

    This was my class last quarter:


    And this is what we covered.


    So just look over each homework to see where we were. Every homework was due the following week.
  6. Apr 13, 2008 #5
    Ah, okay. That's a bit of a relief. I guess the last time I heard "quarter" was in high school, which naturally was a fourth of a school year or half a semester (odd that they would call a third of a year a "quarter," but oh well). Chapter five isn't too far behind, then. I think our original intention was to get through chapter six.

    And thanks for the links. Google hasn't been particularly fruitful for finding sample course descriptions.
  7. Apr 13, 2008 #6
    Yup pretty much. My undergrad class used Ohanion which is pretty much the same thing and we did nearly everything in that book in two quarters.

    I'm a little surprised at the pace because it's not as if Griffiths provides a deep, meaningful but difficult treatise on qm! His series of books are more like the Cliff Notes versions for you to get your feet wet before picking up something more serious and indepth.
  8. Apr 13, 2008 #7
  9. Apr 13, 2008 #8
    My Modern Physics class was absolutely horrid. We spent 8 weeks on the first 2 chapters, which were just relativity (not proofs or anything, just working with it), and then the last two weeks on the last 3 chapters (of the class, not book). As such, we didn't learn anything about QM until actually getting to QM, so I guess we were a bit behind. They're changing that now, but it's too late for me.
  10. Apr 13, 2008 #9
    How much QM do you generally cover in Modern Physics? I think our Modern Physics was pretty fruitful, but that didn't prevent us from spending way too much time in chapter one come our QM course, which consisted mostly of stuff I already knew pretty well from Modern.
  11. Apr 13, 2008 #10
    It was stuff like the spectrum of the hydrogen atom (the stuff Bohr calculated), de Broglie wavelength, Compton scattering, Rutherford scattering, stuff that basically lead to the transition into actual QM.

    But it all went by so fast (since we ran out of time, the prof crammed it all into 2 weeks), that we just started from chapter 1 in Griffiths. Now they will skip ahead, I think, because they are also adding a particle physics class where relativity will be covered more, leaving more time for QM in the Modern physics class.
  12. Apr 13, 2008 #11
    We went through that stuff quite briefly, but we also explored Schrodinger Eqn solutions for a few simple potential wells as well as quantum numbers for atoms. I'd say a fourth of the semester was spent on SR, and the rest on introductory QM. Some of the mathematical formalism was pretty vague, though. Come to think of it, we spent too much time on chapter two in QM as well as chapter one, considering what we accomplished in modern. Actually, we probably spent too much time on those chapters even if we didn't have Modern Physics.
  13. Apr 13, 2008 #12
    We didn't get to the Schroedinger equation Modern. When I opened my QM book for the first time and saw it, I was like "WTF is this?"
  14. Apr 13, 2008 #13
    Really? I'd figure they'd at least mention it, seeing as how it's largely where all this quantum nonsense comes from.

    Edit: Then again, I suppose a lot of the content in Modern Physics was discovered before Schrodinger came up with his equation, and Modern Physics was (in my case) taught from a historical perspective.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2008
  15. Apr 13, 2008 #14
    No, the class was just taught horribly. The professor would randomly stop in his lecture, and look at the class with a face of horror. It was just bizarre.

    But yeah, we spent too much time on Relativity and just didn't have the time to go into Quantum.
  16. Apr 14, 2008 #15
    Modern Physics courses vary quite a bit regarding their coverage of quantum. Some will get as far as tackling the separation of the Hydrogen Hamiltonian in three dimensions. Others will take a Bohr quantization approach. If often comes down to whether the students have had multivariable calculus yet and how much time the prof likes to spend on relativity. However, in any case, the background for quantum (Planck, Bohr, Einstein)should be thoroughly covered in a modern Physics course.
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