Learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

  • Demonstrate broad and core science proficiency
  • Demonstrate competency in at least two sciences or in a non-science area
  • Apply learning to selection and pursuit of professional or graduate career objective
  • Demonstrate proficiency in communication of scientific or research findings
  • Demonstrate ability to apply the scientific method/approach to professional problems
  • Demonstrate appreciation of the interrelation of core sciences to interdisciplinary problems
 

Special requirements

The Bachelor of Science in Science requires a minimum of 120 credits.

Along with the general education requirements of the undergraduate programs and the College of Humanities and Sciences for a Bachelor of Science degree, this curriculum requires 27 credits in foundation science and mathematics courses and 34 credits in supplemental courses in the concentration. In preparation for the required mathematical sciences courses, all students must take the Mathematics Placement Test. Science majors are strongly encouraged to select a minor in an area different from their area of concentration that will complement their career interests and contribute additional upper-level credits to their curriculum

Grade requirements

A minimum grade of C is required in each prerequisite course:

CHEM   100Introductory Chemistry (if required through placement test)3
CHEM   101General Chemistry3
CHEM   102General Chemistry3
CHEM   301Organic Chemistry3
CHEM   302Organic Chemistry3

A minimum grade of C is required in the following courses before enrollment in advanced BIOL courses:

BIOL   151
BIOZ   151
Introduction to Biological Sciences I
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I
4
BIOL   152
BIOZ   152
Introduction to Biological Sciences II
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory II
4
BIOL   300Cellular and Molecular Biology3

Degree requirements for Science, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) with a concentration in physics

General Education requirements

University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IFocused Inquiry I3
UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IIFocused Inquiry II3
UNIV   200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument3
Approved humanities/fine arts3
Approved natural/physical sciences3-4
Approved quantitative literacy3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences3-4
Total Hours21-24
Additional College of Humanities and Sciences requirements (11-23 credits)
HUMS   202Choices in a Consumer Society1
Approved H&S diverse and global communities3
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)
Approved H&S literature and civilization (fulfills University Core humanities/fine arts)
Approved H&S science and technology (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences)
Approved H&S General Education electives6-8
Experiential fine arts 11-3
Foreign language through the 102 level (by course or placement)0-8
Total Hours11-23
1

Course offered by the School of the Arts

Major requirements

Foundational courses
Select one of the following:4
Biological Concepts
and Biological Concepts Laboratory
Environmental Science
Introduction to Biological Sciences I
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I
Introduction to Biological Sciences II
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory II
CHEM   101
CHEZ   101
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
4
ENVS   301Introduction to Meteorology (or upper-level science elective)3
ENVS   310Introduction to Oceanography (or upper-level science elective)3
Select one of the following:1-3
Capstone Research Experience in Interdisciplinary Science
Or an approved capstone from another science major (biology, chemistry or physics)
MATH   151Precalculus Mathematics (or placement)4
MATH   200Calculus with Analytic Geometry4
PHYS   207University Physics I5
Supplemental courses
MATH   201Calculus with Analytic Geometry4
MATH   301Differential Equations3
MATH   307Multivariate Calculus4
PHYS   208University Physics II5
PHYS   301Classical Mechanics I3
PHYS   320
PHYZ   320
Modern Physics
and Modern Physics Laboratory
4
PHYS   450Senior Physics Laboratory3
Select an additional eight to nine credits from the following:9
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
MATH/OPER 327
Elementary Astronomy
and Elementary Astronomy Laboratory
The Physics of Sound and Music
Or any course allowable for the B.S. in Physics, or a science elective approved by adviser
Total Hours63-65

Open electives

Select 13-27 open elective credits13-27

Total minimum requirement 120 credits

What follows is a sample plan that meets the prescribed requirements within a four-year course of study at VCU. Please contact your adviser before beginning course work toward a degree.

Freshman year
Fall semesterHours
CHEM   101
CHEZ   101
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
4
MATH   151
Precalculus Mathematics
or Calculus with Analytic Geometry
4
UNIV   101 Introduction to the University 1
UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry I Focused Inquiry I 3
Approved diverse and global communities 3
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
CHEM   102
CHEZ   102
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
4
HUMS   202 Choices in a Consumer Society 1
MATH   200
Calculus with Analytic Geometry
or Calculus with Analytic Geometry
4
PHYS   207 University Physics I 5
UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry II Focused Inquiry II 3
 Term Hours: 17
Sophomore year
Fall semester
Select one of the following: 4
BIOL   101
BIOZ   101
Biological Concepts
and Biological Concepts Laboratory
-
BIOL   103
Environmental Science
or Environmental Science
-
BIOL   151
BIOZ   151
Introduction to Biological Sciences I
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I
-
BIOL   152
BIOZ   152
Introduction to Biological Sciences II
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory II
-
MATH   201
Calculus with Analytic Geometry
or Multivariate Calculus
4
PHYS   208 University Physics II 5
UNIV   200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
 Term Hours: 16
Spring semester
MATH   301 Differential Equations 3
PHYS   320
PHYZ   320
Modern Physics
and Modern Physics Laboratory
4
Approved human, social and political behavior 3-4
Approved literature and civilization 3
 Term Hours: 13-14
Junior year
Fall semester
PHYS   103
or MATH   327
Elementary Astronomy
or
3
PHYS   301 Classical Mechanics I 3
PHYS   307 The Physics of Sound and Music (fulfills experiential fine arts gen ed requirement) 3
Approved General Education elective 3-4
Foreign language (101), upper-level open elective or minor elective 3-4
 Term Hours: 15-17
Spring semester
ENVS   301 Introduction to Meteorology (or upper-level science elective) 3
ENVS   310 Introduction to Oceanography (or upper-level science elective) 3
PHYS   450 Senior Physics Laboratory 3
Approved science and technology (if not already fulfilled by BIOL 101 or PHYS 103) 0-3
Foreign language (102), upper-level open elective or minor elective 3-4
Upper-level open elective or minor elective 3
 Term Hours: 15-19
Senior year
Fall semester
BIOL   317
Ecology
or Energy and the Environment
or Energy and the Environment
or Environmental Pollution
or Environmental Pollution
3
ENVS   105
Physical Geology
or Physical Geography: Geomorphology and Soils
3
URSZ   204 Physical Geography Laboratory: Geomorphology and Soils 1
Approved General Education elective 3
Experiential fine arts (if not fulfilled by PHYS/MHIS 307, upper-level recommended) 1-3
Upper-level open elective or minor elective 3
 Term Hours: 14-16
Spring semester
Select one of the following: 1-3
INSC   490 Capstone Research Experience in Interdisciplinary Science -
Or approved capstone from another science major (biology, chemistry or physics) -
Upper-level open electives or minor electives 11-12
Upper-level science elective 3
 Term Hours: 15-18
 Total Hours: 120-132
 

PHYS   101. Foundations of Physics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. For non-science majors. Introduction to the fundamental ideas of physics. The course covers selected topics in mechanics, heat, optics, electricity and magnetism and modern physics. Not applicable toward the physics major. An optional laboratory may be taken with this course. See PHYZ 101L.

PHYS   103. Elementary Astronomy. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A descriptive approach to astronomy dealing with basic features of our solar system, our galaxy and the universe. Not applicable toward physics major. An optional laboratory may be taken with this course. See PHYZ 103L.

PHYS   107. Wonders of Technology. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 5 lecture/laboratory/recitation hours. 4 credits. Introduction to physics concepts involved in everyday technological applications. The course covers selected topics in mechanics, heat, optics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics by depicting their role in common devices. The laboratory focuses on applications of physics principles to everyday real-life situations. Not applicable toward the physics major.

PHYS   201. General Physics. 4 Hours.

Continuous courses; 3 lecture and 3 laboratory hours. 4-4 credits. Prerequisite: MATH   151. Completion of PHYS   201 to enroll in PHYS   202. Designed primarily for life-science majors. First semester: basic concepts of motion, waves and heat. Second semester: basic concepts of electricity, magnetism, light and modern physics. Not applicable toward physics major.

PHYS   202. General Physics. 4 Hours.

Continuous courses; 3 lecture and 3 laboratory hours. 4-4 credits. Prerequisite: MATH   151. Completion of PHYS   201 to enroll in PHYS   202. Designed primarily for life-science majors. First semester: basic concepts of motion, waves and heat. Second semester: basic concepts of electricity, magnetism, light and modern physics. Not applicable toward physics major.

PHYS   207. University Physics I. 5 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture, 1 recitation and 3 laboratory hours. 5 credits. Prerequisite: MATH   200 or permission of instructor. A vector- and calculus-based introduction to the fundamental concepts of mechanics, heat and wave motion.

PHYS   208. University Physics II. 5 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture, 1 recitation and 3 laboratory hours. 5 credits. Prerequisite: PHYS   207. Corequisite: MATH   201. A vector- and calculus-based introduction to the fundamentals of electricity, magnetism and optics.

PHYS   215. Science, Technology and Society. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Examination of scientific breakthroughs that have led to transformational technologies that are continuing to impact society today. Topics include a historical perspective, an understanding of scientific principles and technologies and an examination of how such discoveries have changed society. Not applicable toward physics major.

PHYS   291. Topics in Physical Science. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 1-3 lecture or laboratory hours. 1-3 credits per semester. A study of a selected topic in physics, astronomy, geology, meteorology or oceanography. Not applicable toward physics major. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester and prerequisites.

PHYS   301. Classical Mechanics I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PHYS   208 and MATH   307. Corequisite: MATH   301. Review of vector calculus. Newtonian mechanics: single particle, oscillations, motion under central forces and dynamics of a systems of particles.

PHYS   302. Classical Mechanics II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PHYS   301 and MATH   301. Motion in noninertial frames, dynamics of rigid bodies, coupled oscillators, continuous systems and wave equations in one dimension.

PHYS   307. The Physics of Sound and Music. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: A 100- or 200-level physics course or equivalent and the ability to read music or sing or play a musical instrument, or permission of instructor. Basics of the physics of waves and sound. Fourier synthesis, tone quality, human ear and voice, musical temperament and pitch, physics of musical instruments, electronic synthesizers, sound recording and reproduction, room and auditorium acoustics. Not applicable toward the physics major. Crosslisted as: MHIS   307.

PHYS   315. Energy and the Environment. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing. A study of society's demands for energy, how it is currently being met, the environmental consequences thereof and some discussion of alternatives. Open to non-physics majors; not applicable to the physics major. Crosslisted as: ENVS   315.

PHYS   320. Modern Physics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PHYS   208 and MATH   307. Corequisite: MATH   301. Foundations of modern physics including special relativity, thermal radiation and quantization, wave-particle duality of radiation and matter, Schroedinger equation, atomic, nuclear and particle physics, and molecular structure and spectra. A continuation of PHYS   208.

PHYS   325. Visualization of Physics Using Mathematica. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PHYS   320 or permission of instructor. Visualization of various areas of physics using the Mathematica language for performing numerical calculations and producing graphics and animations. Examples will be taken from classical mechanics, classical electromagnetism, modern physics, statistical mechanics and condensed matter physics.

PHYS   340. Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PHYS   301 and MATH   301. Microscopic theory of temperature, heat and entropy, kinetic theory, multicomponent systems, and quantum statistics. Mathematical relationships of thermodynamics.

PHYS   351. Guided Inquiry for University Physics I. 1.5 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 1 recitation hour. 1.5 credits. Prerequisites: PHYS   207 and permission of instructor. Student learning assistants aid in recitation sections of PHYS   207 University Physics I using guided inquiry and group-based activities. Further develops the core skills of PHYS   207. Introduces students to the principles of active and collaborative learning in physics through practical, hands-on problem-solving, class discussions and demonstrations.

PHYS   352. Guided Inquiry for University Physics II. 1.5 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 1 recitation hour. 1.5 credits. Prerequisites: PHYS   208 and permission of instructor. Student learning assistants aid in recitation sections of PHYS   208 University Physics II using guided inquiry and group-based activities. Further develops the core skills of PHYS   208. Introduces students to the principles of active and collaborative learning in physics through practical, hands-on problem-solving, class discussions and demonstrations.

PHYS   376. Electromagnetism. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PHYS   301 and MATH   301. Electrostatics, magnetism and electromagnetic properties of matter, Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic waves, boundary conditions, and polarization.

PHYS   380. Quantum Physics I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PHYS   301, PHYS   320 and MATH   301, or permission of instructor. Brief introduction to the correspondence between classical and quantum mechanics, Schroedinger wave equation, operator methods in quantum mechanics, angular momentum and conservation laws, solution to harmonic oscillator and the hydrogen atom, magnetic dipole momentum and spin.

PHYS   391. Topics in Physics. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 1-3 lecture hours. 1-3 credits per semester. Maximum total of 6 credits. In-depth study of a selected topic in physics or physics-related technology, usually at a level requiring only elementary algebra. Not applicable toward physics major. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester and prerequisites.

PHYS   397. Directed Study. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-3 credits per semester. Maximum of 3 credits applicable toward physics major requirement; maximum total of 4 credits. Open to nonmajors. Determination of amount of credit and permission of instructor must be obtained before registration of course. Intended to allow nonmajors and majors to examine in detail an area of physics or physics-related technology not otherwise available in upper-level courses. May involve either directed readings or directed laboratory work.

PHYS   420. Quantum Physics II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PHYS   380 or permission of instructor. Transition rates, addition of angular momentum, multi-electron atoms-ground state, X-ray and optical excitations, time independent perturbation theory, relativistic hydrogen atom and the structure of atoms, collision theory, nuclear structure, elementary particles and their symmetries.

PHYS   422. Optics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PHYS   376 or permission of instructor. Comprehensive study of propagation of light, including geometrical optics, polarization, interference, diffraction, Fourier optics and quantum optics.

PHYS   440. Introduction to Condensed Matter Physics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PHYS   340 and 380. Corequisite: PHYS   376. Structure and bonding in solids, phonons, free electron Fermi gas, energy bands, semiconductors, Fermi surface, optical properties and magnetism.

PHYS   450. Senior Physics Laboratory. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 4 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PHYS   301 and 320, and PHYZ   320. Experiments in condensed matter physics with an introduction to the instrumentation and data analysis used in the research laboratory.

PHYS   483. Introduction to Astrophysics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PHYS   320 and PHYS   340. Pre- or corequisites: PHYS   376 and PHYS   380. Basic concepts of star formation and evolution, galactic structures, and cosmology. Includes stellar atmospheres and interiors, the sun, the Milky Way and other galaxies, and black holes.

PHYS   490. Seminar in Conceptual Physics. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Prerequisites: PHYS   340, PHYS   376, PHYS   380 and PHYZ   320. Restricted to seniors in physics with at least 85 credit hours taken toward the degree. A senior capstone course in physics designed to help students formulate physics-related questions in such a way that they can obtain quantitative answers. Students will describe their results in a senior paper and in an oral presentation.

PHYS   491. Topics in Physics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Maximum of 3 credits applicable toward physics major requirement; maximum total of 6 credits. An in-depth study of a selected topic in physics. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester and prerequisites.

PHYS   492. Independent Study. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-3 credits per semester. Maximum of 3 credits applicable toward physics major requirement; maximum total of 8 credits. Open generally to students of only junior or senior standing who have acquired at least 12 credits in the departmental discipline. Determination of the amount of credit and permission of instructor and department chair must be procured prior to registration of the course. Independent projects in experimental or theoretical physics.