Introductory Courses

General Physics

This course is a two-part introductory physics sequence intended for non-physics science majors. Students apply critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills towards learning new concepts in physics and solving computational problems. Your mathematics preparation should be sufficient for you to enter a calculus course. Calculus is not required for this course.

Professors include: Gerald Feldman
Typical text: "College Physics," by Giambattista, Richardson and Richardson

Course Learning Objectives

  1. To develop critical thinking and analytical problem-solving skills
  2. To obtain a basic understanding of the fundamental concepts in physics
  3. To learn to apply these concepts qualitatively as well as quantitatively
  4. To gain an appreciation of how large a role physics plays in your daily life


To apply the material and to deepen problem-solving skills, students meet in cooperative group learning sessions in small groups once a week outside class, starting with the 3rd week of the semester (week of Sept. 12). These sessions consist of two components, the laboratory (hands-on experimentation) part and the recitation (group problem solving) part. Attendance at the sessions is mandatory.

In the laboratory component, students work in pairs to perform an experiment as described in the lab manual and to analyze their data. It is very important that students come to lab prepared: read the lab information in advance and be ready to perform the experiment. At the end of each lab period, every team will show their work to the instructor for inspection. If the work is satisfactory, the instructor will initial on the lab report. Only one report needs to be presented per team. The lab reports will not be graded but will be inspected by the instructor to insure that each report is properly done and complete.

In the recitation component, students work in small groups on specific problems and exercises, using a specific problem-solving framework, the Six-Point-Plan. The problems will be related to the course material and are meant to deepen students' understanding of the material. The instructor will confer with each group and discuss potential difficulties as they arise. This is an excellent opportunity to develop problem-solving skills while students have easy access to the instructor to ask any questions that may arise.

University Physics

This course is a two-part introductory physics sequence intended for science and engineering students. In addition to the regular lecture classes, it has a laboratory and recitation component which students register for at the same time. Mathematics preparation should include an introductory calculus course. If students have questions about their mathematics preparation, they are more than welcome to speak with one of the professors.

Professors include: Frank Lee, Allena Opper , Chen Zeng
Typical text: "University Physics," by Young and Freeman

Course Learning Objectives

  1. To help students develop analytical, graphical and reasoning skills
  2. To help students understand the fundamental concepts of physics
  3. To enable students to apply these concepts qualitatively as well as to quantitatively solve problems in their fields of study


Experiments will be conducted in groups of two or three students. Each student and his or her partner will work as a team to complete each experiment and share their data, but each student will be responsible for writing his or her own lab report.


Each recitation section is supervised by an instructor. These session are designed to provide a smaller setting to help student better understand material covered in class.

Modern Physics

This course covers physical theory formulated since 1905. These theories fundamentally changed the way in which we understand the universe, and sparked revolutions in science, technology, politics, and culture. Students taking this course should at least be concurrently enrolled in a multivariable calculus course. This course is generally offered as a Writing in the Disciplines course, and a term paper is required.

Professors include: Gerald Feldman , Mark Reeves

Sample text: "Modern Physics," by Paul Tipler