Physics 313 - Fall 2015

Overview of the Course

Course Outline

This is a one-semester course providing an introduction to modern physics. We will spend roughly the first third of the course developing the two pillars of modern physics: the special theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. We will then discuss several of the main areas of current physics research: atomic physics, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, elementary particle physics and cosmology. We obviously will not be able to cover these in detail in a one semester course. The course will primarily provide an introduction and overview. If you continue on in physics, you will see these topics in more depth in further undergraduate and graduate courses.


Lectures will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00pm to 6:20pm in ARC Room 105. Please try to come to the lectures on time. The lectures will be complementary to the textbook material. In lecture, I will try to emphasize the basic important principles. The textbook reading will fill in mathematical details. I encourage you very much to ask questions and make comments during lecture. That is the best way to make the lectures effective.


The textbook for the course is Modern Physics by Harris. You are very much encouraged to read the corresponding sections from the textbook before coming to lecture.

Here are some other textbooks that you might find useful.


I will post the lecture schedule on the syllabus web page. This page is based on the 2014 version of the course taught by Prof. Steve Schnetzer (who will also teach several lectures this year), and will be continually updated as the semester progresses. I have not worked out the full syllabus for 2015 because I want to maintain flexibility and make sure that our progress is neither too fast nor too slow.


There will be several homework assignments during the semester. These will in general consist of a range of problems from straightforward to challenging. You are allowed, and in some sense encouraged, to work in groups. Just be sure that you contribute to the work of the group. Remember that the main point of the homework is for you to learn something.

Office Hours

Please do not hesitate to approach me with any questions you might have concerning the lecture material, homework or related physics. My regular office hour will be on Wednesdays 3.00 - 4.00 pm in my office, Hill Center 279. In addition to the regular office hour, you are welcome to come see me at other times. I will be glad to talk with you if I am not busy. I may sometimes have to miss my scheduled office hour. In that case, I will do my best to notify you in advance.


There will be an 80-minute midterm exam and a 3-hour final exam (both in-class). The exact dates of the exams will be announced separately.


The course grade will be based on the following criteria:

Midterm Exam : 20%
Final Exam: 40%
Homework: 40%

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This page is maintained by Prof. Alexandre Morozov.