Division I Chair: M. Saderholm


Program Chair : T. Hodge (Fall 2015) 


Faculty: T. Hodge, T. Messina, and M. Veillette




Courses: PHY Courses


Major/Minor Requirements: Physics B.A.Physics Minor


The Physics program offers a rigorous, comprehensive curriculum that is designed to (a) prepare students to enter graduate schools or private industry en route to careers as professional physicists; (b) provide a liberal arts degree to students who are interested in careers for which a background in physics is advantageous, such as engineering, medicine, computer science, and secondary science teaching; and (c) provide service courses for majors in other sciences, including chemistry, pre-medicine, technology, and agriculture.  Our courses introduce students to the nature of scientific inquiry, grounded in problem solving that calls on both practical and quantitative reasoning skills. We are committed to the idea that students should conduct research as part of their undergraduate curriculum, both on campus and at other research institutions.

It is our mission to:

  1. Encourage students to become broadly educated in the liberal arts, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics and technology.
  2. Promote an understanding of and appreciation for the concepts, principles and methods of physics.
  3. Create a supportive academic environment in which students can develop both a fundamental knowledge of physics and the quantitative skills necessary to apply that knowledge.
  4. Provide an opportunity for students to explore the natural world through experimentation and to develop skills in the observation, analysis, and interpretation of experimental data.
  5. Encourage students to participate in significant research and internship experiences both on- and off-campus.
  6. Help students understand the connections between physics and other disciplines and provide opportunities for students to participate in interdisciplinary study.
  7. Help students develop skills in communicating the concepts and principles of physics to a wider audience. 

A strong background in Physics is essential in any Engineering field, so the Program also offers a dual-degree 3-2 Engineering Program through which students can become certified engineers. The interdisciplinary Applied Science and Mathematics major (see separate program in this section of the Catalog & Student Handbook) is recommended for students planning to pursue the dual-degree program. In this program, a student attends Berea College for three to four years, and then completes the Engineering degree at the University of Kentucky (Lexington).

In addition to supporting students' achievement of the Aims of General Education, the Physics Program seeks to assist students in meeting the following learning goals and associated learning outcomes:

Learning Goal 1: Develop an understanding of and appreciation for physics as a discipline

Learning Outcome 1.1: Demonstrate working knowledge of fundamental principles, theories, and problems in classical mechanics, special relativity, thermal physics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics.

Learning Outcome 1.2: Read, analyze, and summarize primary sources in physics, astronomy, and related disciplines.

Learning Goal 2:  Recognize the value of critical thinking and quantitative problem solving skills in physics.

Learning Outcome 2.1: Analyze a problem to identify key physical principles, construct a suitable mathematical model, and formulate a solution.

Learning Outcome 2.2: Apply appropriate analytical and computational techniques to model physical systems, including the mathematics of differential and integral calculus, vector calculus, probability and statistics, linear algebra, and differential equations.

Learning Outcome 2.3: Employ physical intuition to answer conceptual questions, make order-of-magnitude approximations, and recognize whether or not the result of a calculation makes physical sense.

Learning Goal 3: Understand the importance of experimentation in physics.

Learning Outcome 3.1: Demonstrate proficiency in the observation, analysis, and interpretation of experimental data, including the role that uncertainty plays in interpreting experimental results.

Learning Outcome 3.2: Design, construct, and carry out an experimental, computational, or theoretical research project and report on the results through both written and oral communication.

Learning Outcome 3.3: Recognize and articulate the importance of professional and ethical conduct in scientific research.

Learning Goal 4: Appreciate the role of scientific discovery within the context of a liberal arts education, with particular focus on discoveries and developments in physics.

Learning Outcome 4.1: Identify significant historical developments in physics and discuss their impact on the broader society.

Learning Outcome 4.2: Identify and articulate connections between physics and other disciplines, and participate in opportunities for interdisciplinary study.

Learning Goal 5:  Connect physics to real world experience.

Learning Outcome 5.1: Participate in a significant research or internship experience.

Learning Outcome 5.2: Demonstrate the ability to communicate the concepts and principles of physics and engineering to a wider audience with precision and clarity.


For students enrolled in 3/2 Dual Degree Engineering Science program:

Learning Goal 6: Upon completion of the Dual Degree Program, students will be academically prepared to meet the professional requirements of an accredited baccalaureate engineering program.

Learning Outcome 6.1: Successfully transfer to and graduate from an accredited engineering program.

Learning Outcome 6.2: Apply knowledge and skills from physics, mathematics, and related disciplines to professional practice as an engineer. 

Physics Course Sequencing Table:

Please be aware that the table below represents current planning and is subject to change based on faculty availability and student interest.  It is not meant to represent any guarantee to the student that the courses will be offered in the term in which they are currently planned.

Course Fall 14 Spr 15 Fall 15 Spr 16 Fall 16 Spr 17 Fall 17 Spr 18
PHY 111 X   X   X   X  
PHY 127 X X X X X X X X
PHY 128 X X X X X X X X
PHY 130 X   X   X   X  
PHY 221   X   X   X   X
PHY 222 X   X   X   X  
PHY 320   X   X   X   X
PHY 321   X         X  
PHY 330                
PHY 335           X    
PHY 341 X   X   X   X  
PHY 365     X   X      
PHY 386               X
PHY 460   X       X    
PHY 481     X       X  
PHY 482       X       X
PHY 485       X        
PHY 492   X   X   X   X