Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

PHYSICS 501, FALL 2021




Prof. David Vanderbilt
Office: Serin E291
Phone: 445-9049
Office hours: TBA

Textbook and Syllabus:

You may also wish to consult the Book List for suggestions of other books appropriate to the level of this course.

In the fall semester, we will cover Shankar Chapters 1-7 and 9-15 (see Syllabus).

Lectures: Monday and Thursday, 11:00-12:20pm, SEC-203. Lecture should be as interactive as possible; you are definitely encouraged to ask questions, or express what is confusing you, in the lecture. Also, I strongly recommend that you read the corresponding textbook material before lecture, so that you can come prepared to ask questions about the points that you find unclear.

Note that the schedule at the beginning of the semester is strange:

There will be no class on Thursday Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving) or Monday Nov. 29 (designated day for Wednesday classes).

Homeworks: Since people usually "learn by doing," the homeworks are an extremely important part of the course experience. Homeworks will be assigned at intervals of 1 or 1.5 weeks; they will be graded and returned to you. See the guidelines for submitting homeworks.

Exams: There will be a midterm and a final. The midterm will be given in class, probably in late October. The final will be a two-hour exam during finals period; the date and time are yet to be determined.

Web site: If you are looking at a paper copy of this document, it is actually a printout of the course public home page located at However, you will probably make much more use of the course Canvas page, where homework assignments and other materials will be posted.

Communication: My "posted office hours" are as listed above, but you are free to see me at other times as well. If it's a quick question, just drop in; otherwise it might be advisable to phone or email ahead to make an appointment. Also, feel free to contact me by email about any aspect of the course.

Grades: To arrive at the final grade I will do a numerical calculation first (with weights of approximately 40% for homeworks, 25% for the midterm, and 35% for the final). This will then be adjusted, based on factors like class participation, to arrive at a final letter grade.

Course Policies and Student Resources: Please read here for departmental and university information on various topics including

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