Physics

Chair or Program Director: 

Syed Faiz Ahmad, Ph.D., Program Director
Pasteur Hall P211, Phone 502.272.8436, sahmad@bellarmine.edu

Faculty: 

Akhtar H. Mahmood, Ph.D.

Physics is a fascinating field! Humanity has learned that there is order in the Universe, and that this order can be expressed through physical laws. The study of physics involves understanding of the everyday phenomena in nature, with the creative synthesis of theory and experiment to express the laws of nature, often elegant in their universality. Physics is also the study of the fundamental structure of matter, energy and their interactions with the forces of nature that control systems, from the very small to the very large. Today the scope of physics extends from the smallest subatomic particles to the distant galaxies and to the entire observable universe. Any student with a curiosity about the physical universe can benefit from studying physics. Physics is not just for physicists. In general, everyone needs an understanding of physics because of the bearing it has on the wide range of issues facing today’s world, such as energy resources, the environment, space exploration, communication and medicine. Physics forms the basis of most of today’s technological innovations and is the core of many new advances in engineering and technology. Physicists in general strive to develop theories to understand the concepts needed for a precise description of nature and build experiments to test such concepts. Physicists are increasingly using advanced computing tools to find solutions to both scientific and engineering problems, particularly for modeling and simulation of complex processes.

Students who pursue an undergraduate degree in physics at Bellarmine University can expect to receive a strong academic preparation and educational training in theoretical, computational and experimental physics with solid scientific and technical foundation in a quality learning environment. One of the great strengths of Bellarmine’s physics program is a small class size and the close collaborative interactions among faculty and students. We offer a robust physics curriculum - the Bachelor of Science degree in physics provides a broad background in physics in a wide range of courses that cultivates active learning, critical thinking, problem solving and computational skills with an interdisciplinary perspective. At the upper level, program emphasis shifts from structured classroom and laboratory activities to experiences designed to develop increasing independence and creativity. In addition to obtaining a strong foundation in classical physics, thermal & statistical physics, modern physics, quantum physics and electronics, students enrolled in this degree program will also acquire strong software/programming skills, including knowledge and experience in computer simulation/modeling of physical systems using a high performance parallel cluster computer. Students will have the versatility, knowledge and analytical skills necessary to adapt quickly in the dynamic world of modern science and the high-tech industry, ready to develop solutions to complex problems and technologies of tomorrow in our technically-oriented society. By combining a rigorous physics curriculum with the necessary instruction in computer science, mathematics, and computational physics, students enrolled in the physics degree program will acquire versatile marketable skills. Many of today’s physics students will become tomorrow’s leaders and many will be expanding the frontiers of physics, computing, and information technology.

Students who graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics can either pursue graduate studies towards and MS. and a Ph.D degree in physics and related fields or seek immediate employment after graduation. Physics graduate can also go on to professional schools in a variety of fields. More than ever before, men and women who study physics find themselves entering a wide range of career fields and adapt to the changing work place of the 21st Century in today’s job market. Many Physics graduates go on to pursue a professional career in the private sector, in high-tech industry as engineers, physicists and computational scientists, as computer consultants, research staff and technicians; and as physics teachers. Others pursue leadership roles in business, management and finance, and also in government. Physics graduates can also pursue employment as software programmers in firms that develop educational and scientific software, or even in Wall Street, where employers are interested in people with a background in computational physics.

In addition to the B.S. Physics degree, the program also offers a minor in Physics, and provides supporting courses for the general education curriculum and other major fields of study. The algebra-based College Physics sequence (PHYS 201/202) is required for pre-PT, pre-med and pre-pharmacy, and supports degree programs in Exercise Science, Biology, Health Sciences, and Nursing. The calculus-based University Physics sequence (PHYS 205/206) supports degree programs such as Physics/3-2 Engineering, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, and Computer Engineering. Both sequences can be used to meet the natural sciences general education requirement.

The Physics Program supports the mission of Bellarmine University by striving to develop in our students the “intellectual” and “professional competencies for successful living, work, leadership and service to others.”

The Physics program has the following goals for its B.S. degree:

  1. To provide our majors with a strong background in the major sub-disciplines of physics – classical mechanics, electricity & magnetism, thermal & statistical physics, and quantum physics – with up-to-date course work in each area.
  2. To provide our students with relevant laboratory and research experiences (including modern instrumentation, computer software and methods of information retrieval) designed to deepen their understanding of physical principles, while simultaneously teaching students safe and responsible laboratory practices.
  3. To provide our students with research experiences that allows them to practice active learning and to develop their critical thinking, communication, and technical skills.

Degree Requirements

Course Listing