The department aims to develop in its students a comprehensive grasp of the principles of physics, together with a productive capacity in research. The courses of study are flexible in subject matter and are conducted by means of lectures, seminars, laboratories, and colloquia. Undergraduate as well as graduate students have opportunities to carry out research in fields of current interest.

Current Semester Courses

View a list of graduate and undergraduate courses, updated each semester.

Current Physics Courses

All Physics Courses

Course Code Short Title
PHYS0030 Basic Physics A
PHYS0040 Basic Physics B
PHYS0050 Foundations of Mechanics
PHYS0060 Found:Electromagnetism/Mod Phys
PHYS0070 Analytical Mechanics
PHYS0100 Nature/Meaning Sci Explanation
PHYS0110 Excursion to Biophysics
PHYS0111 Extra Dimensions
PHYS0112 Extra-Solar Planet Astronomy
PHYS0113 Squishy Physics
PHYS0114 Science + Technology of Energy
PHYS0120 Adventures in Nanoworld
PHYS0121 Quantum Mech of Global Warming
PHYS0150 The Jazz of Modern Physics
PHYS0160 Intro:Relativity/Quantum Phys
PHYS0180 Physics for Non-Physicists
PHYS0220 Astronomy
PHYS0270 Astronomy and Astrophysics
PHYS0470 Electricity and Magnetism
PHYS0500 Advanced Classical Mechanics
PHYS0560 Experiments in Modern Physics
PHYS0720 Meth Mathematical Physics
PHYS0790 Physics of Matter
PHYS1100 General Relativity
PHYS1170 Intro:Nuclear/High Energy Physics
PHYS1250 Stellar Structure
PHYS1270 Extragalactic Astronomy
PHYS1280 Introduction to Cosmology
PHYS1410 Quantum Mechanics A
PHYS1420 Quantum Mechanics B
PHYS1510 Advanced Electromagnetic Theory
PHYS1530 Thermodynamics/Stat Mechanics
PHYS1560 Modern Physics Laboratory
PHYS1600 Computational Physics
PHYS1610 Biological Physics
PHYS1720 Methods of Mathematical Physics
PHYS1790 Quantum Optics
PHYS1830 Group Research Project
PHYS1840 Group Research Project
PHYS1931S Medical Physics
PHYS1970 Spec Top Experiment/Theoretical Phys
PHYS1970A Stellar Phys, Interstellar Med
PHYS1970B Topics in Optics
PHYS1970C String Theory for Undergrads
PHYS1970D Statistical Phys in Inference
PHYS1970F Quantum Information
PHYS1970G Topological Matter
PHYS1970J Introduction to Fluids
PHYS1980 Undergrad Research in Physics
PHYS1990 Senior Conference Course
PHYS2010 Tech in Experimental Physics
PHYS2020 Math Method Engineers/Physicists
PHYS2030 Classical Theoretical Physics I
PHYS2040 Classical Theoretical Physics II
PHYS2050 Quantum Mechanics
PHYS2060 Quantum Mechanics
PHYS2070 Advanced Quantum Mechanics
PHYS2100 General Relativity
PHYS2140 Statistical Mechanics
PHYS2170 Intro:Nuclear/High Energy Physics
PHYS2280 Astrophysics and Cosmology
PHYS2300 Quantum Theory of Fields I
PHYS2320 Quantum Theory of Fields II
PHYS2340 Group Theory
PHYS2410 Solid State Physics I
PHYS2420 Solid State Physics II
PHYS2430 Quantum Many Body Theory
PHYS2470 Advanced Statistical Mechanics
PHYS2550 Applied Machine Learning and A
PHYS2600 Computational Physics
PHYS2610 Special Topics in Physics
PHYS2610A Topics in Modern Cosmology
PHYS2610B Theory of Relativity
PHYS2610C Condensed Matter Physics
PHYS2610D Condensed Matter Physics
PHYS2610E Physics of Locomotion
PHYS2610F Selected Topics Collider Phys
PHYS2610G The Standard Model and Beyond
PHYS2620 Special Topics in Physics
PHYS2620A Astrophysical/Cosmological Constraints
PHYS2620B Green's Function/Ordered Expontials
PHYS2620C Introduction to String Theory
PHYS2620D Modern Cosmology
PHYS2620E Quantum Mechanics:Fuzzy Physics
PHYS2620F Topics in Molecular Biophysics
PHYS2620G The Standard Model and Beyond
PHYS2620H Quantum Comp, Info., & Sensing
PHYS2620J Statistical Physics in Inferen
PHYS2630 Biological Physics
PHYS2670 Soft Matter
PHYS2710 Seminar in Research Topics
PHYS2711 Seminar in Research Topics
PHYS2790 Quantum Optics
PHYS2980 Research in Physics
PHYS2981 Research in Physics

Introductory Physics Courses

Science concentrators beginning college physics in their junior or senior year, particularly premedical students, should generally take Physics 30 and 40. Some, wishing a deeper course, may want to consider Physics 50 and 60. People with A.P. credit for high school physics should certainly consider this alternative, as well as the possibilities of Physics 70 and/or 160.

Most other students should take courses above the level of Physics 40. This specifically includes those who plan (or wish to retain the option) to concentrate in any physical science, and/or most who for any reason take physics as freshmen or sophomores, particularly if they have studied physics previously. Such people should begin with Physics 50, unless they have completed a year of both physics and calculus, in which case Physics 70 should be seriously considered. Those who limit their college physics to two semesters may conclude with either Physics 60 or Physics 160. Specific recommendations for particular concentrations are available from Concentration Advisors or the contact people mentioned below.

Those who wish the strongest available foundation in physics, including but not limited to those contemplating physics or physics-related concentrations, should follow Physics 50 or 70 with Physics 160 and Physics 470.

Course Number Description
PHYS 0030 This course is a broad quantitative survey of the main classes of physical phenomena, with applications. It includes much that is covered in a sound (A.P.-level) high school course and most of its syllabus corresponds to that of the MCATs. It is intended for premedical students and others beginning physics as juniors or seniors. It is not the best foundation for a physical science concentration and is largely redundant for those who have recently taken high school physics at the A.P. level.
PHYS 0050 This course is the basic beginning course for those building a foundation for a physical science concentration. It is appropriate for most freshmen and sophomores, especially those who have had high school physics, though such background is not required.
PHYS 0070 This course is a faster-paced, more extensive alternative to Physics 5 for those who have completed a year each of physics and calculus. It will cover the material of Physics 5 rapidly and proceed in each subject area to more sophisticated applications and more challenging problems.
PHYS 0060 Following Physics 50 or 70, this course completes the study of classical physics in two semesters, for those wishing to do this.
PHYS 0160 This course is an in-depth introduction to modern physics. It is the second course in the three-semester sequence (concluding with Physics 470) that provides the strongest foundation offered for physical science concentrators. Physics160 is also an available alternative to Physics 60 for students who limit their college physics to two semesters.

For First-Year Students

Math Courses for Physics Concentrators

Mathematics is an indispensable part of the structure of physics. Since mathematics provides the logical framework where physical laws can be precisely formulated and their predictions quantified, students with highly developed mathematical skills tend to have a greater advantage in a physics course. It is therefore strongly recommended that students begin their mathematical studies at Brown as soon as possible, and at the highest level consistent with their mathematics background.

Most entering students take either MATH 190 or 350 in the fall semester, depending on their background (note that 190 is preferred over 170), followed by MATH 200 or 520 or 540 (the latter two following 350). It is strongly recommended that all sophomores take PHYS 720, “Methods of Mathematical Physics”, which will provide students with the essentials of linear algebra, Fourier analysis and differential equations, in a form most appropriate for advanced Physics courses. Note that PHYS 720 can be taken with no previous knowledge of linear algebra (the subject matter of MATH 520 and 540).

Students earning an Sc.B. in Physics must take one additional Math or Applied Math course beyond those listed above. Courses in ordinary and partial differential equations, Fourier analysis and complex analysis are highly recommended. Probability and statistics, group theory, topology and differential geometry are also good choices.

For clarification or advice on individual cases, please consult the Physics Concentration Advisor or the course instructors.