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Your physics bachelor program

  1. Jun 30, 2005 #1

    I'm curious about what your curriculum and book list look like.

    I've looked at the webpage of the university I'll begin at this fall, and was a bit perplexed to see that many courses are based on custom made issues (for courses like mechanics and such), not books. Also, in the 1. and 2. semester there's only mathematics (diff.eq, calculus, linear algebra, books by: Robert A. Adams, David C. Lay, and William E. Boyce), and no physics... ?

    So, is this normal? Could you guys tell how the beginning of your bachelor degree looks like?

    Book recommendations would be great. I don't mind spending a couple of 100 dollars (or more), to ensure me surviving my degree...
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2005 #2


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    You can't be a physicist,unless you some mathematics,so the first year of uni studies are for mathematical preparation and intro.physics courses.Serious matter should start in the second year.

    My first year had
    *Mathematical Analysis
    *Abstract & Linear Algebra.
    *Analytical & Differential Geometry.

    for the maths part.And intro to mathematical physics alongside
    *CTPCN formulation of nonrelativistic thermodynamics.
    *Electricity & Magnetism.
    *Classical Mechanics (the Newtonian formulation of Classical Particle Mechanics).
    *General Chemistry (intro course for the physics stud.)

  4. Jun 30, 2005 #3
    In my first year i had

    calculus (one and multiple variables)
    linear algebra
    analytical and differential geometry
    theoretical mechanics (classical mechanics of point particles and intro to Euler equations and the Hamilton and Lagrange formalism)
    intro to EM/special relativity
    intro to optics
    intro to scientific philosophy/science
    programming (JAVA)

    second year

    QM introduction

    intro to nuclear physics

    intro to atomic physics

    intro to relativistic mechanics (special relativity that is)


    complex calculus (complex integration, Z-transform, distributions, Laplace transform and the invers bromwich integral)


    computational physics (the stuff on Newton Cotes, Peano, Sturm Liouville)

    intro to astrophysics and spherical tri-geometry

    mechanics of rigid bodies, Euler kinematics

    crystallography : boring

    Electromagnetism : the stuff on Green-functions and potentials, skin effect, cerenkov radiation, Lienard-Wiechert potentials and a little intro on plasma physics, local Maxwell equations,...

    Last edited: Jun 30, 2005
  5. Jun 30, 2005 #4


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    Here is the latest thread on physics books reccomandations.Actually there's a pretty solid list in my post on the second page.

  6. Jun 30, 2005 #5
    "I've looked at the webpage of the university I'll begin at this fall, and was a bit perplexed to see that many courses are based on custom made issues (for courses like mechanics and such), not books."

    A few courses were run like this in my school, part of my calculus was run like this, and all of linear algebra (they issued bound "notes" they sold to us for about 15$, made by professors at the school). In relativity our teacher had his own notes he teached from, and then recommended another book if we wanted extra reading. So without knowing how it is at other schools, i'd say it's not uncommon, and i rather liked it, since i saved lots of money on books by buying cheaper notes that he taught from.

    As far as recommendations, i just finished (the exam is in 12 hours :) ) an intro to EM and we used Griffiths "Introduction to electrodynamics", and i think it's the best book i've read. It's really clear and easy to read, always stops to explain things when you might be wondering about something he just said.
  7. Jun 30, 2005 #6
    Marlon where are you going to school?
  8. Jun 30, 2005 #7
    I year (number of credits: measuring the Student's required commitment)

    I sem.
    Introduction to Physics 4
    Calculus I-II (functions of 1 real variable) 8
    Geometry and linear algebra 6
    Intro to Inf.Tech. 4
    Chemistry 6
    English 4

    II sem.
    Mechanics 8
    Calculus III 4
    Programming I (intro to C++) 4
    Laboratory I (Mechanics, thermology) 8
    Compl. of geometry (spect. theory,diff.geom) 4

    II year

    Electrom. 8
    Calculus IV 4
    Analytic Mechanics 4
    Programming II 4
    Group theory 4
    Free choice (maybe archit. of computers) 4

    Thermodynamics 4
    Waves and Optics 4
    Statistical Mechanics 4
    Laboratory II (El., optics, therm.) 8
    Relativity and Quanta 6
    Diff. equations 4

    III year

    Intro to quantum Mechanics 6
    Mathematic methods for Physics I 6
    Intro to Physics of Matter 6
    Intro to Physics of the solid state 4
    Intro to Mathematic Physics 4
    Laboratory of modern Physics 8

    Nuclei and Particles 4
    Probabilistic methods for Physics 4
    Mathematic methods for Physics II 4
    Training 10
    Thesis 6
  9. Jun 30, 2005 #8
    what exactly do you guys learn in differential geometry in first year? I'm thinking we just call it calculus in canada but i could bt wrong.
    To get my astrophysics minor..

    First year
    Physics I Intro Physics II Modern
    CHem I Chem II
    Calc I Calc II
    Alg I
    Psych I

    2nd year
    Vector Calculus
    Numerical Methods

    3rd year
    Astrophysics I: Stellarphysics
    QM I: Modern
    MathPhys I

    4th year
    Astrophysics II: Cosmology
    QM II: Quantum

    5th year
    Computational Physics

    courses that i wanted to take AnalMech Advanced(classical Mech)
    & a course in particle physics that I wanted to create with a Dr. Pudritz willing to teach
    but I only got 5/10 students required to make the course...
  10. Jun 30, 2005 #9
    Differential Geometry is not Calculus.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2005
  11. Jun 30, 2005 #10
    Differential geometry deals with: parametric curves, torsion, Frénet frame and formulae, surfaces ecc...

    Calculus is the same as Analisis: real and vectorial functions, limits, differential calculus, integral calculus, series, variational calculus, differential equations ecc...
  12. Jun 30, 2005 #11
    man, belgium is hardcore! :eek:

    i'm at the university of florida, and this is what a double major in math and physics looks like, with the honors physics course sequence. (ie, what i'm doing):

    first sem
    enriched physics I and physics I lab
    chem I and chem I lab
    calc II

    second sem
    enriched physics II and physics II lab
    chem II
    calc III
    diff eq

    functions of a complex variable

    third sem
    thermal physics
    intro to theoretical physics (really should be called mathematical methods; it substitutes for mechanics I)
    linear algebra

    fourth sem
    EM 1
    classical mech II (known as analytical mechanics elsewhere)
    enriched modern physics

    fifth sem
    EM 2
    quantum mechanics I
    mathematical statistics I: intro to probability

    sixth sem
    quantum mechanics II
    stat mech
    abstract algebra

    seventh sem
    advanced lab I
    advanced calc I

    eighth sem
    advanced lab II
    advanced calc II

    this gives a good idea of what's required for both degrees, although the order is certainly not unique. i also want to squeeze in intermediate differential equations and partial differential equations, and take intro to solid-state, which is an introductory grad-level course here.
  13. Jun 30, 2005 #12
    Differential geometry deals with: parametric curves, torsion, Frénet frame and formulae, surfaces ecc...

    Is that for first year Differential Geometry?

    anyhow in canada we include parametric Curves,Torsion and surfaces as part of Calculus first year.
  14. Jun 30, 2005 #13


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    Freshman Year: --as an EE major

    Analytic Geometry, Vectors, Matrices
    Calculus I, II
    Physics I (Tipler)
    Engineering Design
    Computer Programming
    General Chemistry
    Physical Chemistry

    Vector Calculus

    Sophomore Year:

    Electric Circuits
    Engineering Mechanics (Beer-Johnston)
    Physics II (Tipler)

    --- started to drop out of EE
    Modern Physics (Tipler)
    Computer Graphics
    Selected Topics in Math
    Classical Mechanics (Goldstein)
    PDEs (Berg)

    Junior Year: --transferred, now a Math and Physics major

    Math Methods/ODE (Kreyszig)
    Differential Geometry (curves)
    EM (Purcell)
    Mechanics (Symon)

    Math Methods/Complex (Marsden)
    Differential Geometry (surfaces) (Kreyszig?)
    EM II (notes)
    Quantum (French-Taylor)
    Relativity (Skinner)
    Special Topics

    Senior Year:

    Abstract Algebra (Fraleigh?)
    Thermo (Kittel)
    Quantum II
    Tutorial Advanced Topics: GR (Lawden)
    EM-G (Ohanian)

    Linear Algebra (Lang)
    EM II-G (Ohanian)
    Relativity-G (Landau/Lifshitz)
    +my last 4 humanities courses (ugh...)

    I should add that a few of these courses were not required by the program... some of them I just really wanted to take.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2005
  15. Jun 30, 2005 #14


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    Astronomy Major.

    Year 1:

    Mechanics I
    Mechanics II
    Calculus I
    Calculus II

    Year 2:

    Quantum Physics
    EM I
    Astronomy I
    Astronomy II
    Calculus III
    Calculus IV

    Year 3:

    EM II
    Extragalactic Astronomy
    Solar System
    Applied Diff Eqs
    Partial Diff Eqs
    Calculus V
    Complex Variables

    Year 4:

    Atomic/Molecular Physics
    Nuclear Physics
    Quantum Mechanics I
    Astrophysics I
    Astrophysics II
    Radio Astronomy
    Galactic Astronomy

    Right now I'm in the middle of second year. This fall I take Electronics, Calculus III, Astronomy II and my elective which is Geophysics.
  16. Jun 30, 2005 #15
    Honours UofM

    Year 1

    Waves and Modern Physics
    Calculus 1
    Calculus 2
    Linear Algebra

    Electives (in my case)
    Elements of Discrete Mathematics
    Science and Religion
    Evil in World Religions
    Death and Concepts of the future

    Year 2

    Optics + 1/2 lab
    Introduction to Theoretical Physics
    Quantum Physics 1
    Electromagnetic Feild Theory
    Circuit Theory + 1/2 lab
    Classical Mechanics 1
    Calculus 3A

    Electives (in my case)

    Year 3

    Classical Mechanics 2
    Electromagnetism and Special Relativity
    Quantum Physics 2
    Honours Physics Lab
    Linear Spaces for Physicists
    Applied Complex Analysis

    Electives (I'm currently undecided)

    Year 4

    Quantum Physics 3
    Introduction to Nuclear Physics
    Introduction to Solid State Physics
    Honours Physics Lab

    Electives (Not there yet)

    So that's what my undergrad looks like
  17. Jul 1, 2005 #16
    University of Ghent in Belgium

  18. Jul 1, 2005 #17

    we also studied those subjects all together with stuff like Gauss curvature, Gauss's Theorema Egregium,..

  19. Jul 1, 2005 #18
    In my first year of Physics and Astrophysics, I had:

    Core Physics 1: Classical Mechanics and Relativity, Optics and Waves, Quantum Mechanics
    Core Physics 2: Electromagnetism, Electric Circuits, Temperature and Matter (mostly thermodynamics, some stuff like bulk modulus, too)
    Physical Maths 1 (algebra, complex numbers, vectors, differentiation, applications of differentiation)
    Physical Maths 2 (integration, first and second order differential equations, partial derivatives, multiple integrals)
    Intro to Astronomy
    Physics Lab 1
    Physics and Communication Skills (waste of time. We did some computing, firstly word processing and spreadsheets, then MathCad. We also did a group poster and had to write an essay and give a talk to our tutorial groups)
  20. Jul 1, 2005 #19
    This is so hard to imagine for me. In our universities i really do not know of any specific subjects on this matter.

  21. Jul 1, 2005 #20
    Well if we're doing years, then i have:

    Math Intro (assumes decent knowledge of calculus, goes into multiple variables etc)
    Linear Algebra
    Math for physicists (PDE's and vector calculus)
    Classical mechanics,
    Special relativity
    Thermodynamics (mostly statistical)
    Electromagnetism (just finished today \o/ )
    And one physics based elective (astro/bio/geo)

    Then after this first yaer it all depends on what path you choose, everyone has two quantum courses, and other then that it's (physics) electives.
  22. Jul 1, 2005 #21
    Yeah, I'm not sure how common over here courses like that are. Most universities here seem to teach programming as part of the first year computing, but we had to get office stuff and MathCad :rolleyes:. The word processing stuff they made us to seemed to be the most pointless thing. We were given documents, like biographies of physicists with images and text and had to reproduce them exactly. I mean, come on, it's not hard to format documents. The students that just finished their first year had C++ instead of the spreadsheets/word processing.
  23. Jul 1, 2005 #22
    Yes for the first year.

    Actually, the subject is included in both "Calculus III" (for integrals) and "Complements of Geometry" (more specifically)
  24. Jul 1, 2005 #23
    do you guys ha e course called vector calculus? Topics include
    div/curl, flowe field, parametric Curves and Surfaces,torsion/BNK-B(don't remember the term???/Normal/curvature,
    triple integrals, stokes Theorem Gauss theorem
  25. Jul 1, 2005 #24


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    Nope,those were parts from our Analysis and Intro to Mathematical Physics courses.

  26. Jul 1, 2005 #25
    Year 1:

    • Physics 1 - Mechanics and Thermodynamics
    • Physics 2 - Electromagnetism and Optics
    • Physics 3 - Modern Physics
    • Mathematical Methods of Physics 1 - Multivariable/Vector Calculus, Linear Algebra and ODE.
    • Calculus
    • C programming

    Year 2:

    • Quantum Mechanics 1
    • Electricity and Magnetism 1
    • Classical Mechanics
    • Mathematical Methods of Physics 2 - Special Functions, Complex Calculus and PDE.
    • Optics
    • Thermal and Statistical Physics
    • Lab.
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