Department of Chemistry, Physics, & Geology

Spring 2016          Course: PHYS 301 (001) - Modern Physics
Credit hours: 3
Pre-requisite: A grade of C or better in PHYS 212 or PHYS 202.  

Lecture: MW 8:00 - 9:15, Sims 113C.                     Course  Schedule


Professor: Dr. Ponn Maheswaranathan (Mahes).
Office: 213-B, Sims, Office Hours: M & W: 9:30 - 11:00, or by appointment.
Phone: 323 4940, E-mail:

Textbook: None. Hand-outs and notes will be provided.

Course Description:
An introductory modern physics course covering relativity, early quantum theory and basic quantum mechanics with selected applications to atomic, nuclear, solid state, and particle physics. The course emphasizes understanding of fundamental physics concepts and principles as well as the development of conceptual and analytical problem solving skills by using physics concepts, principles, and mathematics


Course Objectives:

University-Level Competency:

Modern physics introduces students to the role of scientific reasoning in solving introductory modern physics problems (e.g. describing relativity and calculating time dilation and length contraction, use of quantum mechanics in dealing with sub-atomic particles, and using particle physics in the understanding of the origin of the universe and its future. They will also be introduced to the history of scientific discovery (e.g., topics and devices are introduced with historical perspectives) and learn that the theories in physics evolve into laws after continuous re-evaluations and arguments. In addition they will see how the scientific advances made in a laboratory transforms into useful technological devices (e.g., the development of the transistor from vacuum tube to silicon chip).   

Attendance and Participation:
The attendance policy described in the Winthrop University undergraduate catalog will be followed. Students are encouraged to attend all the lectures and to actively take part in classroom activities. Regular attendance and good participation efforts will help in the final letter grade assignment for borderline cases.


Keep up with the materials, get help as needed, and do the homework.     

Students with Disabilities/Need of Accommodations for Access:
Winthrop University is committed to providing access to education.  If you have a condition which may adversely impact your ability to access academics and/or campus life, and you require specific accommodations to complete this course, contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 803-323-3290, or, Please inform me as early as possible, once you have your official notice of accommodations from the Office of Disability Services. 

Winthrop’s Academic Success Center:
Winthrop’s Academic Success Center (ASC) is a free resource for all undergraduate students seeking to perform their best academically.  The ASC offers a variety of personalized and structured resources that help students achieve academic excellence, such as tutoring, academic skill development (test taking strategies, time management counseling, and study techniques), group and individual study spaces, and academic coaching.  The ASC is located on the first floor of Dinkins, Suite 106.  Please contact the ASC at 803-323-3929 or  For more information on ASC services, please visit

Winthrop’s Office of Nationally Competitive Awards (ONCA) identifies and assists highly motivated and talented students to apply for nationally and internationally competitive awards, scholarships, fellowships, and unique opportunities both at home and abroad.   ONCA gathers and disseminates award information and deadlines across the campus community, and serves as a resource for students, faculty, and staff throughout the nationally competitive award nomination and application process. ONCA is located in Dinkins 222. Please fill out an online information form at the bottom of the ONCA webpage and email for more information.

Student Conduct Code: The policy on student academic misconduct is outlined in the “Student Conduct Code Academic Misconduct Policy” in the online Student Handbook ( 

Syllabus change policy: The instructor will make changes to this syllabus as deemed necessary for the progression of the course.

Tests & Final: Two tests (20% each) and a comprehensive final (40%) are scheduled as follows.


Tests and Final

Content Description


Test #1

Special Relativity, Photons & Matter waves.  


Test #2

Quantum Physics, Atomic physics, and Conduction of electricity in solids.


Nuclear physics, Nuclear Energy, and particle physics.

5/2/16  8 AM 

Final Exam



Points & Grade:
Tests: 40% (20% each), Homework: 20%, and Final: 40%.
The letter grade will be assigned as follows:

100% - 90% = A     89% - 87% = A-    86% - 84% = B+    83% - 80% = B    79% - 77% = B-   
    76%-74% = C+   73% - 67% = C     66% - 64% = C-     63%-60% = D      59%- 0%  = F