Physics Department

Q: What courses should be taken during the first year?
Intended physics majors and 3/2 engineering students are strongly encouraged to enrolled  in the introductory physics course sequence (Physics 120 and Physics 121 during the Fall and Spring semesters respectively their first year. In addition, students should typically register for the appropriate corequisite math courses: Math 120 or Math 124 when taking Physics 120 and Math 125.
The physics course sequence structure is that of a ladder. It is important to complete introductory and intermediate physics courses in sequence before continuing to the next rung/course. For this reason, taking introductory physics courses starting in the first semester/first year is very strongly recommended. However, it is possible to finish the physics major starting in the sophomore year as well. In such a case, it is highly recommended that a student consult with a member of the physics department for recommendations in doing so since delay in beginning the introductory physics course sequence can create problems later on.
Recommendation summary: Enroll in Physics 120 in the fall of your first year, and schedule Physics 121 for the spring, if you are taking the calculus sequence this year. Otherwise, you can take this introductory sequence in your sophomore year and still complete the essential physics major courses by the end of your senior year. Click here to check Physics course availability and here to check Mathematics course availability.
Important note: 3/2 Engineering students only have three years to complete a major at Clark before transferring to an Engineering school after their junior year. They must take Introductory Physics - Part I (Physics 120) and calculus their first semester.
In addition, we suggest to students to begin taking your required Perspectives and other PLS courses right away. This will provide  students with the maximum  course flexibility in their junior and senior years, a time when students may wish to pursue more specialized or individualized courses in physics and related fields.
Q: What courses should first year students steer clear of?
Students should normally take Introductory Physics 120 and Physics 121 before taking any 200 level courses. Please see the instructor if you feel that you have the background to take an upper level course without talking Introductory Physics. Also note: While it is very strongly recommended that a student begin the physics major by taking Physics 110 and 111 (introductory physics without calculus) can complete the physics major without taking Physics 120 and 121 can complete the physics major without taking Physics 120 and 121. In such a case, a student should consult with a member of the physics department for course recommendations.
Q: If key introductory courses are filled, are there recommended alternatives?
We are almost always able to make room in our introductory courses. If taking 120, for some reason is impossible, a student can take 110, but should do so after a consultation with a member of the physics department.
Q: If I am interested in the 3/2 Engineering Program, whom should I talk to?
You should contact Professor Charles Agosta, who is the advisor for that program. He should be contacted prior to registering for your first semester.
Q: What is a broad introductory physics sequence?
The Department offers two introductory physics sequences: Physics 110-111 is a general introduction covering the major areas of physics in sufficient depth for the needs of pre-medical students (and those planning careers in other health professions), biology majors, and others who are interested in the subject but do not expect to use physical principles in a rigorously quantitative fashion in later studies or in their careers. The mathematics used in the sequence includes algebra and trigonometry.
Physics 120-121 covers much the same material, but uses the full power of the calculus to develop a deeper quantitative sense of the interplay of theory and experiment in the physicist’s understanding of nature. Calculus is a co-requisite, and may be taken at the same time as Physics 120-121. This sequence is designed for potential physics majors, chemistry majors, mathematics majors, and 3/2 engineering program candidates, and is also the right course for others who have the math background and the desire to get the most thorough treatment of physics as a part of their university education.
Because physics is applied to understanding fundamental properties and workings of nature, both of these introductory sequences have laboratory sections as essential elements.
Q: What would be a physics course or course in related areas that you recommend non-physics-majors to take for interest and/or Science Perspective?
The Physics Department offers several courses for Science Perspective credit, including both of the introductory sequences described above. Other available courses offering SP credit are Astronomy 001 and 002, stand-alone courses that both offer an introduction to the main ideas of astronomy as they have come to us from researchers over the centuries and from current-day observations. Astronomy 001 deals a bit more with the universe at all scales, including cosmological questions and the distribution of galaxies throughout the universe; Astronomy 002 deals in somewhat more detail with our closer neighbors, the other planets of our solar system. Both courses provides well-rounded introduction to the most important aspects of astronomy, and each course has an essential observational laboratory component.
The Department offers Discovering Physics, Physics 020, for non-physics-majors who would like to gain an understanding of a few areas of physics in depth. Discovering Physics is entirely lab based, building up the students’ understanding from their own hands-on experiments.
In collaboration with the Environmental Sciences program, we also offer Technology of Renewable Energy, Physics 243, in alternate years. This course, as with our other courses is open to non-majors, assumes no background of university-level physics. This course is aimed at a detailed understanding of the physical underpinnings of one of the most crucial elements of our relationship with our environment, namely the resources, exploitation, values, and side-effects of the use of energy in our technological society.
Several of our advanced courses also carry SP credit, including Oscillations, Waves, and Optics, Physics 130, Quantum Physics Laboratory, Physics 131, and Computer Simulation Laboratory, Physics 127. These courses require a good basic physics background and permission of the instructor is recommended.
The Physics Department offers a course in electronics that is appropriate for students majoring in other sciences, and a variety of advanced physics courses that may be of interest to individual students. The members of the Department would welcome students who wish to discuss any of our courses to see whether they might be suitable for their individual needs and interests.
Q: What if my assigned adviser is in another department?
Professor Ranjan Mukhopadhyay is the undergraduate physics major advisor. Feel free to contact him or any other member of the Physics Department for details on our program if you are assigned an adviser is in another department. We will work with you and your adviser, to help you set up a program that will be best for you. Once you declare physics to be your major, our major advisor will work directly with you to help you tailor our program to your own particular interests.
Q: Where should students or faculty go for more information?
Students and faculty can contact Professor Arshad Kudrolli, Department Chair or Sujata Davis for any other questions.

Revised: 3/2017