Which course is right for you depends both on your interests and on the requirements of your particular major or program.

Be sure to check the college catalog and consult with your advisor before registering for any particular course. You can also learn more about course requirements and typical course patterns, as well as Lafayette’s AP and IB Credit policies.

Physics courses at Lafayette can be divided into four broad categories:

  1. General Education Courses
  2. Introductory Courses
  3. Intermediate Courses
  4. Advanced Courses

General Education Courses

These are courses specifically designed for non-science majors. They satisfy the Common Course of Study Lab Science requirement. Current offerings are:

Introductory Courses

These are courses designed to give an introduction to the fundamentals of physics. These courses also satisfy the Common Course of Study Lab Science requirement. There are three main options: Algebra-based, Calculus-based, and Accelerated.

Algebra-based Introductory Physics

Phys 111112: General Physics

This is an introductory survey of the major areas of classical physics, including mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, optics, oscillations, and waves. It makes minimal use of calculus and is appropriate for students in a wide variety of A.B. programs and some B.S. programs.

Calculus-based Introductory Physics

Physics Majors

Physics majors should start with Phys 130: Relativity, Spacetime, and Contemporary Physics,
and then continue with either Phys 131Phys 133 or the Accelerated sequence Phys 151Phys 152.

B.S. Science and Engineering

For most engineering and B.S. science majors, the calculus-based introductory sequence Phys 131Phys 133 is appropriate. These courses give an introduction to physics, including mechanics, oscillations, waves, and electricity and magnetism, and can serve as a strong foundation for further study in either science or engineering.

f you have a strong physics background, the Accelerated Calculus-based Physics 151-152 sequence might be right for you.

  • Physics 131 covers mechanics. It is offered every spring.
  • Physics 133 is a study of electricity and magnetism and waves. It is offered every fall.

Accelerated Calculus-based Introductory Physics

If you have a good background in high school physics, you should consider the accelerated Phys 151Phys 152 sequence, which goes beyond the topics covered in the standard introductory sequence to include such topics as thermodynamics, and to provide you with a more complete introduction to physics.

Intermediate Courses

These are 200-level courses that explore physics beyond the introductory level. These normally have a prerequisite of one of the fundamental courses, but you should check the individual listings and consult with the instructor if in doubt.

  • Phys 215: Introduction to Quantum Physics. Offered every spring.
  • Phys 216: Topics in 20th Century Physics. Offered every other fall.
  • Phys 218: Oscillatory and Wave Phenomena. Offered every spring.
  • Phys 220: Medical and Biological Physics. This also counts as a writing course. Offered spring semester in odd-numbered years.

Advanced Courses

Finally, there are a number of 300- and 400-level courses designed to provide a well-rounded study of all the major areas of physics. There are also opportunities for independent study and thesis work.