North campus

Honors Physics

These courses cannot be used to satisfy your Honors Seminar Requirement, but can be counted toward your Honors Experiences.

The courses PHY 117 - Honors Physics I, PHY 118 - Honors Physics II, and PHY 217 - Honors Physics III are intended for University Honors Scholars. The syllabi for these courses are essentially the same as PHY 107 - General Physics I, PHY 108 - General Physics II, and PHY 207 - General Physics III, however because of the intended audience the topics are covered in much greater depth. Also, the small class sizes allow for much more interaction between the faculty and students. Typically these classes have fewer than 20 students.

Honors students wishing more information on these courses should contact the Undergraduate Director for Physics, Professor Michael G. Fuda. His office is in 333 Fronczak Hall and he can be reached via phone at 716-645-3043 or e-mail at All three courses are calculus based.

Honors Physics I — PHY 117

This course is intended for potential physics majors, students in the Honors College, and advanced students in other majors (with permission from the instructor). It is especially appropriate for students who have taken AP Physics C in high school. It will cover similar topics as PHY 107 but with several significant differences. The class will be taught at a level comfortable for students who would receive a B or higher in a typical PHY 107 class. Because of the higher average GPA of students in this class, grading will be adjusted to reflect this quality, rather than following the conventional curves used for PHY 107. Introductory materials, such as review of trigonometry, vectors and calculus, in PHY 107 will not be covered. This leaves room to expose students to a wider range of interesting applications of Newtonian mechanics, and recent developments in topics such as relativity and cosmology. The class size is limited to encourage interactive learning and communications between students and the instructor.

Honors Physics II — PHY 118

This course is an introduction to the subject of Electricity and Magnetism. The founders of this field include Ampere, Oersted, Faraday, and Maxwell. Here the important concept of a field is introduced. It is now widely believes that fields and their particle manifestations are the fundamental entities in the physical world. The topics include the electric field, Gauss’ law for the electric field, the concept of electric potential, capacitance, DC circuits, the magnetic field, Faraday’s law, inductance, LR circuits, AC circuits, and Maxwell’s equations.

Honors Physics III — PHY 217

This course deals with sound waves, electromagnetic waves, geometrical and physical optics, and modern physics. The propagation, interference, and diffraction of waves are discussed in detail. The modern physics part of the course covers the electron, the photon, wave-particle duality. The Bohr model of the hydrogen atom, the Schroedinger equation, quantum numbers, the Pauli principle and the periodic table, and lasers. The modern physics part of the course has a pronounced historical tinge to it, in that it outlines the revolution that occurred in the beginning of the twentieth century which led to the overthrow of the classical world picture that has developed from Newton’s laws of motion and Maxwell's equations. It is here that one meets such giants of physics as Bohr, Heisenberg, Schoedinger, and Einstein.

The Honors Physics sequence begins in the spring semester with PHY 117.

Last updated: August 18, 2017 4:11 pm EST