Courses Offered

The courses you will study in our department will furnish you with a sound foundation in basic and applied physics and astronomy. We will challenge you. And, if you are willing to work, we will help you to succeed. The following are the physics and astronomy courses offered at UMaine. (If you are interested in the courses of other departments on the UMaine campus, check these sources of information: First Class, UMaine Course Catalog, and Blackboard.)

Graduate level courses are also available for advanced undergraduates.


AST 109 Introduction to Astronomy

A descriptive survey of astronomy including contemporary views of the universe. Topics include the solar system, stars, galaxies, black holes, quasars, and cosmology. May be taken without AST 110. (Satisfies the General Education Science Basic or Applied Sciences Requirement.)

Lec 3. *>Cr 3.


AST 110 Introduction to Astronomy Laboratory

Laboratory and observational exercises to accompany AST 109. (Satisfies the General Education Science Basic or Applied Sciences Requirement.)

Corequisite: AST 109. Lab 2. *>Cr 1.


AST 114 Navigation

Covers piloting, dead-reckoning, and celestial navigation. A working knowledge of trigonometry is required. (Satisfies the General Education Science Applications of Scientific Knowledge Requirement.)

Rec 3. *>Cr 3.


AST 221 Planetary Systems

A more detailed introduction to astronomy and astrophysics than AST 109 covering solar system astronomy including celestial mechanics, astronomical coordinate systems, Kepler’s laws, and the sun.

Prerequisites: MAT 127, PHY 112 or PHY 122, or permission. Lec 3. *>Cr 3.


AST 227 Stars and Galaxies

An introduction to one or more of: stars, galaxies, quasars, and/or cosmology. Not given every year. This course is independent of AST 221 which is not a prerequisite.

Prerequisite: MAT 127, PHY 112 or PHY 122 or permission. Lec 3. *>Cr 3.


AST 451 Astrophysics I

Application of the principles of physics to selected topics in the study of cosmogony, stellar evolution and dynamics, interstellar processes, the formation and evolution of galaxies, and cosmology.

Prerequisite: PHY 236, PHY 238, PHY 455, MAT 259 or permission. Rec 3. *>Cr 1-3.


AST 452 Astrophysics II

A continuation of AST 451. Prerequisite: AST 451. *>Cr 1-3. .


AST 497 Topics in Astrophysics

Selected topics in areas not already covered by regular course offerings in the Department.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor. *>Cr 1-3.


AST 598 Special Topics in Theor. or Exp. Astrophysics

Prerequisite: departmental permission. *>Cr Ar.


PHY 100 Introduction to Physics and Astronomy

Introduces first-year physics and engineering physics students to the professions and opportunities in physics, engineering physics, and astronomy, including departmental faculty, research opportunities, and facilities. In addition to discipline specific information, the course will introduce students to departmental, college, and university resources that will help them succeed in their education. (Pass/Fail Grade Only.)

Prerequisite: First-year status within the department major or permission. *>Cr 1.


PHY 101 Physics by Inquiry I

A basic “hands-on” inquiry course. Students make observations in the laboratory which provide a basis for constructing physical concepts and developing the reasoning skills necessary to apply them to simple phenomena. Each semester, two or three topics will be chosen from the following list: properties of matter, observational astronomy, heat and temperature, light and optics (including color), electricity and magnetism and kinematics.

Satisfies the General Education Lab in the Basic or Applied Sciences Requirement.

Prerequisite: Education majors or permission of instructor. *>Cr 4.


PHY 102 Physics by Inquiry II

A basic “hands-on” inquiry course. Students make observations in the laboratory which provide a basis for constructing physical concepts and developing the reasoning skills necessary to apply them to simple phenomena. Each semester, two or three topics will be chosen from the following list: properties of matter, observational astronomy, heat and temperature, light and optics (including color), electricity and magnetism and kinematics. (NOTE: PHY 101 is NOT a prerequisite for PHY 102. Different topics will be covered. See instructor for details.)

Prerequisite: Education majors or permission. *>Cr 4.


PHY 105 Descriptive Physics

A introduction to basic concepts of physics intended for the non-science major. (Satisfies the General Education Science Basic or Applied Sciences Requirement.)

Lec with dem 3, Lab 3. *>Cr 4.


PHY 107 Technical Physics I

An introduction to the basic concepts of mechanics and heat with illustrations taken from technical applications. Algebra and trigonometry are used. Intended for Engineering Technology students. NOTE: Because of overlapping subject matter, no more than four (4) degree credits are allowed for any combination of PHY 107, PHY 111 and PHY 121. Satisfies the General Education Lab in the Basic or Applied Sciences Requirement.

Lec 2, Rec 1, Workshop 1, Lab 2. *>Cr 4.


PHY 108 Technical Physics II

An introduction to the basic concepts of electricity, magnetism and light with illustrations taken from technical applications. Algebra and trigonometry are used. Intended for Engineering Technology students. NOTE: Because of overlapping subject matter, no more than four (4) degree credits are allowed for any combination of PHY 108, PHY 112 and PHY 122.

Satisfies the General Education Lab in the Basic or Applied Sciences Requirement.

Prerequisite: PHY 107. Lec 2, Rec 1, Workshop 1, Lab 2. *>Cr 4.


PHY 111 General Physics I

An introduction to the principles of mechanics, energy, heat, sound and properties of matter. Designed for science majors as well as premedical and predental students. No calculus. A working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry is required. NOTE: Because of overlapping subject matter, no more than four (4) degree credits are allowed for any combination of PHY 107, PHY 111 and PHY 121. (Satisfies the General Education Science Basic or Applied Sciences Requirement.)

Lec with dem 2, Rec 1, Problem Workshop 1, Lab 2. *>Cr 4.


PHY 112 General Physics II

A continuation of PHY 111. Introducing electricity, magnetism, optics and atomic, nuclear, and quantum physics. NOTE: Because of overlapping subject matter, no more than four (4) degree credits are allowed for any combination of PHY 108, PHY 112 and PHY 122. (Satisfies the General Education Science Basic or Applied Sciences Requirement.)

Prerequisite: PHY 111. Lec with dem 2, Rec 1, Problem Workshop 1, Lab 2. *>Cr 4.


PHY 121 Physics for Eng. & Physical Scientists I

An introductory calculus-based physics course, primarily serving students majoring in engineering or the physical sciences. Treats mechanics and acoustics. NOTE: Because of overlapping subject matter, no more than four (4) degree credits are allowed for any combination of PHY 107, PHY 111 and PHY 121. (Satisfies the General Education Science Basic or Applied Sciences Requirement.)

Corequisite: MAT 126. Lec with dem 2, Rec 1, Problem Workshop 1, Lab 2. *>Cr 4.


PHY 122 Physics for Eng. & Physical Scientists II

A continuation of PHY 121 including electricity, magnetism, and optics. NOTE: Because of overlapping subject matter, no more than four (4) degree credits are allowed for any combination of PHY 108, PHY 112 and PHY 122. (Satisfies the General Education Science Basic or Applied Sciences Requirement.)

Prerequisites: PHY 121, MAT 126. Lec with dem 2, Rec 1, Problem Workshop 1, Lab 2. *>Cr 4.


PHY 200 Career Preparation in Physics and Engineering Physics I

A sophomore level course required of all physics and engineering physics majors. An introduction to the professions of physics and engineering physics, including the ethical standards of professional practice. Technical communication skills and practice in working on teams are developed through projects, presentations, and class discussions of contemporary issues and strategies to enhance professional qualifications.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing.

Credits: 1


PHY 223 Special Relativity

The basic principles of special relativity with a primary emphasis on mechanics.

Prerequisites: PHY 112 or PHY 122, MAT 126. Lec 1, *>Cr 1.


PHY 224 Special Relativity Laboratory

Experiments illustrating the major predictions of the Theory of Special Relativity.

Prerequisites: PHY 229 and PHY 236 or permission of instructor. Corequisite: PHY 223. Cr 1-3.


PHY 229 Physical Measurements Laboratory I

Experiments primarily in modern physics. Normally taken with PHY 236.

Prerequisite: PHY 112 or PHY 122, MAT 127. Lab 2. *>Cr 2.


PHY 231 Mathematical Methods in Physics

Mathematical methods with applications to physics. Topics include: infinite series, power series, complex numbers, linear algebra, partial differentiation, multiple integrals, vector analysis, Fourier series and Fourier transforms, ordinary and partial differential equations.

Prerequisites: MAT 228     Corequisites: MAT 259 or Instructor Permission

Credits: 3


PHY 236 Introductory Quantum Physics

The basic principles of quantum theory, atomic structure, nuclear structure, and some aspects of molecular, solid state, and elementary particle physics.

Prerequisite: PHY 112 or PHY 122, MAT 127. Lec 3. *>Cr 3.


PHY 262 Electronics

A laboratory-based introduction to analog and digital electronics and to the collaborative design and testing of circuits for a variety of practical applications.  Primarily for physics and engineering physics majors; others admitted by permission.

Prerequisites: PHY 112 or 122, MAT 127     Corequisites: PHY 231

Credits: 2


PHY 364 Modern Experimental Physics

Experiments selected from various topics in physics including x-ray diffraction, microwaves, nuclear magnetic resonance, Hall effect, etc. Students develop their own experimental methods. Normally taken by junior physics and engineering physics majors. Satisfies the General Education Writing Intensive Requirement when combined with PHY 365.

Prerequisites: PHY 236, MAT 228

Credits: 2


PHY 365 Mechanics Laboratory

Theories and practices in the measurement of physical quantities in mechanics. Primarily for physics and engineering physics majors; others admitted by permission. Satisfies the General Education Writing Intensive Requirement when combined with PHY 364.

Prerequisites: PHY 451, MAT 259

Credits: 2


PHY 400 Career Preparation in Physics and Engineering Physics II

A senior level course required of all physics and engineering physics majors. Refinement of technical communication skills through projects, presentations and class discussions of contemporary issues in science and engineering and strategies for career enhancement after graduation.

Together with PHY 481 or PHY 482, this course Satisfies the General Education Capstone Experience Requirement.

Prerequisites: PHY 200, senior standing.

Credits: 1


PHY 447 Molecular Biophysics

An introduction to physical properties of biological macromolecules including proteins, nucleic acids and membranes. Solution thermodynamics developed as needed. Some statistical mechanics introduced. Topics include macromolecular structure, dynamics and functions, inter- and intra-molecular interactions, ligand binding equilibria, helix-coil transitions, physical techniques used in biophysics such as calorimetry, X-ray diffraction, optical and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Four credit version contains additional term project to be arranged with instructor.

Prerequisites: PHY 112 or PHY 122, MAT 126, CHY 121 or permission. *>Cr 3.


PHY 451 Mechanics

A detailed treatment of mechanics using Netwonian and Lagrangian methods. Newton’s laws, particle motion in a plane, linear oscillations, damped oscillations, coupled oscillators, rigid body rotation, and potential methods.

Prerequisites: PHY 231

Credits: 3


PHY 454 Electricity and Magnetism I

An intermediate level course in the fundamentals of the theory of electricity and magnetism. Treats electrostatics and magnetostatics, both in vacuum and in matter.

Prerequisites: PHY 112 or PHY 122. Corequisite: PHY 476. Rec 3. *>Cr 3.


PHY 455 Electricity and Magnetism II

A continuation of PHY 454. Treats electrodynamics by developing Maxwell’s equations and applying them to systems of general interest.

Prerequisite: PHY 454. Rec 3. *>Cr 3.


PHY 462 Physical Thermodynamics

A theoretical study of the structure and concepts of equilibrium thermodynamics including the thermodynamic descriptions of the properties and phases of matter, analysis of processes and practical applications. Normally taken as a junior or senior elective by students in the sciences or engineering. Four credit version contains additional term project to be arranged with instructor.

Prerequisite: PHY 111 or PHY 121, MAT 228. Rec 3. *>Cr 3-4.


PHY 463 Statistical Mechanics

Introduces statistical mechanics and thermodynamics with examples chosen from magnetic systems, ideal gases, metals, superfluidity, chemical reactions, phase transformations, mixtures, semiconductors, kinetic theory or related topics. Normally taken as a junior or senior elective by students in the sciences or engineering.

Prerequisites: PHY 236, MAT 258 or MAT 259. Rec 3. *>Cr 3.


PHY 469 Quantum and Atomic Physics

Introductory quantum mechanics applied to simple systems and molecules. Wavepackets, Schroedinger equation, operator methods and angular momentum.

Prerequisites: PHY 236, PHY 476 or permission. Rec 3. *>Cr 3.


PHY 470 Nuclear Physics

Properties of the nucleus, nuclear reactions, radioactive decay, nuclear models, nuclear reactors and nuclear health physics.

Prerequisite: PHY 236; Corequisite: MAT 259. May be taken without the laboratory, PHY 471. Rec 2. *>Cr 2.


PHY 471 Nuclear Physics Laboratory

Laboratory exercises to accompany PHY 470.

Corequisite: PHY 470 or permission of instructor. Lab 2. *>Cr 1.


PHY 472 Geometrical and Fourier Optics

Covers geometrical optics, refraction and reflection at plane and spherical surfaces, optical instruments; Fourier optics, interference of waves and diffraction by a single and a double aperture; Lasers – theory of their operation, mode locking and pulse formation.

Prerequisite: PHY 112 or PHY 122; Corequisite: MAT 228. Rec 3. *>Cr 3.


PHY 473 Modern Optics Laboratory

Laboratory exercises to accompany PHY 472, Geometrical and Fourier Optics.

Corequisite: PHY 472 or permission of instructor. Lab 2-4. *>Cr 1-2.


PHY 480 Physics of Materials

A senior level introductory course in the physics of materials, primarily solid state physics. Structural, mechanical, electrical, magnetic, and optical properties of materials are discussed.

Prerequisites: PHY 236, PHY 455. Rec 3. *>Cr 3.


PHY 481 Project Laboratory in Physics I

An individual project laboratory tailored to the student’s particular interests. In consultation with a faculty sponsor, each student is expected to develop a suitable project, approved by the sponsor and the course coordinator. The project may or may not be related to the sponsor’s research. Full written reports are required. Open to senior physics and engineering physics majors and others by permission.

Lab 6. *>Cr 3.


PHY 482 Project Laboratory in Physics II

Completion of the project begun in PHY 481.

Together with PHY 400, this course Satisfies the General Education Capstone Experience Requirement.

Prerequisite: PHY 481. Lab 6. *>Cr 3.


PHY 495 Engineering Physics Practice

Supervised engineering practice in an industrial setting. Placement is off-campus and usually of several month’s duration. Prior approval of department chairperson is required.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing (successful completion of 16 hours of physics courses)and a declared major in Engineering Physics. *>Cr 1-6.


PHY 496 Field Experience in Physics

Supervised research or development in an academic laboratory, government laboratory, or industrial environment. Placements are usually off-campus and of several month’s duration. Prior approval of the department chairman is required.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing (successful completion of 16 hours of physics courses) and a declared major in Engineering Physics. *>Cr 1-6.


PHY 497 Problems in Physics

Selected topics in areas not already covered by regular course offerings in the department. Primarily for undergraduates. *>Cr Ar.


First Class

First Class is a network environment in which students, staff, and faculty may participate in email, public and private discussion groups, on-line chat, Netnews, and ListServ subscriptions. Many faculty members use First Class conferences to supplement their lectures and in-class exercises.

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UMaine Course Catalog

This online resource lists all of the University of Maine courses by Department. There is also a search function available. The available information includes:

  • All UMaine courses listed by department
  • Course designator and title (e.g. PHY 469 Quantum and Atomic Physics)
  • Brief course descriptions
  • Prerequisite courses (e.g. completed PHY 236, or instructor’s permission)
  • Credit hours of study (e.g. Cr 3 is equal to 3 hours of in-class time per week).

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Blackboard

This is an online course environment. Some instructors supplement their lectures and reading with web-based materials. Some of your instructors may even be teaching their entire course online. Check it out!

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