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Undergraduate Programme in Physics

Physics is many things to many people. It is a doorway to some of the most beautiful and profound phenomena in the universe, e.g. black holes, supernovae, Bose-Einstein condensates, superconductors. It is a driver of lifestyle-changing technology, e.g. engines, electricity, and transistors. And it is a powerful way of perceiving and analysing problems that can be applied in various domains, both within and outside standard physics. The beauty and profundity of the phenomena studied by physicists offer romance and excite passion; the utility of its discoveries and the power of its methods arouse interest. These methods can be very intricate and demanding: theoretical physics requires a skilful combination of physical and mathematical thinking, and experimental physics requires some of this along with the ability to turn tentative ideas into physical devices that can put those ideas to the test. The successful practice of physics demands mathematical and mechanical adroitness, persistence, and great imagination. Fortunately, the physicist’s imagination is nourished not just by physics but also by other areas of human enquiry and thought, of the kind that an Ashoka undergraduate is expected to encounter.

With all of this in mind, the physics programme has been designed to: (i) allow students wishing to major in physics to discover real physics and make a wise choice, in the first two semesters; (ii) provide a thorough training in fundamental physics, in the following three semesters; and (iii) bring together everything learnt earlier, and give students the option to pursue more advanced courses in physics or branch out into other areas, in the final semester. The idea is to accompany those wishing to become professional physicists as they take the first steps in that direction, and to introduce everyone who goes through the programme to the physicist’s way of thinking. 

General Information

Students wishing to major, minor, or pursue a concentration in Physics are expected to take the introductory course in calculus (Calculus I) offered by the Mathematics Department. Students wishing to major in Physics should plan to take it in their first semester.

Mathematical level: All theory courses are calculus-based. The level of mathematical sophistication will increase progressively. The mathematical-physics courses will be application-oriented rather than proof-oriented. A student should have studied Mathematics at the +2 level in school. Those who do not have the requisite mathematics training should take the mathematics Foundation Course and the Calculus course as early as possible.

Labs: All lab courses will involve extensive use of instruments to make observations. These experiments will in general illustrate ideas studied in the accompanying theory courses.

The use of computers: Many theory courses will include computational exercises, generally using the programming language Python. Labs will also require the use of computers.

Duration:

  • Theory courses – Two lectures a week each lasting 1.5 hours.
  • Laboratory courses – One 3-hour lab session per week (plus one optional 3-hour lab session for students to complete their work.)
  • Major

    Students wishing to major, minor, or pursue a concentration in Physics are encouraged to take the introductory course in calculus (Calculus I) offered by the Mathematics Department. Students wishing to major in Physics should plan to take it in their first semester.

    Number of courses required to major in physics: 15.

    100 credits (FCs + CCs + Major courses + other courses).

    Of these, the 13 courses of the core curriculum are mandatory, and 2 electives may be chosen of those offered.

    Students are of course free to take as many of the electives as they wish.

  • Minor

    Students wishing to major, minor, or pursue a concentration in Physics are encouraged to take the introductory course in calculus (Calculus I) offered by the Mathematics Department. 

    Number of courses required to minor in physics: 6 (24 credits).

    Of these the two gateway courses – Mathematical Physics I: Mathematical and Computational Toolkit and Lab 1: An Introduction to Physics through Experiments – are compulsory.

    At least two more courses should be taken from among the core courses offered in semesters 3, 4, and 5, provided appropriate prerequisites have been satisfied for these courses (recommended courses: Classical Mechanics and Thermal Physics).

    The remaining two may be either other compulsory or elective courses offered by the Physics Department or cross-listed with Physics, provided appropriate prerequisites have been satisfied.

    In place of one elective course, a student may take an Independent Study Module (ISM) of equivalent credit.

  • Astronomy Minor

    The Department of Physics also offers a Minor in Astronomy, the requirement for which is six courses (24 credits).

    Two of these are core courses (compulsory):  The Physics of the Universe (theory) and Observing the Cosmos (lab).

    Four other courses are to be chosen from the following seven electives on offer:
    Cosmic Messengers – I (theory), Cosmic Messengers – II (lab), The Earth and Other Planets, The Violent Universe, Astrophysical and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Introduction to General Relativity with Application to Cosmology, and Computational Astrophysics and Geophysics.

  • Concentration

    Students wishing to major, minor, or pursue a concentration in Physics are encouraged to take the introductory course in calculus (Calculus I) offered by the Mathematics Department. 

    Number of courses required for a concentration in physics: 4 (16 credits).

    Of these the two gateway courses – Mathematical Physics I: Mathematical and Computational Toolkit and Lab 1: An Introduction to Physics through Experiments – are compulsory.

    At least two more courses should be taken from among the core courses offered in semesters 3, 4 and 5, provided appropriate prerequisites have been satisfied for these courses.

  • Outline

    Semesters 1 and 2: Discovering College-level Physics:

    Students wishing to major in physics are expected to take, in the first semester, the introductory course in calculus offered by the Mathematics Department.

    The physics-major sequence begins in semester 2, with two courses, one in theoretical physics and the other in experimental physics. The first purpose of these courses is to provide an experience of undergraduate-level physics on the basis of which a student can decide whether or not to major in physics, i.e. they are gateway courses. The second purpose of these courses is to serve as an introduction to the physicist’s way of thinking about problems and solving them, something that has proved useful not just to physicists but also to those in other disciplines that make use of quantitative methods and experiments, e.g. mathematics, computer science, economics, psychology, and biology.

    Semesters 3, 4, and 5: The Physics Core:

    The physics courses in semesters 3, 4, and 5 form the core of the physicist’s undergraduate canon: Mathematical Physics II, Classical Mechanics, Electricity & Magnetism in Light of Relativity, Thermal & Statistical Physics, Oscillations, Waves & Optics, Quantum Mechanics I, and Statistical Mechanics, and three accompanying labs. Anyone majoring in physics is expected to be thorough in these areas.

    Semester 6: Choosing a Direction and Bringing Physics Together:

    In semester 6 there will be a required course, The Physics of Matter, that brings together much of the physics learnt in earlier semesters, so that the student leaves with a view of physics as an integrated subject. In addition there will be two more elective courses.

  • Recommended Additional Courses

    Probability and Statistics, offered by the Department of Mathematics.

Admissions

Joining Undergraduate Programmes

Ashoka University’s Department of Physics offers a methodically crafted undergraduate programme to students. Students get expert guidance to launch a career in Research, Innovation & related fields.

Student Stories

Frequently Asked Questions

The gateway courses (Mathematical and Computational Toolkit and Laboratory 1) are the mandatory courses to pursue a physics minor. Apart from these two, the student is expected to take 4 courses of their choice. Of these 4 courses at least two should be taken from among the other core courses. The remaining two can be core or elective courses and one of them can also be an ISM. So, in total a student has to do 6 courses to complete a minor in Physics.

The gateway courses (Mathematical and Computational Toolkit and Laboratory 1) are the mandatory courses to pursue a physics concentration. Apart from these two, the student is expected to take 2 courses of their choice from among the core courses. So, in total a student has to do 4 courses to complete a concentration in Physics.

You can reach out to the Academic Representative of the Department.

The mandatory gateway courses are offered in the spring semesters. Other core courses are spread throughout the 6 semesters. All courses are not offered in every semester. 

The student is expected to have a science/mathematics background in their high school (at +2 level). Calculus is a recommended course to be taken in their first semester.

Yes. They are independent of the theory courses in terms of the number of credits – 4 credits for each theory or lab course.

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