Chemistry and Physics

Brief Description of Concentration

Chemistry and PhysicsThere is exciting science on the somewhat arbitrary and fluid boundary between chemistry and physics. Chemists and physicists often study the same phenomena in slightly different ways, and it is very useful, in the boundary area, to have training in both fields. Recognizing this, the physics department has for many years offered the concentration in Chemistry and Physics. 

Learning Objectives

The Chemistry & Physics concentration is structured to assure that all concentrators are introduced to the core subjects of chemistry (organic, inorganic, and physical); of physics (mechanics, electromagnetism, waves, and quantum theory); and of mathematics.  

Gateway Courses

  • Life Sciences 1a (LS 1a) or Physical Sciences 1 (PS1) is useful as a general introduction to Chemistry.
  • Physical Sciences 10 (PS10) is strongly recommended for students interested in the Chemistry and Physics concentration because it combines statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics, two of the most important topics in physics and chemistry, at an accessible level.
  • Most Chemistry and Physics students will begin their physics program with mechanics in Physics 15a or 16 or 19, and continue with Physics 15b and c. However, it is also possible to get started by taking Physical Sciences 12a/b or AP50a/b. Students in these courses who are interested in the Chemistry and Physics concentration should consult the Director or Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies, who will work with them to design an appropriate plan of study.
  • Mathematics is an indispensable tool in chemistry and physics, and students will find it very useful to improve their math skills early in their academic careers, by taking two courses at the Math 21 level, along with any needed prerequisites.


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