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Department of Physics

Bachelor of Science, Physics
Senior Assignment Guidelines (PHYS 499AB)


PHYS 499A and PHYS 499B are required courses for the BS degree in Physics.  The student project shall be done over a period of at least two semesters, though the actual time taking data or computing will not normally exceed 15 weeks (a project appropriate for an undergraduate).

PHYS 499A (3 credit-hours)
The Role of the Student

  • Pick an advisor and define a project.
  • Choose faculty members willing to serve on the student's three member committee (including the advisor).  The committee should include at least one member not associated with the general field of research (e.g. a theorist in the case of an experimental project).
  • Become functionally competent with the resources available to the student (e.g., student should be able to make a simple but representative measurement independently, write an relevant and operational piece of software, or pilot an interview protocol with analysis).
  • Perform a literature review.  This may be as simple as reading literature already selected by the advisor, but it should be a reasonable review for an undergraduate.
  • Write a proposal for the project.  This proposal must be defended orally before the committee and approved by the committee.
  • Begin work on the project.

The Role of the Committee

  • Be a resource for the student and the advisor.
  • Grant student permission to begin the project which will be presented in a poster and a paper for Phys 499B.
  • Confirm and assign a passing grade for the student for Phys 499A on the proposed project.

PHYS 499B (2 credit-hours)
The Role of the Student

  • Execute the project.
  • Write a formal report of the project, a copy of which will be archived.
  • Present the project in a formal talk (30 minutes at most, open to the public) during which the student will be expected to answer questions about the work.
  • Prepare and present a poster presentation of the work during the Physics Department Research Week (coordinated by the Seminar Committee) held each Semester.

The Role of the Committee

  • Review the written and oral work of the student, including the proposal, the final paper, and the final presentation of the project.
  • Ensure that appropriately high standards are maintained (e.g., the quality and quantity of the work, and that the expectations given in the project outline are met or exceeded by the student).
  • Determine the student’s grade for Phys 499B based on the project paper and poster presentation.

Revised 2017 May 8
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