Click on this link for the Physics 355: Optics Laboratory Syllabus.

Course Syllabus

Physics 354: Optics

Fall Semester 2005

Instructor:                 Dr. Steven Sahyun

Office:                         321 Goodhue Hall

Phone:                        Ext. 5113



Desire2Learn:            The D2L site is linked from the UWW web site ( and from the class Web site.

Office Hours:             M, W: 4 - 4:45 UH141E; T: 1:30 - 2:30 GO321;

                                    T: 5:00 - 6:00 UH141E; Th 12:30 - 1:30 GO 321.    

Class Meetings:         Tu, Th 3:45 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

355 Laboratory:        Thursdays 6:15 - 9:15 p.m.

Exams:                       Midterms: September 27,  November 8

                                    Final: December 20 3:15 - 5:15 p.m.

Papers:                       Paper 1: October 18; Paper 2: November 29

Text:                           Eugene Hecht: Optics, 4th ed.

Pre-requisite:             Physics 174, or Physics 162, and Math 254.


Other required materials: You are expected to bring paper, a scientific calculator (one with trigonometric and logarithmic functions, scientific notation, etc. These are available for less than $20), and a data storage device (zip disk and/or USB).


Course Description: This course provides an introductory study of optical phenomena. Geometrical and physical optics beginning with a mathematical treatment of light waves and their interaction with materials. Topics also include interference diffraction, spectroscopy and spectroscopic instruments, polarization, light sources and detectors, lasers, holography, and some topics in modern optics.


Class Pedagogy: Much Physics Education research has shown the worth of active learning classroom strategies. This course will attempt to implement these as much as possible through the use of student presentation of material, in-class activities, and discussion sessions. A result is that there will be (hopefully) very little of me deriving equations on the board. There are many excellent sources of notes on the Web relating to material that we will cover (for example I highly recommend to satisfy your desire for additional notes.


Daily Readings: Read the assigned sections (listed on the course Web site) in the book before coming to class. Write down one question that you have related to the assigned material for discussion and turn it in at the beginning of class.


Homework:  Each class period your will be expected to have two solved homework problems of your choosing ready to present to the rest of the class. The homework problems will be chosen from the end of the chapter questions (or similar questions) relating to material covered in the previous class (see the reading schedule for exact pages.) You will turn your solutions in at the start of class for credit. Two or three semi-randomly selected people will present one of their homework solutions to the class for additional credit. Homework may not be turned in late.


Activities: There will usually be a graded in-class activity. You will turn in a results sheet for the dayıs activity at the end of the class period. Due to the nature of the in-class activities, it may not be possible to offer make-up on this item.


Papers: There will be two papers assigned during the course. The first will be a report and explanation of an article from an optics magazine. The second will be a topic of your choosing relating to material covered in class. You will make a short presentation about your paper to the rest of the class (PowerPoint). Late papers will be graded at half credit; no credit for late/no presentations.


Exams: There will be two mid-term exams as well as a comprehensive final. Exams may not be taken late, but under special circumstances they may be taken early. Make-up exams will only be provided for extraordinary circumstances, must have prior approval (at least 1 day in advance), and are not advised as they will be more difficult than the regular tests. Questions for the exams will be similar to submitted homework problems and to problems in the in-class activities.


Laboratory: The Optics Laboratory (PH355) is listed as a separate course. You will receive a separate grade for your laboratory papers. Thus the lab grade is not included in your PH354 Optics course grade.


Grading: Course grades will be determined by the percentage of total points assigned for the course. 90% = A, 80% = B, 70% = C, 60% = D. The approximate assignment of points will be as follows:



Exam 1


Exam 2




Paper 1


Presentation 1


Paper 2


Presentation 2


Participation: problem presentation 4´1 = 4; in-class activities 23 ´ 1 = 23


Homework (2 problems ´ 0.5 ´ 23)





I reserve the right to adjust grades slightly based on class participation.  There may be occasional opportunities for extra credit.


The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is dedicated to a safe, supportive and non-discriminatory learning environment.  It is the responsibility of all undergraduate and graduate students to familiarize themselves with University policies regarding Special accommodations, Misconduct, Religious Beliefs Accommodation, Discrimination and Absence for University Sponsored Events.  (For details please refer to the Undergraduate and Graduate Timetables; the "Rights and Responsibilities" section of the Undergraduate Bulletin; the Academic Requirements and Policies and the Facilities and Services sections of the Graduate Bulletin; and the "Student Academic Disciplinary Procedures" [UWS Chapter 14]; and the "Student Nonacademic Disciplinary Procedures" [UWS Chapter 17]).


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Updated: August 23, 2005