Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the physics major a student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate command of the material from the 100- and 200-level Introductory Physics classes: classical mechanics; electricity, magnetism and optics; oscillations/waves; thermal physics, special relativity, and quantum mechanics; introductory electronics, computational physics, and experimental physics.
  2. Apply physical models and computational/analytical techniques used by practicing physicists to solve problems in the foundational areas of classical mechanics, electrodynamics, and quantum mechanics. i.e., material covered by the junior-level Reed Physics core lecture courses
  3. Execute a significant independent research project:
    • choose and define a research topic of contemporary interest from a subdiscipline of physics
    • design and execute current experimental or theoretical approaches appropriate to the research topic
    • independently investigate that topic with the support of an advisor
    • in experimental theses, design and construct an experimental station, collect experimental data or assemble data sets from appropriate sources, and evaluate the data using appropriate analytical or theoretical techniques; in theoretical theses, implement up-to-date analytical and/or computational methods to explore and increase understanding of the chosen topic
    • analyze, critique, and evaluate existing scholarship
  4. Communicate work done:
    • write a clear and coherent document that is substantially longer than a traditional term paper or project and formatted in a style appropriate to physics research literature
    • present, discuss and defend research orally, couching results in the context of accepted physical models and existing research literature

The primary assessment tool for learning in the major at Reed and the level of student achievement in these areas, is the senior thesis; the junior qualifying examination serves as the secondary assessment tool. See more information on the thesis and the junior qualifying examination.