Department of Astronomy & Physics

Course descriptions

Course descriptions

1000 The Sky and Planets

3 credit hours

This course provides an introduction to the Solar System for non-science students with little background in science and mathematics. Topics include: the celestial sphere and the night sky, locating astronomical objects, motions and phases of the moon, timekeeping and the calendar, history of astronomy, eclipses, telescopes and instruments, planets, asteroids, and comets. Homework consists of assignments and labs, some of which require the use of the Burke-Gaffney Observatory.

Classes 3 hrs. and lab/telescope observing 1 hr. per week 

1001 Stars and Galaxies

3 credit hours

This course is an introduction to astronomy beyond the Solar System for non-science students with little background in science and mathematics. Topics include: the Sun as a star, stars and star clusters, stellar evolution, nebulae, the Milky Way, galaxies and galaxy clusters, quasars, active galaxies, cosmology. Homework consists of assignments and labs, some of which require the use of the Burke-Gaffney Observatory.

Classes 3 hrs. and lab/telescope observing 1 hr. per week.

1010 Life in the Universe

3 credit hours

What are the astronomical, biological, and sociological perspectives on extraterrestrials? Students examine the different types of worlds in our universe; the diversity of life-forms already discovered in extreme environments here on Earth; and the search for biological and intelligent life on other worlds within and outside our own solar system.

Notes: This course is currently offered exclusively as a web-based course.

Please note that this course may not be used by B. Sc. Students to satisfy the requirement of a science elective under regulations 3.e., 6.e., 10.c., and 12.b. for B.Sc. degrees.

1100 Introduction to Astrophysics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1210 [formerly PHYS 1100] and Nova Scotia grade 12 math pre-calculus, or equivalent.

This course provides a mathematics-based and physics-based introduction to general and solar system astronomy for science students and astrophysics majors. Topics include: the celestial sphere and the night sky, development of astronomy as a science, orbits planets, time measurement, eclipses, telescopes and astronomical instruments, and the solar system.  Homework consists of assignments and labs, some of which require the use of  the Burke-Gaffney Observatory.

Classes 3 hrs. and lab/telescope observing 1 hr. per week.

1190 Fundamental Physics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: Nova Scotia Grade 11 Physics or equivalent

The intent of this course is to develop fundamental skills, tools, and conceptual understanding in physics, with a focus on topics/skills that are essential for subsequent study of physics. Students study motion and dynamics of objects in one and two dimensions, including discussions of friction, collisions, circular motion and dynamics, conservation of momentum and energy, and relativity.

Note:  Credit will not be given for PHYS 1190 following credit received for any PSYC course. Students may not take this concurrently with any other PHYS course. 

1210 University Physics I [Formerly PHYS 1100]

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: Nova Scotia Grade 12 Physics and Nova Scotia Grade 12 Pre-calculus, or equivalent.

This calculus-based physics course is intended primarily for (astro) physics and chemistry majors and engineers. Topics include kinematics, Newton’s laws of motion, conservation of energy and momentum, rotational dynamics, and Newton’s law of gravitation. Emphasis is placed on problem solving skills.

Classes 3 hrs. and lab/tutorial 3 hrs. per week 

1211 University Physics II [Formerly PHYS 1101]

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 1210 [formerly PHYS 1100]; and either MATH 1210 or MATH 1190

This calculus-based physics course is a continuation of PHYS 1210, and covers the topics of oscillations and waves, thermodynamics, and electricity and magnetism.

Classes 3 hrs. and lab/tutorial 3 hrs. per week

1370 Scientific Method [PHIL 1255]

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: Nova Scotia grade 11 physics or chemistry and Nova Scotia grade 12 math or equivalent; or permission of the instructors.

This course provides a historical and logical analysis of methods commonly used in science, and is normally taught by faculty from both the Department of Astronomy and Physics and the Department of Philosophy.  Topics include science vs. pseudo-science, natural vs. social sciences, modes of reasoning, observation and experimentation, construction and empirical testing of theories and models, and thought experiments.

1500 Introduction to Modern Physics

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 1210 [formerly PHYS 1100]; and either MATH 1210 or MATH 1190

The special theory of relativity and early ideas in quantum mechanics are introduced. Topics in relativity include departures from Newtonian theory, Lorentz transformations, space and time dilation, the "Twin Paradox", and relativistic dynamics. Topics in quantum mechanics include the quantum theory of light, the Bohr model of the atom, the wave nature of particles and the Schrödinger equation applied to simple one-dimensional problems.

2100 Foundations of Astrophysics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: ASTR 1101; PHYS 1211 [formerly PHYS 1101]; MATH 1211.

The emphasis of this first course in astrophysics is on directly observable quantities such as the positions and motions of stars and the light they emit. Topics include a review of the celestial sphere, time in astronomy, astronomical catalogues, the two-body problem, dynamics of star clusters, stellar spectra including emission and absorption lines, and the operation of telescopes.  Students are assigned observing projects and trained to use the Burke-Gaffney Observatory.

Classes 3 hrs. per week and telescope observing session.

2302 Mechanics I

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1211 and MATH 1211

This course is designed is designed to give the student a firm introduction to Newton’s Laws of motion, to develop the student’s ability to set up and solve problems in physics, and apply mathematical skills acquired in this course and other courses.  Topics include a review of vectors and coordinate systems, rectilinear motion, projectile motion, conservation of energy, simple harmonic motion, accelerating frames of reference, and celestial mechanics.

Note: Credit will not be given for both PHYS 2300 and PHYS 2302.

2303 Mechanics II

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 2302, MATH 2311, and MATH 2301 

This course is a continuation of PHYS 2302, where students continue to develop their problem-solving skills with increasingly sophisticated topics in Classical Mechanics.  These topics include many-body and rigid-body dynamics, conservations of momentum and angular momentum, dynamics in 3-D (Euler’s angles, etc.), damped, forced harmonic motion, and waves.

Note: Credit will not be given for both PHYS 2301 and PHYS 2303.

2400 Physics of Stars

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: ASTR 2100.

One of the major scientific achievements of the 20th Century was the quantitative understanding of stars. This course reviews these advances including the use of binary stars to determine stellar properties, spectral classification and the Boltzmann and Saha equations, radiative transfer and stellar atmospheres, the equations of stellar structure, and the interiors of hydrogen burning stars such as the Sun.

2410 Electricity and Magnetism

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1211 [formerly PHYS 1101] and MATH 1211 

This course is a comprehensive introduction to concepts of electricity and magnetism.  Topics include electric fields and potentials, motion of charged particles in electric and magnetic fields, elementary circuit analysis, EM induction, capacitors and inductors. 

Classes 3 hrs. and lab 3 hrs. per week. 

Note: Credit will not be given for both PHYS 2400 and PHYS 2410.

2510 Thermodynamics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1211, MATH 2311 & MATH 2301 

Students are introduced to the basic ideas of thermal physics, including temperature, heat, work, entropy and free energy.  These ideas are expanded into the first and second laws of thermodynamics, with applications including phase transitions, engines, refrigerators, and batteries. 

Classes 3 hrs. and lab 3 hrs. per week.

 

3200 Mathematical Methods in Physics I

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 2301 and MATH 2303.

This course provides the student with the mathematical techniques needed to solve problems in advanced physics courses.  Topics in complex analysis include the Cauchy-Riemann conditions, Cauchy Theorem and Integrals, Laurent expansions, and the calculus of residues. Topics in differential equations and the separation of variables, the Method of Frobenius and Sturm-Liouville theory.

Note: Credit for PHYS 3200 cannot be given to students who have completed MATH 4436 and either MATH 2303 or 3405.

3210 Computational Methods in Physics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 3500 and either PHYS 3200 or MATH 3405.

This course introduces the student to methods of solving mathematically difficult or tedious problems using the computer.  After a brief introduction to Unix and Fortran or C, the course focuses on some of the algorithms most useful to a physicist, including root-finding, spline fitting, Richardson extrapolation, Romberg integration, Runga-Kutta and Monte Carlo methods. Students complete a term project which applies learned algorithms to problems in computational (astro) physics.

3300 Classical Mechanics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1500, 2301, MATH 2311 and either 2303 or 3405

This advanced course in Classical Mechanics introduces the student to the calculus of variations, constrained problems, and generalised Lagrangian and Hamiltonian dynamics.  Applications are made to oscillations, the “brachistochrone problem”, central force problems, rigid bodies, and the motion of tops.  Additional topics include relativistic mechanics, canonical perturbation theory, and chaos.

3400 Interstellar Matter and Stellar Evolution

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: ASTR 2400.

This course examines the nature of neutral and ionised interstellar clouds and the onset of star formation. Concepts introduced in ASTR 2400 are used to show how the initial mass of a “protostar” largely determines its place on the “main sequence” as a star, its internal structure and energy production, and the nature of its death, whether it be as a white dwarf, neutron star, or a black hole.

3410 Electromagnetism

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1500, PHYS 2410, MATH 2301, MATH 2303, and MATH 2311 

This course is a comprehensive introduction to the mathematical theory of electric and magnetic fields.  Topics include electric field and potential, Gauss’ law, capacitance, Ampere’s law, the Law of Biot and Savart, and magnetization of matter.

3500 Galaxies and Cosmology

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: ASTR 2400.

This course deals with an extremely broad area of astrophysics covering seven or eight orders of magnitude in length scale. Topics include the kinematic properties of nearby stars, galactic rotation, spiral structure, and the formation of the Milky Way. Extragalactic topics include the classification of galaxies, galactic evolution and interaction, galaxy clusters, large scale structure of the universe, and modern cosmology including observational tests of various cosmological models.

3500 Quantum Mechanics I

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1500, 2300, MATH 2311, and either MATH 2303 or 3405.

This course builds on the foundations set in PHYS 1500. Topics in this course include the (time-independent) Schrodinger equation, one-dimensional potentials, barriers and tunnelling, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, Dirac notation, expectation values, the three-dimensional Schrodinger equation, single-electron atoms, spin, and identical particles.

3510 Statistical Mechanics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites:  PHYS 2510, PHYS 3200 and PHYS 3500

Students discover how thermal physics concepts including temperature, entropy, thermal radiation, heat, work, and chemical energy can be described in terms of the discrete quantum states of the components of the system.  Applied topics such as cryogenics, phase transitions, or semiconductor physics may also be explored.

3600 Experimental Physics I

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 2300 and 2400

This course provides the student with the necessary skills to be a successful experimental (astro)physicist.  Students assemble labs from advanced experiemental equipment including computers and other digital devices, perform the experiment possibly over several weeks, and communicate their results in a scientifically useful fashion.

Note:  While this is a three (3) credit course, it will be taught over two semesters.

3876-99 Directed Study in Astrophysics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: Permission of the Chairperson.

4200 Mathematical Methods in Physics II (formerly 3201)

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: either PHYS 3200 or MATH 3405/4436 

This course is a continuation of PHYS 3200 and covers additional topics in mathematical physics, including special functions (Bessel, Neumann, Lagrange, etc.), Green’s functions, Fourier series and transforms, Laplace transforms, integro-differential equations, and Hilbert-Schmidt theory.

4200 Observational Astronomy

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: ASTR 2400.

The principles of modern ground-based and space-based observational astronomy is discussed. Emphasis is on data acquisition (from observations and archives) and analysis, and on the statistical treatment of data. As much as practical, the Burke-Gaffney Observatory is used for student projects.

Classes 3 hrs. per week and telescope observing session.

4370  Philosophy of Physics [PHIL 4515]

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: PHYS 2410, 3500 and PHIL prerequisites as outlined in paragraph 8 in the Philosophy Calendar entry; or permission of the instructors.

This course explores methodological, conceptual, metaphysical, and epistemological questions that arise in modern physics.  Possible topics include scientific revolutions, experimentation, laws of nature, space, time, matter, causality, indeterminism, non-locality, thought experiments, and theoretical unification.

4380 Fluid Dynamics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 3300, and either and either PHYS 4200 (formerly PHYS 3201) or MATH 3406/4437.

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of fluid dynamics.  Discussion embraces both compressible and incompressible fluids and includes the continuity equation, the Navier-Stokes equation, Bernoulli’s theorem, viscosity, the Reynolds number, vorticity, and numerous applications to “real world” problems.  Some specialized numerical techniques for solving complex problems in fluid dynamics may also be discussed.

4390 General Relativity

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 3300, and either PHYS 4200 (formerly PHYS 3201) or MATH 3406/4437.

This is an advanced course introducing Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the curvature of space-time.  Topics shall include manifolds, Riemannian geometry, Einstein’s equations, and applications to cosmology and black holes.

4410 Electrodynamics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 3410 and PHYS 3200 

This course is a continuation of PHYS 3410, which focused primarily on electro and magnetostatics, and turns to the more general theory of electrodynamics.  Topics include Faraday’s law of induction, Maxwell’s equations in vacuo and matter, the Poynting vector, electromagnetic waves, wave guides, scalar and vector potentials, gauge transformations, Lienardt-Wiechart potentials, radiation from moving charges, and relativistic electrodynamics.

4500 Quantum Mechanics II

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 3300, 3500, and either PHYS 4200 (formerly PHYS 3201) or MATH 3406/4437.

This course is a continuation of PHYS 3500, and covers topics such as time-independent perturbation theory, the variational principle, the Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin (WKB) approximation, time-dependent perturbation theory, the adiabatic approximation, and scattering.

4501 Quantum Mechanics III

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: PHYS 4500.

This advanced course in Quantum Mechanics covers a selection of topics that may include scattering, lasers, relativistic quantum dynamics (Dirac theory), second quantization, and field theory.

4510 Subatomic Physics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: PHYS 3500.

Students are introduced to modern nuclear and particle physics.  Topics may include the nucleon-nucleon interaction, the deuteron, the nuclear shell model, dynamical probes of nuclei (electron, photon, and hadron scattering), the structure of nucleons and mesons, electroweak interactions.

4600 Experimental Physics II

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: PHYS 3600

This course is designed primarily for honours physics students to study  advanced topics in physics and/or astrophysics in the laboratory. Students are responsible for setting up and performing the experiments, writing computer programs to aid the analysis, and preparing and presenting their results in a professional manner. The majority of work will be project-based, each project conceived and built by the students from equipment available in the lab.

Note:  While this is a three (3) credit hour course, it will be taught over two semesters.

4600 High-Energy Astrophysics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: ASTR 2400, PHYS 3300,  PHYS 3410

This course discusses the astrophysical processes that create high-energy photons (x-rays and gamma-rays) as well as the emission created from very energetic electrons (synchrotron and inverse Compton). Topics include gas and radiative processes, high-energy detectors and telescopes, and astrophysical processes from the solar system to black holes and gamma-ray bursts responsible for high-energy emission.

4790 Research Thesis

6 credit hours
Prerequisite: honours standing.

A research project carried out by the student under the supervision of a faculty member in the Department throughout the Honours year. The project should be in the area of astrophysics for students in the honours astrophysics program. Results are written up in a formal thesis that adheres to standard University-set guidelines.

Directed study 3 hrs. per week; 2 semesters.

4826 – 4849 Special Topics in Physics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

4876 – 4899 Directed Study in Physics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

Course descriptions

Course descriptions

1000 The Sky and Planets

3 credit hours

This course provides an introduction to the Solar System for non-science students with little background in science and mathematics. Topics include: the celestial sphere and the night sky, locating astronomical objects, motions and phases of the moon, timekeeping and the calendar, history of astronomy, eclipses, telescopes and instruments, planets, asteroids, and comets. Homework consists of assignments and labs, some of which require the use of the Burke-Gaffney Observatory.

Classes 3 hrs. and lab/telescope observing 1 hr. per week 

1001 Stars and Galaxies

3 credit hours

This course is an introduction to astronomy beyond the Solar System for non-science students with little background in science and mathematics. Topics include: the Sun as a star, stars and star clusters, stellar evolution, nebulae, the Milky Way, galaxies and galaxy clusters, quasars, active galaxies, cosmology. Homework consists of assignments and labs, some of which require the use of the Burke-Gaffney Observatory.

Classes 3 hrs. and lab/telescope observing 1 hr. per week.

1010 Life in the Universe

3 credit hours

What are the astronomical, biological, and sociological perspectives on extraterrestrials? Students examine the different types of worlds in our universe; the diversity of life-forms already discovered in extreme environments here on Earth; and the search for biological and intelligent life on other worlds within and outside our own solar system.

Notes: This course is currently offered exclusively as a web-based course.

Please note that this course may not be used by B. Sc. Students to satisfy the requirement of a science elective under regulations 3.e., 6.e., 10.c., and 12.b. for B.Sc. degrees.

1100 Introduction to Astrophysics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1210 [formerly PHYS 1100] and Nova Scotia grade 12 math pre-calculus, or equivalent.

This course provides a mathematics-based and physics-based introduction to general and solar system astronomy for science students and astrophysics majors. Topics include: the celestial sphere and the night sky, development of astronomy as a science, orbits planets, time measurement, eclipses, telescopes and astronomical instruments, and the solar system.  Homework consists of assignments and labs, some of which require the use of  the Burke-Gaffney Observatory.

Classes 3 hrs. and lab/telescope observing 1 hr. per week.

1190 Fundamental Physics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: Nova Scotia Grade 11 Physics or equivalent

The intent of this course is to develop fundamental skills, tools, and conceptual understanding in physics, with a focus on topics/skills that are essential for subsequent study of physics. Students study motion and dynamics of objects in one and two dimensions, including discussions of friction, collisions, circular motion and dynamics, conservation of momentum and energy, and relativity.

Note:  Credit will not be given for PHYS 1190 following credit received for any PSYC course. Students may not take this concurrently with any other PHYS course. 

1210 University Physics I [Formerly PHYS 1100]

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: Nova Scotia Grade 12 Physics and Nova Scotia Grade 12 Pre-calculus, or equivalent.

This calculus-based physics course is intended primarily for (astro) physics and chemistry majors and engineers. Topics include kinematics, Newton’s laws of motion, conservation of energy and momentum, rotational dynamics, and Newton’s law of gravitation. Emphasis is placed on problem solving skills.

Classes 3 hrs. and lab/tutorial 3 hrs. per week 

1211 University Physics II [Formerly PHYS 1101]

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 1210 [formerly PHYS 1100]; and either MATH 1210 or MATH 1190

This calculus-based physics course is a continuation of PHYS 1210, and covers the topics of oscillations and waves, thermodynamics, and electricity and magnetism.

Classes 3 hrs. and lab/tutorial 3 hrs. per week

1370 Scientific Method [PHIL 1255]

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: Nova Scotia grade 11 physics or chemistry and Nova Scotia grade 12 math or equivalent; or permission of the instructors.

This course provides a historical and logical analysis of methods commonly used in science, and is normally taught by faculty from both the Department of Astronomy and Physics and the Department of Philosophy.  Topics include science vs. pseudo-science, natural vs. social sciences, modes of reasoning, observation and experimentation, construction and empirical testing of theories and models, and thought experiments.

1500 Introduction to Modern Physics

3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PHYS 1210 [formerly PHYS 1100]; and either MATH 1210 or MATH 1190

The special theory of relativity and early ideas in quantum mechanics are introduced. Topics in relativity include departures from Newtonian theory, Lorentz transformations, space and time dilation, the "Twin Paradox", and relativistic dynamics. Topics in quantum mechanics include the quantum theory of light, the Bohr model of the atom, the wave nature of particles and the Schrödinger equation applied to simple one-dimensional problems.

2100 Foundations of Astrophysics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: ASTR 1101; PHYS 1211 [formerly PHYS 1101]; MATH 1211.

The emphasis of this first course in astrophysics is on directly observable quantities such as the positions and motions of stars and the light they emit. Topics include a review of the celestial sphere, time in astronomy, astronomical catalogues, the two-body problem, dynamics of star clusters, stellar spectra including emission and absorption lines, and the operation of telescopes.  Students are assigned observing projects and trained to use the Burke-Gaffney Observatory.

Classes 3 hrs. per week and telescope observing session.

2302 Mechanics I

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1211 and MATH 1211

This course is designed is designed to give the student a firm introduction to Newton’s Laws of motion, to develop the student’s ability to set up and solve problems in physics, and apply mathematical skills acquired in this course and other courses.  Topics include a review of vectors and coordinate systems, rectilinear motion, projectile motion, conservation of energy, simple harmonic motion, accelerating frames of reference, and celestial mechanics.

Note: Credit will not be given for both PHYS 2300 and PHYS 2302.

2303 Mechanics II

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 2302, MATH 2311, and MATH 2301 

This course is a continuation of PHYS 2302, where students continue to develop their problem-solving skills with increasingly sophisticated topics in Classical Mechanics.  These topics include many-body and rigid-body dynamics, conservations of momentum and angular momentum, dynamics in 3-D (Euler’s angles, etc.), damped, forced harmonic motion, and waves.

Note: Credit will not be given for both PHYS 2301 and PHYS 2303.

2400 Physics of Stars

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: ASTR 2100.

One of the major scientific achievements of the 20th Century was the quantitative understanding of stars. This course reviews these advances including the use of binary stars to determine stellar properties, spectral classification and the Boltzmann and Saha equations, radiative transfer and stellar atmospheres, the equations of stellar structure, and the interiors of hydrogen burning stars such as the Sun.

2410 Electricity and Magnetism

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1211 [formerly PHYS 1101] and MATH 1211 

This course is a comprehensive introduction to concepts of electricity and magnetism.  Topics include electric fields and potentials, motion of charged particles in electric and magnetic fields, elementary circuit analysis, EM induction, capacitors and inductors. 

Classes 3 hrs. and lab 3 hrs. per week. 

Note: Credit will not be given for both PHYS 2400 and PHYS 2410.

2510 Thermodynamics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1211, MATH 2311 & MATH 2301 

Students are introduced to the basic ideas of thermal physics, including temperature, heat, work, entropy and free energy.  These ideas are expanded into the first and second laws of thermodynamics, with applications including phase transitions, engines, refrigerators, and batteries. 

Classes 3 hrs. and lab 3 hrs. per week.

 

3200 Mathematical Methods in Physics I

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 2301 and MATH 2303.

This course provides the student with the mathematical techniques needed to solve problems in advanced physics courses.  Topics in complex analysis include the Cauchy-Riemann conditions, Cauchy Theorem and Integrals, Laurent expansions, and the calculus of residues. Topics in differential equations and the separation of variables, the Method of Frobenius and Sturm-Liouville theory.

Note: Credit for PHYS 3200 cannot be given to students who have completed MATH 4436 and either MATH 2303 or 3405.

3210 Computational Methods in Physics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 3500 and either PHYS 3200 or MATH 3405.

This course introduces the student to methods of solving mathematically difficult or tedious problems using the computer.  After a brief introduction to Unix and Fortran or C, the course focuses on some of the algorithms most useful to a physicist, including root-finding, spline fitting, Richardson extrapolation, Romberg integration, Runga-Kutta and Monte Carlo methods. Students complete a term project which applies learned algorithms to problems in computational (astro) physics.

3300 Classical Mechanics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1500, 2301, MATH 2311 and either 2303 or 3405

This advanced course in Classical Mechanics introduces the student to the calculus of variations, constrained problems, and generalised Lagrangian and Hamiltonian dynamics.  Applications are made to oscillations, the “brachistochrone problem”, central force problems, rigid bodies, and the motion of tops.  Additional topics include relativistic mechanics, canonical perturbation theory, and chaos.

3400 Interstellar Matter and Stellar Evolution

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: ASTR 2400.

This course examines the nature of neutral and ionised interstellar clouds and the onset of star formation. Concepts introduced in ASTR 2400 are used to show how the initial mass of a “protostar” largely determines its place on the “main sequence” as a star, its internal structure and energy production, and the nature of its death, whether it be as a white dwarf, neutron star, or a black hole.

3410 Electromagnetism

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1500, PHYS 2410, MATH 2301, MATH 2303, and MATH 2311 

This course is a comprehensive introduction to the mathematical theory of electric and magnetic fields.  Topics include electric field and potential, Gauss’ law, capacitance, Ampere’s law, the Law of Biot and Savart, and magnetization of matter.

3500 Galaxies and Cosmology

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: ASTR 2400.

This course deals with an extremely broad area of astrophysics covering seven or eight orders of magnitude in length scale. Topics include the kinematic properties of nearby stars, galactic rotation, spiral structure, and the formation of the Milky Way. Extragalactic topics include the classification of galaxies, galactic evolution and interaction, galaxy clusters, large scale structure of the universe, and modern cosmology including observational tests of various cosmological models.

3500 Quantum Mechanics I

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 1500, 2300, MATH 2311, and either MATH 2303 or 3405.

This course builds on the foundations set in PHYS 1500. Topics in this course include the (time-independent) Schrodinger equation, one-dimensional potentials, barriers and tunnelling, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, Dirac notation, expectation values, the three-dimensional Schrodinger equation, single-electron atoms, spin, and identical particles.

3510 Statistical Mechanics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites:  PHYS 2510, PHYS 3200 and PHYS 3500

Students discover how thermal physics concepts including temperature, entropy, thermal radiation, heat, work, and chemical energy can be described in terms of the discrete quantum states of the components of the system.  Applied topics such as cryogenics, phase transitions, or semiconductor physics may also be explored.

3600 Experimental Physics I

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 2300 and 2400

This course provides the student with the necessary skills to be a successful experimental (astro)physicist.  Students assemble labs from advanced experiemental equipment including computers and other digital devices, perform the experiment possibly over several weeks, and communicate their results in a scientifically useful fashion.

Note:  While this is a three (3) credit course, it will be taught over two semesters.

3876-99 Directed Study in Astrophysics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: Permission of the Chairperson.

4200 Mathematical Methods in Physics II (formerly 3201)

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: either PHYS 3200 or MATH 3405/4436 

This course is a continuation of PHYS 3200 and covers additional topics in mathematical physics, including special functions (Bessel, Neumann, Lagrange, etc.), Green’s functions, Fourier series and transforms, Laplace transforms, integro-differential equations, and Hilbert-Schmidt theory.

4200 Observational Astronomy

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: ASTR 2400.

The principles of modern ground-based and space-based observational astronomy is discussed. Emphasis is on data acquisition (from observations and archives) and analysis, and on the statistical treatment of data. As much as practical, the Burke-Gaffney Observatory is used for student projects.

Classes 3 hrs. per week and telescope observing session.

4370  Philosophy of Physics [PHIL 4515]

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: PHYS 2410, 3500 and PHIL prerequisites as outlined in paragraph 8 in the Philosophy Calendar entry; or permission of the instructors.

This course explores methodological, conceptual, metaphysical, and epistemological questions that arise in modern physics.  Possible topics include scientific revolutions, experimentation, laws of nature, space, time, matter, causality, indeterminism, non-locality, thought experiments, and theoretical unification.

4380 Fluid Dynamics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 3300, and either and either PHYS 4200 (formerly PHYS 3201) or MATH 3406/4437.

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of fluid dynamics.  Discussion embraces both compressible and incompressible fluids and includes the continuity equation, the Navier-Stokes equation, Bernoulli’s theorem, viscosity, the Reynolds number, vorticity, and numerous applications to “real world” problems.  Some specialized numerical techniques for solving complex problems in fluid dynamics may also be discussed.

4390 General Relativity

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 3300, and either PHYS 4200 (formerly PHYS 3201) or MATH 3406/4437.

This is an advanced course introducing Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the curvature of space-time.  Topics shall include manifolds, Riemannian geometry, Einstein’s equations, and applications to cosmology and black holes.

4410 Electrodynamics

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 3410 and PHYS 3200 

This course is a continuation of PHYS 3410, which focused primarily on electro and magnetostatics, and turns to the more general theory of electrodynamics.  Topics include Faraday’s law of induction, Maxwell’s equations in vacuo and matter, the Poynting vector, electromagnetic waves, wave guides, scalar and vector potentials, gauge transformations, Lienardt-Wiechart potentials, radiation from moving charges, and relativistic electrodynamics.

4500 Quantum Mechanics II

3 credit hours
Prerequisites: PHYS 3300, 3500, and either PHYS 4200 (formerly PHYS 3201) or MATH 3406/4437.

This course is a continuation of PHYS 3500, and covers topics such as time-independent perturbation theory, the variational principle, the Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin (WKB) approximation, time-dependent perturbation theory, the adiabatic approximation, and scattering.

4501 Quantum Mechanics III

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: PHYS 4500.

This advanced course in Quantum Mechanics covers a selection of topics that may include scattering, lasers, relativistic quantum dynamics (Dirac theory), second quantization, and field theory.

4510 Subatomic Physics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: PHYS 3500.

Students are introduced to modern nuclear and particle physics.  Topics may include the nucleon-nucleon interaction, the deuteron, the nuclear shell model, dynamical probes of nuclei (electron, photon, and hadron scattering), the structure of nucleons and mesons, electroweak interactions.

4600 Experimental Physics II

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: PHYS 3600

This course is designed primarily for honours physics students to study  advanced topics in physics and/or astrophysics in the laboratory. Students are responsible for setting up and performing the experiments, writing computer programs to aid the analysis, and preparing and presenting their results in a professional manner. The majority of work will be project-based, each project conceived and built by the students from equipment available in the lab.

Note:  While this is a three (3) credit hour course, it will be taught over two semesters.

4600 High-Energy Astrophysics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: ASTR 2400, PHYS 3300,  PHYS 3410

This course discusses the astrophysical processes that create high-energy photons (x-rays and gamma-rays) as well as the emission created from very energetic electrons (synchrotron and inverse Compton). Topics include gas and radiative processes, high-energy detectors and telescopes, and astrophysical processes from the solar system to black holes and gamma-ray bursts responsible for high-energy emission.

4790 Research Thesis

6 credit hours
Prerequisite: honours standing.

A research project carried out by the student under the supervision of a faculty member in the Department throughout the Honours year. The project should be in the area of astrophysics for students in the honours astrophysics program. Results are written up in a formal thesis that adheres to standard University-set guidelines.

Directed study 3 hrs. per week; 2 semesters.

4826 – 4849 Special Topics in Physics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

4876 – 4899 Directed Study in Physics

3 credit hours
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor