Undergraduate Courses

Topical Courses

These are courses about a specific topic which generally require little in the way of prerequisites (typically high school math). These courses include Astronomy, Music in Physics, and How Things Work. These are meant for the student who is interested in learning about physics but does not have the time to commit to a minor or major. Any of these courses would count as science credits towards the General Curriculum Requirements.

Introductory Courses

These are introductory courses in physics meant primarily for a student who will be taking additional science courses (for example, majors in engineering, biology, chemistry or physics). The courses are meant to give an introduction to basic physical processes and also to build critical thinking and problem solving skills. These courses include General Physics and University Physics. Any of these courses would count as science credits towards the General Curriculum Requirements.

Advanced Courses

These courses are meant for the serious science student, who has completed an introductory series of study in physics. Generally, if you find yourself in one of these courses, you should be considering at least a minor in physics, as you will have completed the bulk of the coursework. These courses are offered at a range of levels, with Biophysics and Intermediate Laboratory being the most accessible to a student who has just finished an introductory series. The "core series" courses of Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Thermodynamics and Quantum Mechanics should be taken only after completing University Physics III.

Research Courses

These courses are meant for the major in physics. While only a one semester course, it serves to give credit for a major research project. We recommend that the student find a research group early (in their sophmore or junior year; even the freshman year is not too early) and work with that group to learn about the research mission so that when it is time to take on a major project, the student is fully prepared. Any student planning to take a research course should discuss it with the Undergraduate Advisor and the Prinicpal Investigator of the research group the student will work with.


Advancing Physics

Professor Thomas Benjamin Brown (1918-1957) joined the Physics Department in 1918 and devoted 39 years to the department and the GW community. During World War II, he was involved in magnetism research for the Navy. Through his skills in experimental physics, he built up the physics laboratories into modern facilities and then published a complete laboratory manual of the experimental exercises he designed. He also served as editor-in-chief of The Lloyd Williams Taylor Manual of Advanced Undergraduate Experiments in Physics. Much of his equipment and his lab exercises were used long after he retired in 1957. He received a special award from the National Association of Physics Teachers in 1961 in recognition of his contribution to education.