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Physics


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.

Programmes Offered

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 4-year B.Sc.B.Ed Dual Degree Programme.

Faculty

Jayanth Vyasanakere
Ph.D. Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
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Kaustubh Manchanda
Ph.D Nonlinear Dynamics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
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Kripa Gowrishankar
Ph.D., Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru
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Murthy O V S N
Ph.D. in Semiconductor Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
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Proteep Mallik
MS Optical Sciences
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Rajaram Nityananda
Ph.D. Physics, Bengaluru University
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Rema Krishnaswamy
Ph.D. Physics, Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru
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Richard Fernandes
Ph.D., Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru
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