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Science

Over the last century, science and its technological manifestations have altered every aspect of how we live, work and attempt to understand our world. Science and technology continue to shape our societies with governments, cultures and individuals either pursuing them actively or using their products regularly.

Prof. Rajaram Nityananda
"We seek to prepare students for a life of critical thought with the ability to question scientific ideas, communicate them to the broader culture, pursue science and contribute to science education. These principles have guided the design of Azim Premji University's Science specialization in the undergraduate programme" Read more about him

Majors offered will be Physics and Biology. Strong supporting courses in important areas of chemical and mathematical sciences will be also offered to students. Laboratory and fieldwork are important elements of the programme and not just an adjunct to the lectures. Our programme will also provide educational resources so that students who are interested in science but do not have a traditional science background can engage with science and become professional scientists.

PHYSICS(Click to expand)

Rationale

Viewed at the broadest level, physics studies natural phenomena, and searches for the general laws which govern them. The tools are measurement and experimentation on the one hand, and mathematics and computation on the other. At present, the subject has a large body of well established principles, as well as many exciting frontier areas. The subjects cover a very wide range – from the scale of the whole universe, as in astrophysics, to the smallest constituents of matter, as in particle physics. The laws are formulated in terms of mathematics, which is extensively used in theoretical physics, and has developed a style of its own, distinct from the mathematical mainstream.

The two extremes of particle physics and cosmology, as well as the more esoteric and speculative theories tend to dominate the public perception and the imagination of students, since they excite a sense of awe and wonder. Between these two extremes lies physics at the human and terrestrial scale, which gives us understanding of our everyday experiences, as well as the basis for the technology which increasingly dominates and transforms our lives, for well or ill. The physics of our everyday world underlies many of the opportunities which students with a physics training would take up in their careers. It is closely tied to the teaching of physics at the school level, which can become a passive rote ritual, unless it develops meaning by being linked to students experience and activity.

The relevance of an understanding of physics to the major concerns of humanity, such as energy and climate, means that a basic understanding of the underlying principles is needed by professional practitioners but also those who make decisions in these areas, as well as educated citizens.

Design

While recognizing the sense of excitement and wonder with which many students enter, the first priority is to develop / reinforce the attitudes, skills and discipline which a serious practice of physics demands. The programme schedule in consonance with other undergraduate programmes at the School includes a common curriculum of foundational skills as well as a study of India in context along with introductory physics courses during the first year. The bulk of the major courses are undertaken during the second year. The third year allows for branching into either an honours stream or a study of electives of interest, and notably a rigorous teacher preparation stream in case of the dual-degree B.Sc. B.Ed. Program. The third year of the B.Sc. programme is lighter in physics work-load to enable the student to make career choices in a stress-free environment.

The physics curriculum begins with a broad introductory course which is designed to give a more coherent overview and at the same time fill gaps both in skills and understanding. This first course is intended to rebuild a good foundation on which the rest of the undergraduate programme can rest. The time honoured core structure encompasses mechanics, electricity, heat, light and other wave phenomena, and twentieth century physics. These are the bedrock of undergraduate training everywhere and this programme is no exception.

While the standard set and sequence of core topics is largely fixed by the logical relations between the different areas, and the prerequisites, there is considerable scope for innovation and co-ordination in the details of curriculum and pedagogy, and the levels at which the core courses are offered. Many of the core physics courses carry an integrated laboratory/tutorial component. Such a strong experiential component has been well received and is a distinguishing feature of our efforts thus far.

Student diversity in terms of socio-economic/educational background and aspirations is an integral part of the Azim Premji University’s vision. Our first year is designed to establish a common framework for the basic courses, respecting this diversity. An important role is later played by the advanced courses/ electives / supporting courses into which the students can branch out depending on their interests, strengths, and future educational/ professional plans. Such an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach, neither too focussed nor too diffuse, imparts the skills required for a student to be confident of pursuing a career of choice irrespective of the specific study undertaken. The flexibility in the programme does justice as our experience suggests that for most students such interests, strengths or career plans are not rigidly fixed at entry but can evolve in many cases in the first few semesters.

Course Structure

The types of courses offered during the programme are categorized into core (with or without a lab component), supportive, or elective.

Core courses(Click to expand)

These courses form the foundation of a study of physics and the sequence is similar to that followed elsewhere. Furthermore, the core courses are taken in this sequence by all the undergraduate students in this specialization, irrespective of the degree awarded.

The mandatory core courses are:

  1. Introduction to Physics
  2. Mathematics for Physics-1
  3. Electricity and Magnetism
  4. Mathematics for Physics-2
  5. Mechanics
  6. Thermal Physics
  7. Waves
  8. Modern Physics
  9. Optics

Physics electives(Click to expand)

Some elective courses are intended to give a broader scientific education while others are advanced in nature compared to the core courses. Students may opt for prescribed sequences of electives from the third semester onwards.

An indicative list of electives currently on offer are:

  1. Electronics
  2. Soft matter
  3. Quantum Mechanics
  4. Advanced mechanics
  5. Advanced electronics
  6. Nonlinear dynamics
  7. Astronomy
  8. Biological Physics

Non-Physics Electives(Click to expand)

Some students, instead of the physics electives may opt for a prescribed sequence of courses from streams other than Physics i.e.

  1. Biology
  2. Economics
  3. Humanities
  4. Mathematics

The courses will include introductory courses from the chosen streams. This option is not available for the BSc.BEd students.

Degrees awarded

The curricula for students majoring in physics fall into three categories as below.

Physics Major (B.Sc. in Physics, 84 credits)
This is the basic framework for the undergraduate degree with a major in physics.

Physics Major with Honours (B.Sc. in Physics with Honours, 96 credits)
Students opting for Honours pathway are required to study extra physics elective courses worth 6 credits as well as undertake a project.

Dual Degree in Science and Education (Physical Sciences and Education -B.Sc. B.Ed. 120 credits)
Students decide at the time of entry to enrol in the four year dual degree programme.

Click here for further details of the dual degree Programme

Faculty Speak


Click here to listen our faculty Rajaram Nityananda.



BIOLOGY(Click to expand)

The Biology major at Azim Premji University seeks to provide a modern, liberal education in the life sciences with a strong connection to India. The curriculum is designed to develop capacities for critical thinking and quantitative reasoning and impart experimental and analytical skills. In both its conception and its design, the curriculum challenges the traditional view of biology as descriptive and non-mathematical.

At the time of graduation, students are expected to be conversant with biological phenomena across length scales (Molecules to Ecosystems) and time scales (Milliseconds to Millennia); be able to link concepts introduced in courses with phenomena observed in everyday life; develop the ability to read biological texts; acquire diverse experimental skills; become acquainted with data analysis and visualization techniques; and become familiar with the process of knowledge creation in science.

Core Courses
  • Introduction to Biology I &II
  • Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
  • Introduction to Genetics
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Understanding Plants
  • General Chemistry
  • Quantitative Methods in Biology
  • Calculus Or Pre-Calculus
  • Physics for Biologists I
Electives
  • Physics for Biologists II
  • Research Methods in Biology
  • Introduction to Biophysics
  • Introduction to Ecology
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Biology Research Seminar
  • Organic Chemistry

Electives mentioned above are indicative and may have certain introductory courses as pre-requisites.

Honours pathway

The biology specialization has a vibrant honours pathway, which is designed to give qualified students an opportunity to engage with their major more intensively. Students in the honours pathway take an additional 12 credits, 6 of which are acquired through additional coursework and 6 through project work. Through the project, students receive rigorous training in posing scientific questions, conceptualizing testable hypotheses, conducting experiments, and documenting their results in the form of presentations and a thesis.

Faculty Speak


Click here to listen to our faculty Sravanti Uppaluri.




Graduating from the programme requires completion of 84 credits spread across the Major (48 credits for standard pathway and 60 for the honours pathway) and Common Curriculum courses (36 credits).




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