Physics 201: Modern Physics

Fall 2013

This course will review two revolutionary concepts that in early 20th century transformed human understanding of the Universe: relativity and quantum mechanics.  We will also discuss some applications of these revolutionary theories, selected from the fields of Atomic and Molecular, Condensed Matter, Nuclear and Particle Physics.

Lectures:  MWF 10:00-10:50 am in Small 111

Tutorials: Fridays 2:00-2:50 pm in Small 111

Instructor: Irina Novikova

Office: Small 251
E-mail: ixnovi[at]
Office hours: MW 8.30 – 10am or by appointment
Telephone: (757) 221-3693

Web-site: or in Blackboard

Grader: Aria Johansen


E-mail: arjohansen[at]
Office hours (grading questions only): by appointment

E-mail is my preferred communication method for any technical or organizational questions. I am usually very good about answering quickly, but please write your e-mails under assumption that it may take a day or two for me to reply. Also I would like to strongly discourage any physics questions over the e-mail: it is much more efficient to discuss those in person.

Required text: R. A. Serway, C. J. Moses, and C. A. Moyer (SMM): Modern Physics, 3rd  Ed. (ISBN 9780534493394). We will be using this book extensively in the course; most of the HW problems are from there.

Suggested math supplement: Mary Boas: Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, 3rd Ed., Wiley. This book introduces many mathematical concepts needed for most undergraduate and introductory graduate physics courses at a somewhat “low-key” level. The text is clear and easy to follow.

Prerequisites: This course assumes a background in first year physics at the level of Phys 101-102 or Phys 107-108, and calculus at the level of Math 111-112.

Homework: There will be 12 homework assignments during this course. Each assignment consists of several problems (typically from SMM) and due beginning of the corresponding Friday class. Late assignments will be accepted with a 50% penalty when submitted on or before Monday class following the due date. Any assignment turned in after that time will not be accepted (unless you obtained a permission form me beforehand).

Course schedule and Homework Assignments

Extra credit presentations




Two midterm tests

20% each

Final exam