Courses & Curriculum 

Degree Options

For the physics major, Canisius College offers the degree of Bachelor's of Science. For those students interested in combining their physics studies with another degree, there is the opportunity for dual majors. The physics minor is available for those majoring in a different area but would like to take more physics classes as electives.


Physics majors use high resolution spectroscopy equipment, lasers, fiber optics, high vacuum apparatus, low temperature apparatus, a multi-channel nuclear spectrometer and an X-ray spectrometer. They have access to departmental computers and the college’s main computer system. In addition, a large supply of other equipment is available for students to use as early as their first semester.


PHY 107 Computer Programming for Science   3 credits
Introduction to computer programming with the C language.  Examples and applications for science.   Fall

PHY 129 Introduction to Astronomy   3 credits
Understanding modern astronomy by using ideas from basic physics. Mathematics minimized. Naming and viewing stars and constellations is included. (Field 6)  Fall

PHY 131 Earthquakes: Seismology and Society         3 credits
The science behind earthquakes; their causes, locations, frequency and measurement; and their affects on geography, human structures and society.(Field 6)  Spring

PHY 133 Dinosaurs          3 credits
An introduction to dinosaurs and their world through an examination of their anatomy, evolution, phylogenty, behavior, metabolism and the cause of their extinction.  Exploration of geological concepts such as uniformitarianism, stratigraphy, sedimentation, fossilization and taphonomy will help to explain how this knowledge was extracted from the rocks.(Field 6) Fall

PHY 201-202 General Physics   4+4 credits
For biological-science students. Newtonian mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics and atomic physics. Some calculus. Lecture, recitation and laboratory. Prerequisites: MAT 109 or equivalent. A grade of C- or higher in PHY 201 is required to continue in PHY 202. PHY 201 Fall; PHY 202 Spring

PHY 223-224 General Physics for Physical Science Majors    4+4 credits
Calculus-based physics course and related laboratory. PHY 223: Newtonian mechanics with applications. PHY 224: electricity and magnetism. Prerequisites: MAT 111. A grade of C- or higher in PHY 223 is necessary to continue in PHY 224. PHY 223 Fall, PHY 224 Spring.

PHY 225 General Physics III            4 credits
Calculus-based physics course and related laboratory. Fluids, mechanical waves and sound, heat and thermodynamics, geometric and physical optics, relativity and introductory quantum physics. Prerequisite: A grade of C- or higher in PHY 224 is required to continue in PHY 225. 

PHY 226-226L Basic Electronics            3+1 credits
Circuit analysis, power supplies, semiconductor physics, operational amplifiers, digital electronics. Integrated circuit techniques. Includes laboratory work each week. Prerequisite:  A grade of C- or higher in PHY 224 is required.  Spring

PHY 301 Optics            3 credits
Geometric optics, interference, diffraction, fiber optics, laser system design, holographic metrology and non-linear optical phenomena. Prerequisites: MAT 222 and PHY 224. Offered irregularly, 2 year cycle

PHY 330 Electromagnetism I            3 credits
Static and time-varying classical electric and magnetic fields in free-space and matter. Prerequisite: PHY 224. Prior completion of or concurrent registration for MAT 335 is strongly encouraged. Fall odd-numbered year, 2 year cycle

PHY 331 Electromagnetism II            3 credits
Primary topic: electromagnetic waves in free-space and matter, beginning with the Maxwell equations. Additional topics: radiation and special relativity.  Prerequisite: PHY 330.  Spring even-numbered year, 2 year cycle

PHY 332 Statistical and Thermal Physics           3 credits
Develops statistical concepts and methods used to relate macroscopic to microscopic descriptions of many particle systems.  Prerequisite: PHY 225. Fall even-numbered year,  2 year cycle 

PHY 335-336 Mathematical Analysis for Physicists          4+4 credits

Theory and applications of infinite series, Fourier series, Green's functions, Fourier integrals, vector calculus, linear algebra, partial differential equations, and complex variable.  Prerequisite: MAT 222 or consent of instructor. Fall.

PHY 350-351 Advanced Laboratory            2 credits
Advanced experiments such as experimental instrumentation, holography, spatial filtering, atomic spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, low-temperature measurements, magnetic resonance.  Prerequisite: PHY 225.  PHY350 in Fall and PHY351 in Spring.

PHY 360 Scientific Modeling    3 credits
An introduction to the use of computer models to develop understanding in a scientific context. This course is intended for students in any scientific or mathematical discipline, and focuses on the principles involved in using and interpreting computer models. The course is divided into three main sections: dynamical modeling, structural modeling and computer-based statistical methods. Problems will be drawn from biology, biochemistry, chemistry, geology and physics. Prerequisites: MAT 111 and a one-year introductory science sequence (in computer science, chemistry, biology or physics).  Offered irregularly, 2 year cycle

PHY 443 Classical Mechanics   3 credits
One, two, and three dimensional motion of a particle, non-inertial systems, classical scattering, rigid-body motion. Lagrange and Hamilton equations, calculus of variations, oscillations.   Prerequisites: PHY 224, MAT 222.  Fall even-numbered year, 2 year cycle

PHY 445 Special Topics in Physics    1 credit
Designed to build the student's skills in reading journal articles and presenting topics to his or her peers.  The course is organized in the style of a journal club with emphasis on literature searches. Prerequisite: PHY 225.  Fall.

PHY 447 Quantum Mechanics            3 credits
Experimental basis of quantum mechanics, state functions, operators. Schrodinger’s equation and applications, parity, perturbation theory, Dirac notation. Prerequisite: PHY 225 is required, MAT 336 is strongly recommended. Spring even-numbered year, 2 year cycle

PHY 449 Nuclear Physics Lab           1 credit
One-semester lab meeting once per week. Experiments study nuclear instrumentation, characteristics of radiation and nuclear spectra. Prerequisite: PHY 225 2 year cycle

PHY 498 Senior Project            1-3 credits
A one-semester research project done under the supervision of a faculty member. Prerequisite: Senior standing in physics and permission of department chair.  Spring

PHY 499 Independent Study           3 credits
Prerequisite: Permission of department chair.  Spring and Fall