The department offers several quite distinct introductory sequences in physics, only one of which may be taken for credit:
- PHYS UN 1201–2, General Physics, is satisfactory preparation for medical school and is appropriate for most non-science major premedical students. This course, devoted to algebra-based physics, is taught at Columbia in a large lecture hall setting. It is not recommended as a foundation for more advanced work in the field. PHYS UN 1301-2 is similar but uses calculus.
- PHYS BC 2001-2, 3001, Physics I, II, III, is Barnard’s own three-semester, calculus based introductory sequence in physics. Characterized by modest class sizes, it is designed specifically for Barnard women with a serious interest in any of the natural sciences or mathematics. Moreover, it is especially appropriate for majors in physics, chemistry, or biochemistry, whether premedical or not. Biology majors with some calculus background are also encouraged to take this sequence. Finally, Barnard women contemplating a major in physics or astronomy should take PHYS BC 2001–2 in their first year, if possible, or in their second at the latest, to be followed by the third-semester course, Waves and Optics.
- First-year students with exceptional aptitude for physics (as evidenced, for example, by scores of 4 or 5 on the advanced placement C exam) and a good mathematical background may be admitted into the Columbia-taught two-semester sequence PHY UN 2801–02 General Physics, which replaces all three terms of the sequence for majors. Students inclined toward this sequence are strongly encouraged to consult a Barnard faculty member at the start of the term.
Students unsure about the most appropriate sequence should consult members of the department.
The following courses may be substituted for each other:
- PHYS BC 2001 and UN 1601 with UN 1691
- PHYS BC 2002 and UN 1602 with UN 1692
- PHYS BC 3001 and UN 2601
- ASTR BC 1753–4 and UN 1403–4