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Learning outcomes: Physics

Learning outcomes: Physics

Physics majors will acquire knowledge and skills in the following areas.


Demonstrate conversance with many topics in each of Classical & Relativistic Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Electromagnetism/Optics, Thermodynamics/Statistical Mechanics, and Mathematical Physics, as defined by the commonly-used undergraduate textbooks that we use, e.g. Taylor, Griffiths, McIntyre. Not all topics in each subfield will be mastered or even addressed, but enough will be presented that students will be able to self-teach those not covered.

Multiple representations of scientific information

Demonstrate the ability to translate a physical description to a mathematical equation, and conversely, explain the physical meaning of the mathematics, represent key aspects of physics through graphs and diagrams, and use geometric arguments in problem-solving.

Organized knowledge

Be able to describe the big ideas in physics and articulate how these central concepts recur in physics – oscillations & waves, eigenstates, conservation laws, energy, symmetry, and discrete-to-continuous descriptions.


Demonstrate the ability to justify and explain their thinking and/or approach, both written and oral. Demonstrate the ability to present clear, logical and succinct arguments, including prose and mathematical language. Write and speak using professional norms, and demonstrate an ability to collaborate effectively.

Problem-solving strategy

Demonstrate the ability to organize and carry out long, complex physics problems, articulate expectations for, and justify reasonableness of solutions, state strategy/model and assumptions, and demonstrate an awareness of what constitutes sufficient evidence or proof.

Intellectual maturity

Demonstrate the ability to be aware of what is not understood, as evidenced by asking sophisticated, specific questions; articulating where they experience difficulty; and taking actions to move beyond that difficulty.


Make measurements on physical systems understanding the limitations of the measurements and the limitations of models used to interpret the measurements, computationally model the behavior of physical systems, and understand the limitations of the algorithm and the machine. Complete an experimental, computational or theoretical research project under the guidance of faculty and report on this project in writing and orally to an audience of peers and faculty.