Changes effective Fall Term 2018

Cannaday Coyle Fonseca Fuse
Moore Murdaugh

Physics encompasses more than the study of matter and energy. It seeks general principles behind phenomena as diverse as wispy elementary particles and gigantic galaxies.

Physics courses provide a pathway towards that understanding through laboratory and computer analysis and mathematical and computer modeling. Our laboratories are especially well equipped and our major emphasizes the development of sound laboratory skills. The major also stresses mathematics, the language of physics.

Physics provides a foundation for students interested in engineering -- the application of physical principles to the design of products and processes needed in today's technological world. Future engineers may concentrate in physics for the first three years at Rollins and then transfer to one of the engineering schools with which the college participates in a 3-2 dual-degree program. For further information, contact the coordinator, Christopher Fuse.

Some graduates teach or work in industry while others pursue masters of business administration degrees (M.B.A.). Many physics majors go on to graduate school in specialized areas of physics, while others continue in such fields as astronomy, oceanography, materials science, and applied physics. Since physics majors know how to solve problems and use technology, they find interesting jobs with or without a higher degree.


Fifteen (15) courses are required.

  • PHY 130 Principles of Physics I
  • PHY 131 Principles of Physics II
  • PHY 220 Math Methods for Physical Sciences I
  • PHY 221 Math Methods for Physical Sciences II
  • PHY 230 Modern Physics
  • PHY 232 Experimental Physics II
  • PHY 300 Introduction to Thermodynamics
  • PHY 308 Mechanics
  • PHY 314 Electromagnetic Theory I
  • PHY 315 Electromagnetic Theory II
  • PHY 325 Computational Physics
  • PHY 396 Physics Seminar
  • PHY 411 Modern Optics
  • PHY 412 Experimental Optics
  • PHY 451 Quantum Physics I
Students without a strong background in physics and mathematics may wish to take MAT 111/MAT 112 and PHY 120 before beginning the sequence for the major.

Students who wish to continue physics in graduate school should consider the following electives:

  • CHM 120 Chemistry
  • CHM 305 Physical Chemistry
  • PHY 452 Quantum Physics II
  • PHY 498 Physics Research

Students who intend to transfer to an engineering school via the 3-2 program with a concentration in physics must complete all required courses for a physics major below the 400 level. Additionally, they must pass CHM 120 Chemistry, CHM 305 Physical Chemistry andCMS 167A/167B Introduction to Computing.


Nine (9) courses are required.

  • PHY 130 Principles of Physics I
  • PHY 131 Principles of Physics II
  • PHY 220 Math Methods for Physical Sciences I
  • PHY 221 Math Methods for Physical Sciences II
  • PHY 230 Modern Physics
  • PHY 308 Mechanics
  • PHY 314 Electromagnetic Theory I
  • PHY 396 Physics Seminar
  • PHY 451 Quantum Physics I

Course of Study

PHY 105 Evolution of the Universe:
Examines characteristics of galaxies, red-shift and Hubble relationship, and quasars, then considers modern cosmological models of how universe has developed into present state. For non-science majors with little or no prior knowledge of physics.

PHY 108 Nuclear Power, Nuclear Arms, and Nuclear War: Measures impact of nuclear energy in today's technological world, presenting both sides of controversial issues. Intended for non-science majors with no prior knowledge of physics.

PHY 112 Astronomy: Describes characteristics and evolution of solar system, structure and properties of stars and galaxies, and evolution of universe. Requires one formal observing session each week for constellation and star identification through binocular and telescopic observations. Intended for non-science majors with no prior knowledge of physics.

PHY 114 Contemporary Physics: Explores basic ideas of time, motion, and forces, as well as atomic and nuclear physics. When offered with laboratory, hands-on exercises feature fundamental concepts and applications of physics. Intended for non-science majors with no prior knowledge of physics.

PHY 115 The Physics of Music: Explores the physical principles of music and musical instruments. Topics include the scientific basis for music and the physics of brass, woodwind, and string instruments. Intended for non-science majors with no prior knowledge of physics.

PHY 117 An Introduction to Lasers and Light: Touches upon paint mixing, stage lighting, visual illusions, random-dot stereograms, lenses and curved mirrors, optical interference, iridescence, mirages, rainbows, and aurora. Uses interactive demonstrations to explain common and unusual optical effects. Intended for non-science majors with no prior knowledge of physics.

PHY 120 General Physics I: Introduces motion, forces, work, energy, waves, and conservation laws to students interested in science. Stresses interactive teaching and learning in all meetings, including required lab. Highlights theory and problem solving.

PHY 121 General Physics II: Discusses electric and magnetic forces and energies, electric circuits, optics, and foundations of modern physics. Lab required. Prerequisite: PHY 120.

PHY 130 Principles of Physics I: Introduces the concepts of motion, forces, work-energy, and conservation laws using calculus. Lab required. Corequisite: MAT 111 or equivalent preparation.

PHY 131 Principles of Physics II: Addresses electrostatics, direct and alternating currents, electric and magnetic fields, and geometrical and physical optics. Uses calculus. Corequisite: MAT 112 or equivalent preparation. Prerequisite: PHY 130.

PHY 200 Conceptual Physical Science: Presents basic ideas of physics and selected topics in earth science and astronomy. Integrates required lab, practical activities, and computer work with daily discussions. Prerequisite: elementary education major or consent.

PHY 205 Stellar Evolution and Cosmology: Life cycles of stars including supernovae, white dwarves, neutron stars, and black holes. Characteristics of galaxies, red-shift and the Hubble relationship leading to modern models of cosmic evolution. Upper-level elective for science majors. Prerequisites: MAT 112 and PHY 121 or131.

PHY 220 Math Methods for Physical Sciences I: Covers series expansions, complex numbers, linear algebra, and multi-variable calculus. Prerequisite: MAT 112 or equivalent preparation.

PHY 221 Math Methods for Physical Sciences II: Continuation of PHY 220. Investigation of higher mathematics continues with vector analysis, integral transforms, ordinary and partial differential equations, and probability and statistics. Prerequisite: PHY 220.

PHY 230 Modern Physics: Investigates 20th-century revelations about atoms and light, in contrast to the predictions of classical physics. Includes an in-depth quantitative analysis of Einstein's theory of relativity, quantum theory, statistical distributions, and nuclear physics. Prerequisite: PHY 131.

PHY 232 Experimental Physics II: Second course in experimental technique in which the design, construction, and analysis of experiments in modern physics are emphasized. Focus on experimental design; the collection, processing, and dissemination of data; the application of standard statistical models; and methods of interpretation and analysis of data. Strong laboratory component. Prerequisite/Corequisite: PHY 230.

PHY 240 Introduction to Astrophysics. Addresses the application of atomic and nuclear physics to the problems of galaxy formation and astronomical spectroscopy. Investigates the basic scientific principles of planet formation and observational astronomy. Prerequisites: PHY 220 and PHY 230.

PHY 300 Introduction to Thermodynamics: Examines the laws of thermodynamics, Maxwell's relations, and illustrative applications of thermodynamics. Introduces kinetic theory, Boltzmann Equation, and statistical mechanics. Prerequisite: PHY 220.

PHY 308 Mechanics: Discusses Newtonian, Lagrangian, and Hamiltonian mechanics of particles and rigid bodies. Analyzes nonlinear dynamical systems with computer simulations. Prerequisites: PHY 131 and PHY 220. Corequisite: PHY 221 or consent.

PHY 314 Electromagnetic Theory I: Applies advanced mathematical techniques to the study of electromagnetics, emphasizing the solutions to Laplace's equation, vector analysis, and multipole approximations. Gives vector treatment of electrostatic and magnetostatic fields in vacuum and in matter, based on Maxwell's equations. Prerequisites: PHY 131 andPHY 221.

PHY 315 Electromagnetic Theory II: A continuation of PHY 314 with emphasis on electro- and magneto-dynamics and time-varying phenomena including electromagnetic radiation. Prerequisite: PHY 314.

PHY 325 Computational Physics: This course introduces the student to the methods of computational physics, emphasizing numerical solutions to integral and differential equations. Prerequisite: PHY 221.

PHY 396 Physics Seminar: Traces evolution of physics and its place in modern society. Discusses readings from classical literature and current journals. Prerequisites: junior/senior standing and physics major/minor or pre-engineering major.

PHY 411 Modern Optics: This course consists of a survey of geometric, physical and quantum optics. Subjects include the design of optical components, systems of lenses, polarization and birefringence, coherence, Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction, Fourier optics, laser physics, and nonlinear optics. Corequisite: PHY 412. Prerequisites: PHY 221 and PHY 230.

PHY 412 Experimental Optics: This course introduces the students to experimental techniques used in the study of optics. Optical equipment, design criteria, and methodology are presented in class; then the students are expected to design and build optical instruments to specification. Corequisite: PHY 411. Prerequisite: PHY 315 and PHY 232.

PHY 451 Quantum Physics I: This course begins with early atomic models, wave aspects of particles, Schroedinger equation, quantum mechanical solution of one-dimensional potential barriers and wells, periodic potentials, and three-dimensional bound-state systems. Prerequisite: PHY 221 .

PHY 452 Quantum Physics II: This is a continuation of the study of quantum physics that emphasizes applications of quantum mechanics to atomic physics, solid-state physics, and nuclear physics. Students also examine elementary perturbation theory, theory of angular momentum and spin, and quantum statistics. Prerequisite: PHY 451.

PHY 498/499 Physics Research: Requires independent research in such fields as acoustics, optics, astrophysics, condensed matter, quantum, or computational physics.