Paradigms in Physics: Overview
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Beginning in Fall Term 1997, the OSU Physics Department implemented a total revision of all the upper-division theory courses.
We restructured our junior and senior physics curriculum with the aid of a grant from the National Science Foundation. This curriculum represents a departure from the traditional one that is firmly rooted in courses of equal difficulty devoted to a particular subfield of physics. Our approach teaches physics as physicists think about it, namely in terms of concepts that broadly underlie the various subfields: energy, symmetry, wave motion, rotations and so forth. The major structural change during the junior year is that two separate traditional course sequences, running in parallel, have merged to form a single intensive sequence, to encourage mastery of the concepts as you go along. These "paradigms" courses, taken typically in the junior year, are followed by senior year "capstone" courses in each of the major sub-disciplines of physics.
The new curriculum better serves the needs of all students, from those seeking an applied career to those intending to pursue graduate degrees. See a selection of comments from alumni and a report by our external evaluator.
These Web pages describe the new curriculum. Please note that there are other courses required by the various degree programs, please see the Physics Department Advising Web Pages for details.
Students with majors in related sciences, mathematics, and engineering are welcome to take one or more of the new courses. (Such students should consult one of the departmental advisors regarding possible alternatives to the posted prerequisites.)