Physics (PHYS)

PHYS 1.     Physical Reasoning and Calculation. 2 Units


Introduction to the analytical skills needed for the study of Physics. The focus is to prepare students to take PHYS 11A, however, PHYS 1 is also suitable as preparation for PHYS 5A. Emphasis is on reasoning and problem-solving, including conceptualization, visualization, and interpretation of written descriptions of physical situations, and on the connection of physical laws to the mathematical techniques used in their solution.

PHYS 2.     Topics in Elementary Physics. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): A recent one year course in high school algebra and one year of plane geometry or a college course in algebra (MATH 9).

General Education Area / Graduation Requirement: Physical Science (B1)


One semester introductory physics course including a laboratory. Covers the fundamental concepts of physics with an emphasis on everyday life situations and applications. The range of material includes mechanics, waves, electricity and optics. One hour lecture, two hour discussion, and a three hour laboratory session.

PHYS 5A.     General Physics: Mechanics, Heat, Sound. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): Recently completed three years of high school algebra and geometry; and a college course in algebra and trigonometry (MATH 9 recommended) for those having an inadequate mathematics background.

General Education Area / Graduation Requirement: Physical Science (B1), Laboratory (B3)


PHYS 5A-B sequence is a two-semester course in introductory physics in which fundamental concepts are emphasized including some physiological applications. Lecture two hours; discussion one hour; laboratory three hours.

PHYS 5B.     General Physics: Light, Electricity and Magnetism, Modern Physics. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 5A or instructor permission.


Lecture two hours; discussion one hour; laboratory three hours.

PHYS 10.     Physics In Our World. 3 Units

General Education Area / Graduation Requirement: Physical Science (B1)


Introductory course designed for non-science students completing general education requirements. Students will be introduced to basic concepts in Physics through the study of astronomy, atomic nature of matter, electromagnetic waves, energy, sound and earthquake waves, current electricity, magnetism, and nuclear processes. Development of reasoning and quantitative skills and applying them to scientific and technological topics of current importance will be emphasized.

PHYS 10L.     Physics in Our World Laboratory. 1 Unit

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 10; may be taken concurrently.


Laboratory course complements PHYS 10 and satisfies the general education science lab requirement. Emphasis is placed on the nature of scientific observation and measurement and their relationship to general physical concepts. Students will be given a concrete, hands-on sense of observing and interpreting data from a variety of experimental environments.

PHYS 11A.     General Physics: Mechanics. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 30, MATH 31; or equivalent certificated high school courses.

General Education Area / Graduation Requirement: Physical Science (B1), Laboratory (B3)


PHYS 11 A, B, and C is a three semester course in introductory physics requiring elementary calculus. This course satisfies the lower division physics requirement for a major in physics, chemistry, geology, or engineering. PHYS 11A covers the basics of classical mechanics, including kinematics, Newton's laws, conservation laws and rotational dynamics. Lecture two hours; discussion one hour; laboratory three hours. MATH 31 may be taken concurrently.

PHYS 11B.     General Physics: Heat, Light, Sound, Modern Physics. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 11C.


PHYS 11 A, B, and C is a three semester course in introductory physics requiring elementary calculus. This course satisfies the lower division physics requirement for a major in physics, chemistry, geology, or engineering. PHYS 11B covers the basics of thermodynamics, light propagation, sound, and an introduction to modern physics. Lecture two hours; discussion one hour; laboratory three hours.

PHYS 11C.     General Physics: Electricity and Magnetism. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 31, PHYS 11A.


PHYS 11 A, B, and C is a three semester course in introductory physics requiring elementary calculus. This course satisfies the lower division physics requirement for a major in physics, chemistry, geology, or engineering. PHYS 11C covers the basics of electricity and magnetism. Lecture two hours; discussion one hour; laboratory three hours.

PHYS 30.     Science and Pseudoscience. 3 Units

General Education Area / Graduation Requirement: Critical Thinking (A3)


Examination of the methodology of science. Comparison of legitimate investigations with others that do not meet high scientific standards, including both science poorly done and nonsense posing as science. Examples will be drawn primarily from the physical sciences. Analyzes will require study of basic skills of reasoning, types of logical argument, structure and validity of arguments, common reasoning fallacies, critical evaluation of evidence, and understanding of the scientific thinking process.

PHYS 99.     Special Problems. 1 - 3 Units


Individual projects or directed reading.

Note: Open only to students who appear competent to assume individual work on the approval of the instructor. For students with lower division status. Up to 4 units may be taken for grade.

Graded (CR/NC Available)

PHYS 105.     Mathematical Methods in Physics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 32; PHYS 11A, PHYS 11B, PHYS 11C or PHYS 5A, PHYS 5B.


Linear algebra and linear vector spaces, linear transformations and eigenvectors, differential and integral vector calculus, with applications to physical problems.

PHYS 106.     Introduction to Modern Physics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 31; PHYS 11A, PHYS 11B, PHYS 11C or PHYS 5A, PHYS 5B.


Basic concepts of special relativity and quantum theory of matter. Phenomenological study of atomic and molecular energy states and spectra. Elements of solid-state and nuclear physics.

PHYS 107.     Conceptual Physics and Scientific Inquiry. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): BIO 7, CHEM 106, GEOL 8, MATH 17.

Corequisite(s): CHEM 106


Concepts include matter, waves and energy, force and motion, electricity and magnetism, and scientific inquiry. Emphasizes hands on cooperative learning engaging students in scientific inquiry by posing testable scientific questions, conducting experiments, and analyzing and presenting findings to their peers. Appropriate for Liberal Studies and Blended Multiple Subject Credential students. Weekly activity and discussion sessions.

PHYS 110.     Classical Mechanics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 45, PHYS 11C, PHYS 105.


Fundamental principles of statics and dynamics, including Newton's equations and conservation laws, damped and forced oscillations, central force motion, accelerated coordinate systems, coupled oscillations, normal modes, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods, introduction to nonlinear systems and chaos theory.

PHYS 115.     Electronics and Instrumentation. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 11C or PHYS 5B with instructor permission.


Linear and non-linear circuits, operational amplifiers, transducers, basics of digital circuitry, and an introduction to computerized data acquisition. Lecture two hours; laboratory six hours.

PHYS 116.     Advanced Electronics and Instrumentation. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 115.


Noise reduction techniques, signal recovery, frequency analysis, computerized instrument control, and instrument development. Lecture one hour; laboratory six hours.

PHYS 124.     Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 45, PHYS 11A, PHYS 11B, PHYS 11C.


Basic concepts and laws of thermodynamics and thermal properties of matter; kinetic theory of gases; use of distribution functions and ensembles in statistical mechanics; connection of probability and entropy; quantum statistics; applications to various systems.

PHYS 130.     Acoustics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 45, PHYS 11A, PHYS 11B, PHYS 11C.


Theoretical and experimental study of sound sources, sound waves and sound measurement. Basic properties of waves in continuous media; spectral analysis of vibrations; use of acoustic impedance and circuit analogies; applications to environmental noise analysis, room acoustics, and loudspeaker and microphone design and use; experience with acoustic instrumentation. Lecture two hours; laboratory three hours.

PHYS 135.     Electricity And Magnetism. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 45, PHYS 11C, PHYS 105.


Development of electromagnetic theory from basic experimental laws; electrostatics, electric currents, magnetostatics, electric and magnetic properties of matter, induction, Maxwell's equations, conservation laws, introduction to electromagnetic waves.

PHYS 136.     Electrodynamics of Waves, Radiation,and Materials. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 135.


Electromagnetic waves, wave propagation in material media, reflection and refraction, polarization, cavities and waveguides, optical fibers, simple radiating systems, radiation from an accelerated charge and special relativity. Introduction to plasma physics and electromagnetic properties of superconductors.

PHYS 142.     Applied Solid State Physics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 45, PHYS 106.


Elementary treatment of crystal structure and lattice and electron dynamics. Physics of semiconductor junctions, diodes, transistors and MOSFETS, solar cells, lasers, electro-optic and acousto-optic devices. Introduction to basic physical properties such as electrical conduction of selected amorphous solids and their applications. Laboratory experience.

PHYS 145.     Optics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 45, PHYS 11A, PHYS 11B, PHYS 11C.


Theoretical and experimental treatment of wave optics; interference, diffraction, absorption, scattering, dispersion, polarization. Selected topics from contemporary optics: Fourier optics, coherence theory, lasers, holography. Lecture two hours; laboratory three hours.

PHYS 150.     Quantum Mechanics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 45, PHYS 106, PHYS 110.


Foundations of wave mechanics, including wave packets, superposition, and the uncertainty principle. The Schroedinger equation and its relation to operators and eigenstates. Symmetric systems and conserved quantities. Introduction to matrix mechanics, spin, scattering, and perturbation theory.

PHYS 151.     Advanced Modern Physics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 150.


Structure of matter including basic elements of atomics, molecular, solid state, nuclear and particle physics. Topics will also include photon and electron gases, lasers, superconductivity, Bose-Einstein condensation and superfluidity.

PHYS 156.     Classical and Statistical Mechanics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 110, PHYS 124.


Review of classical mechanics, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations, rigid body motion, small vibrations and normal modes, nonlinear dynamics and chaos. Review of the laws of thermodynamics, principles of classical statistical mechanics, ensemble formulations and applications, principles of quantum statistical mechanics, ideal quantum gases, applications to Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein systems.

PHYS 162.     Scientific Computing: Basic Methods. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 26A or MATH 30 and PHYS 5A, or MATH 30 and PHYS 11A, or MATH 105A concurrently.


Basic methods and skills of applying computers to the solution of scientific problems. Numerical calculation methods, numbers and data, algebraic equations, rate processes, iterative techniques, approximation methods, statistical analysis and data fitting, relaxation methods, and use of software and other programming resources on the web. Practical experience emphasized throughout.

PHYS 163.     Scientific Computing: Modeling, Simulation, and Visualization. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 162.


Application of computer modeling, simulation, and visualization to the solution of scientific problems. Projects drawn from various scientific disciplines will be used to develop the necessary skills, including a capstone project. Examples include projectile motion with air drag, time development of a biological population, chemical reactions with several reactants, and random walk and Monte Carlo methods. Practical experience emphasized throughout.

PHYS 175.     Advanced Physics Laboratory. 2 Units

Prerequisite(s): 12 units of upper division physics, including PHYS 106 and either PHYS 115 or PHYS 145 and a satisfaction of the Advanced Writing requirement.


Advanced experiments chosen from several of the major areas of physics, performed usually on an individual basis. Laboratory six hours.

PHYS 186.     Musical Acoustics: Science and Sound. 3 Units

General Education Area / Graduation Requirement: Further Studies in Area B (B5)


Physical principles of vibration and wave motion, with illustrations involving musical instruments and concert hall acoustics; principles of electronic synthesis, recording, and reproduction of sound; operation of the human ear and brain in receiving and analyzing sound; relation of the harmonic series to sound quality, harmony and scales; proper roles for science in explaining music as an artistic activity.

Note: No technical background required; course cannot be used to meet Physics BS program requirements. Cross Listed: MUSC 186; only one may be counted for credit.

PHYS 190.     Physics Seminar. 1 - 2 Units


Special lecture series on announced topics by local and visiting speakers, emphasizing current research developments, with related reading assignments.

Note: May be taken for credit in sequential semesters for a maximum of two units total.

Credit/No Credit

PHYS 191.     Senior Project. 1 - 2 Units

Prerequisite(s): Department chair permission.


Research Project under faculty supervision. Project may consist of laboratory or theoretical research project, instrumentation/demonstration development, or literature research project. Projects require written and oral reports.

Note: May be taken for credit in sequential semesters for a maximum of four units total. Grade assigned upon completion of the project.

PHYS 194.     Physics Related Work Experience. 6 - 12 Units

Prerequisite(s): Upper-division status and Department Chair permission.


Supervised employment in a physics or astronomy related company or agency. Placement is arranged through the department and the Cooperative Education Program office. Requires completion of a three-to-six month work assignment and a written report.

Note: PHYS 194 may not be used to meet major requirements in Physics; May be taken for credit in sequential semesters

Credit/No Credit

PHYS 195.     Teaching Internship. 1 - 2 Units

Prerequisite(s): Completion of all math and physics lower division courses for the B.


Supervised teaching internship for high school physics class, or for one of the following courses: PHYS 2, 5A-B, 10, 11A-C, 107, or ASTR4. The students will meet weekly with the faculty teaching this class, and with their supervisor or mentor to help prepare and teach the class.

Note: May be taken for credit in sequential semesters for a maximum of six units total.A. in Physics. Approval from the Teacher Preparation Concentration Coordinator.

PHYS 197.     Laboratory Teaching Assistant. 1 - 2 Units

Prerequisite(s): Completion of all physics and math lower division courses required for the B.


Student will be a supervised laboratory teaching assistant for one of the following courses: PHYS 2, 5A-B, 10, 11A-C, 107, or ASTR 6. The student will meet weekly with the faculty teaching this class, and with their supervisor or mentor to help prepare and teach the laboratory.

Note: May be taken for credit in sequential semesters for a maximum of six units total.A. in Physics. Completion of the same course in which the student will take this class with a grade higher than B and/or consent from the Teacher Preparation Concentration program coordinator.

PHYS 198.     Co-Curricular Activities. 1 - 3 Units


Students may provide special tutoring to students taking physics courses, participate in community oriented projects, assist in activity sessions for teacher training courses, or engage in activities related to the subject matter and concerns of the Physics and Astronomy Department. Up to 4 units may be taken.

Credit/No Credit

PHYS 199.     Special Problems. 1 - 3 Units


Individual projects or directed reading. Open only to students who appear competent to assume individual work on the approval of the instructor. Up to 4 units may be taken for grade.

Graded (CR/NC Available)