Why UR Physics?

Why UR Physics

Richmond’s physics faculty know that students learn best when they are challenged to uncover the secrets of nature in an independent, hands-on way. The department has built a research-rich environment that embraces all courses from introductory ones to senior research.

Introductory physics is taught in a workshop format, emphasizing active learning rather than the more passive approach of lecture courses. In any given class meeting, activities will range from laboratory work, lecture, discussion, problem-solving, and demonstration. The goal is for students to discover the laws of nature for themselves instead of simply learning them from a professor or text. For example, to understand Newton’s Laws, students use special sensors to measure the forces on different objects when they collide. Next, they apply this knowledge in a "theory lab" where they build a mathematical model of a gas and establish the links between the pressure exerted by the gas and the collisions of the molecules that create this pressure.

Many upper-level physics classes require both individual and team projects. Students identify a project of their own (often outside the normal "skill set" of the professor), locate the necessary equipment and resources, and pursue the scientific question. In the past, students have built wind tunnels to study flight, simulated the path of a curveball, and measured the flux of cosmic rays on the Earth.

The department requires a capstone experience of all seniors. Seniors identify a question to study, present a research proposal to the faculty and other physics majors and perform the experimental and theoretical work needed to answer the question. At the conclusion of the experience, they present a final report to their faculty and peers.

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Before Coming to Campus 

The University of Richmond offers unique programs to enhance student engagement, build community, foster academic success, and support student growth.  Richmond Scholars is a scholarship program eligible for students who apply to Richmond by the designated date.  The program aims to assist future leaders as they begin to define and polish their personal and professional goals. The Richmond Endeavor is a combined academic and residential experience for first-year students that begins before the start of classes.  The program aims to create meaningful bonds and friendships with their fellow classmates, develop a relationship with a faculty member during their first year at Richmond, and connect their interests both inside and outside of the classroom.  URISE is a pre-first year program for students with an interest in science and math. The program aims to increase the number of students from groups traditionally underrepresented in science and math disciplines