Course Descriptions

Undergraduate Courses

 PHY 101. Elementary College Physics (4) Corequisite: MAT 111. First semester of a two semester algebra-based introduction to the fundamental principles of physics. Topics include kinematics, Newtonian statics and dynamics, gravitation, oscillations, and mechanical waves. Three lecture and two laboratory hours each week.

PHY 102. Elementary College Physics (4) Prerequisite: PHY 101. Second semester of a two semester algebrabased introduction to the fundamental principles of physics. Topics include electric and magnetic fields, circuits, electromagnetic waves, and geometric and physical optics. Three lecture and two laboratory hours each week.

PHY 103. Great Ideas in Physics (3) Introduces the nature of science to the nonscientist by emphasizing the concepts underlying four great ideas in physics: the conservation of energy, the second law of thermodynamics, the relativity of time, and the wave-particle duality of nature. Explores the mutual influence of science and the humanities (literature, philosophy, history, and the arts).

PHY 104. Physics for Future Presidents (3) Prepares individuals with the physics needed to be effective world leaders by stressing conceptual understanding rather than mathematics with applications to current events. Physics is critical to our understanding of energy, space, global warming, nuclear power, and technology.

PHY 105. Introductory Physics (4) Survey of topics in physics for non-science majors covering the fundamentals of mechanics, heat, light, sound, and electricity and magnetism, and their application in today’s society. Three lecture and two laboratory hours each week.

PHY 111. Naked-eye Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy (3) Detailed knowledge of the motions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars is used to understand ancient skywatching techniques, calendars, celestial lore, sky mythology, cosmological concepts and traditions; the impact of astronomy on the architecture, city planning and cultures of prehistoric societies: ancient European (Stonehenge), Babylonian, Egyptian, Mesoamerican, and Native North American. Occasional night viewings.

PHY 201. General Physics (4) Corequisite: MAT 161. First semester of a two semester calculus-based introduction to the fundamental principles of physics for the physical and mathematical sciences. Topics include kinematics, Newtonian statistics and dynamics, gravitation, oscillations, and mechanical waves. Four lecture and two laboratory
hours each week.

PHY 202. General Physics (4) Prerequisite: PHY 201. Corequisite: MAT 162. Second semester of a two semester calculus-based introduction to the fundamental principles of physics for the physical and mathematical sciences. Topics include electric and magnetic fields, circuits, Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic waves, and geometric and physical optics. Four lecture and two laboratory hours each week.

PHY 220. The Physics of Music (3) An introduction to the physical principles underlying music. Study of resonance, the overtone series, and timbre for both acoustic and electronic instruments, as well as psychoacoustics, pitch, and Western and non-Western musical scales. Familiarity with pre-college trigonometry and algebra is presumed.

PHY 260. Introduction to Astronomy (3) Descriptive course in principles, theories, and techniques of astronomy. Occasional night viewings.

PHY 300. Analog Circuits (2) Prerequisite: PHY 202. Study of passive (resistors, capacitors, inductors) and active (diodes, transistors) components in AC and transient circuits, and integrated circuits utilizing them; skills such as soldering, splicing, and component testing. Culminates in the design and construction of a functional electronic device. Two lecture and two laboratory hours each week.

PHY 311. Mathematical Physics (4) Prerequisite: PHY 202. An introduction to the mathematical techniques in physics: vector analysis, operator and matrix analysis; functions of a complex variable and calculus of residues; differential equations, special functions of mathematical physics; eigenfunctions and the Sturm-Liouville equation; and Fourier series and transforms.

PHY 315. Computational Physics and Complexity (3) Corequisites: PHY 321 or MAT 361. Introduction to numerical modeling techniques for solving problems in physics and complex systems. Numerical techniques will be applied to classical mechanics, bifurcation and dynamical systems, chaotic systems, thermodynamics, optimization, cellular automata, and self-organization.

PHY 321-322. Classical Dynamics (3-3) Prerequisite: PHY 202. Corequisite: PHY 311 or MAT 361. Newtonian, Lagrangian, and Hamiltonian formulations of mechanics applied to single particles and systems of particles, central forces, collisions, oscillations, normal mode analysis, motion of rigid bodies, and elastic waves in continuous media. Rotating frames of reference. Special relativity.

PHY 335. Modern Physics (4) Prerequisite: PHY 202. Survey of modern physics. Special relativity, atomic and nuclear physics, and an introduction to wave mechanics.

PHY 350. Fluid Mechanics (3) Prerequisites: PHY 321 or MAT 361. Emphasizes fundamental physical principles; fluid statics; fluid kinematics; integral and differential forms of the conservation laws for mass, momentum and energy; Bernoulli equation; laminar flows; potential flows; vorticity dynamics; dynamic similarity; boundary layers; turbulence.

PHY 400. Advanced Laboratory (2) Prerequisite: PHY 300. Seminal experiments illuminating a particular branch of modern physics, using topics drawn from atomic, nuclear, solid-state, plasma, and optical physics. Students participate in the design and implementation of experiments and acquire skills such as data organization, error analysis, and interpretation of results. Four laboratory hours each week.

PHY 411-412. Electricity and Magnetism (3-3) Prerequisite: PHY 202 and corequisite: MAT 261. Electric and magnetic field theory; Poisson's and Laplace's equation; harmonic methods, special methods for solution of electrostatics problems, material media and boundary value problems; electromagnetic waves and radiation; electromagnetic laws of optics.

PHY 415. Solid State Physics (3) Prerequisite: PHY 335. A study of the basic properties of solids--crystal structure; mechanical, thermal and electromagnetic properties as determined by the phonon, electron, and magnon characteristics.

PHY 420. (GLY 420) Global Climate Change (3) Prerequisites: PHY 102 or 202, CHM 102, MAT 162. Analysis of natural and anthropogenic global climate change. Historical and geological records of climate including sediment, tree ring, and ice core analysis. Physics and chemistry of climate, including Earth’s energy balance, global carbon cycle, climate modeling, atmospheric composition and dynamics.

PHY 425. Atomic and Molecular Physics (3) Prerequisite: PHY 444. The quantum theory of atomic and molecular structure and spectra. Topics include relativistic and electromagnetic interactions; the hydrogen atom, the helium atom, multielectron atoms; radiative and Auger transitions, selection rules; diatomic and simple polyatomic molecules.

PHY 435. Nuclear Physics (3) Prerequisite: PHY 335 or consent of instructor. Introduction to properties of the nucleus; natural and artificial radioactivity; nuclear reactions and particle accelerators.

PHY 444. Quantum Theory (4) Prerequisite: PHY 335 and corequisite: MAT 361. Introduction to basic principles of quantum mechanics. Topics include operators, symmetry, orbital and spin angular momentum, perturbation theory, and applications to simple systems.

PHY 445. Optics (3) Prerequisite: PHY 202 and MAT 261. Physical and geometrical optics. Huygen's principles, electromagnetic theory of light.

PHY 455. Thermal Physics (3) Prerequisite: PHY 335 or consent of instructor. Principles of thermodynamics and heat transfer; response of molecules to temperature effects illustrated by introduction to kinetic theory and statistical mechanics.

PHY 475. (575) Physical Oceanography (3) Prerequisite: MAT 152 and PHY 102. An introduction to the descriptive and dynamical features of ocean circulation. Topics include: the physical properties of seawater; oceanic heat budget; dynamics of ocean currents; descriptive oceanography; waves and tides.

PHY 477. (577) Observational Methods and Data Analysis in Physical Oceanography (3) Prerequisite: PHY 315, PHY 475. Description of instrumentation used to measure temperature, salinity, pressure and current in the ocean. Time series analysis and data reduction techniques including linear regression, spectral analysis, filtering, optimal interpolation and principal component analysis. Hands-on use of techniques and instrumentation to collect and analyze real oceangraphic data. Credit is not allowed for both PHY 477 and PHY 577.

PHY 478. (578) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (3) Prerequisite: PHY 350, Corequisite: PHY 475. The fundamental principles governing the flow of a density-stratified fluid on a rotating planet with applications to the motions of the ocean and atmosphere. Equations of state, compressibility, Boussinesq approximation; Geostrophic balance, Rossby number; Poincare, Kelvin, Rossby waves, and geostrophic adjustment. Credit is not allowed for both PHY
478 and PHY 578.

PHY 479. (579) Ocean Circulation Systems (3) Prerequisite: PHY 475. Focus on results of World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), a multi-national, multi-decadal program designed to observe the global ocean. Explores large-scale circulation and properties of the ocean as foundation for understanding the future of the world oceans and their role in climate change. Credit is not allowed for both PHY 479 and PHY 579.

PHY 480. (580) Coastal and Estuarine Systems (3) Prerequisite: PHY 475. Introduction to the physical processes operating within coastal and estuarine systems. Focus on the dynamical description of topics such as gravity waves, surf zone hydrodynamics, storm surge, tides, estuarine hydraulics, sediment transport, and morphodynamics. Credit is not allowed for both PHY 480 and PHY 580.

PHY 481. Research Cruise Experience (1) Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor. Broad exposure to planning and execution of oceanographic research operations, including demonstration of techniques and equipment regularly used aboard ships and familiarization with acquisition and processing of oceanographic data via preparation for and participation in a demonstration cruise under the guidance of UNCW physics and physical oceanography faculty members.

PHY 490. Special Topics in Physics (1-3) Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing. Selected topics in physics that are beyond the scope of regular course offerings. May be repeated once under a different subtitle.

PHY 491. Directed Individual Study (1-3) Prerequisite: Overall GPA of at least 2.00, junior or senior standing, and consent of instructor, department chair and dean. Involves investigation under faculty supervision beyond what is offered in existing courses. For further information, consult the Directed Individual Studies section in this catalogue.

PHY 493. Physics Laboratory Teaching Practicum (1) Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Students work under the tutelage of a faculty member to develop skills needed to prepare, conduct and evaluate introductory laboratory assignments. Some instruction and evaluation in an ongoing physics laboratory is required; specific responsibilities are set by the supervisor in consultation with the student trainee.

PHY 495. Physics Seminar (1-3) Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Discussion of selected topics in physics. Students will work with individual faculty advisors leading to an oral presentation on their topic. Additional credit will be earned for submitting a research paper.

PHY 497. Capstone Seminar (1) Prerequisite: PHY 335 and consent of instructor. This course serves as an opportunity to read and present both classic and more recent peer-reviewed journal articles in the fields of physics and physical oceanography. Articles will be chosen by the instructor and will vary each semester. Meetings will occur once a week during the semester and last for one hour. May be taken up to two times.

PHY 498. Internship in Physics (1-3) Prerequisite: Overall GPA of at least 2.50 and a GPA in PHY courses of at least 2.80. Practical experience and academic training in the student’s principal area of interest. Joint supervision and evaluation by a physics faculty member and an on-site supervisor. Open to students of junior or senior standing who have been pre-approved by the faculty supervisor, department chair and dean. May be repeated for a total of
three credit hours.

PHY 499. Honors Work in Physics (2-3) Prerequisite: Eligibility for honors program and senior standing. Independent study for honors students.

Graduate Courses

PHY 550. Fluid Mechanics (3) Permission of Instructor. A comprehensive account of fluid dynamics that emphasizes fundamental physical principles. Fluid statistics; fluid kinematics; integral and differential forms of the conservation laws for mass, momentum and energy; Bernoulli equation; laminar flows; potential flows; vorticity dynamics; dynamic similarity; boundary layers; turbulence.

PHY 575. (475) Physical Oceanography (3) Prerequisite: College physics and calculus. An introduction to the descriptive and dynamical features of ocean circulation. Topics include: the physical properties of seawater; oceanic heat budget; dynamics of ocean currents; descriptive oceanography; waves and tides.

 PHY 576. (CHM 576) Chemical and Physical Analysis of Seawater (3) Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Study of modern chemical and physical measurements of seawater including salinity, alkalinity, pH, nutrients, and dissolved oxygen. Several class periods may also be devoted to working aboard an oceanographic research vessel while at sea.

PHY 577. (477) Observational Methods and Data Analysis in Physical Oceanography (3) Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. This course will supply the student with a working knowledge of the use and operation of various physical oceanographic instruments and data reduction and analysis techniques.

PHY 578. (478) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (3) Prerequisite: PHY 550, Corequisite: PHY 475 or 575. The fundamental principles governing the flow of a density-stratified fluid on a rotating planet, with applications to the motions of the ocean and atmosphere. Equations of state, compressibility, Boussinesq approximation. Geostrophic balance, Rossby number. Poincare, Kelvin, Rossby waves, geostrophic adjustment.

PHY 579. (479) Ocean Circulation Systems (3) Prerequisite: PHY 475 or 575. Course focuses on results of World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), a multi-national, multi-decadal program designed to observe the global ocean. Explores large-scale circulation and properties of the ocean to lay the foundation for the challenge of understanding the future of the world oceans and their role in climate change. 

PHY 580. (480) Coastal and Estuarine Systems (3) Prerequisite: PHY 475 or 575. An introduction to the physical processes operating within coastal and estuarine systems. The focus of the course will be on the dynamical description of topics such as gravity waves, surf zone hydrodynamics, storm surge, tides, estuarine hydraulics, sediment transport and morphodynamics. 

PHY 591. Directed Individual Study (1-3) 

PHY 592. Special Topics (1-3) Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit with different topics. 

PHY 599. Thesis (1-6) Research for thesis and thesis preparation for marine science students.


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