Physicists are concerned with understanding the fundamental laws of Nature. The pursuit of that understanding leads to many practical applications. Physics is a rewarding area of study because it provides both a basis for understanding the natural world and modem technology, and satisfies one's intellectual curiosity. The fundamental character of physics makes it a discipline that is central to the liberal arts. The Physics curriculum at Western provides opportunities for students to take course work that supports other scientific and technical disciplines, to complete an academic major or minor, or to prepare for physics and engineering programs at other institutions.
The courses listed for each of the following emphases are the minimum requirements. Higher-level supporting courses may be appropriate for students pursuing certain careers. Students should consult with their advisors for proper course selections. All majors require a Capstone Course.
Capstone Course Requirement
The following course in the Applied Physics/Pre-Engineering Major fulfill the capstone course requirement: PHYS 495.
An overview of the historical development of astronomy and the basic physical principles that are relevant to it. The overall structure of the Universe is studied and its various components examined. Includes limited observational activities. Prerequisite: completion of the general education essential skills mathematics requirement. GT-SC2
A practical introduction to the physics of sound, with emphasis on music. Students investigate the properties of sounds produced by musical instruments. Topics include periodic functions, waves, resonance, overtones, frequency spectra, digital sound production and basic acoustic principles. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 19 or above; SAT math score of 500 or above; MATH 099 or university-level math requirement with a minimum grade of “C-”; or Accuplacer Advanced Algebra and Functions test score of 245 or above.
A summary of the structure of the Earth's atmosphere, worldwide weather disturbances, weather forecasting, and snow avalanches. This course may not be taken for credit toward the Physics Minor. GT-SC2
A practical study of energy generation and its environmental impact, including the physics of energy fundamentals, fossil fuel use, alternative energy uses, and energy conservation. Primarily for non-science majors, this course will qualitatively detail basic physical principles behind the use of energy, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and thermodynamics. This course is designed to provide the student with a physicist's perspective on energy use and environmental issues. Prerequisite: completion of the general education essential skills mathematics requirement. GT-SC2
A semi-quantitative introduction to the fundamental concepts of physical science, particularly the laws of physics as they relate to the structure of matter. Laboratory experiences play an important role in the investigations. This course may not be taken for credit toward the Physics Minor. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 19 or above; SAT math score of 500 or above; MATH 099; Accuplacer Advanced Algebra and Functions test score of 245 or above. GT-SC1
A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, and many-particle systems. A mathematical proficiency at the level of university algebra is recommended. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: MATH 141. GT-SC1
A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics, using the concepts of calculus as a tool. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, many-particle systems, and thermodynamics. A student may not receive credit for both PHYS 170 and PHYS 200. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite or Corequisite: MATH 151. GT-SC1
An investigation of the kinematics and kinetics of particles and rigid bodies as well as modes of vibration and time response. Topics covered include coordinate systems, work-energy relations, momentum, relative motion and vibrations. Prerequisite: PHYS 250.
Examines fundamentals of fluid flow with application to engineering problems. Topics covered include fluid statics and kinematics, Bernoulli equations, laminar and turbulent viscous boundary layers, laminar and turbulent pipe flow, and conservation equations for mass, momentum and energy. Prerequisites: MATH 251 and PHYS 250.
A study of selected topics in astrophysics as they relate to the core areas of physics: mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum physics, and thermodynamics. Topics covered may include stellar formation and life cycles, galactic dynamics and dark matter, planetary systems, multiple star systems, interstellar medium, cosmology, and the nature of light. Prerequisites: PHYS 171 or PHYS 201; MATH 252.
A senior research and thesis course. The course is designed as the last opportunity to develop skills required before students enter the work force, graduate school or the next step in a chosen vocation. Students shall choose individualized research projects in consultation with an instructor that utilize experimental analysis, experimental investigation and/or computational simulation. Students will communicate their results through written work and a presentation. Prerequisites: PHYS 320.