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Paradigms and Capstones at Oregon State University

The middle- and upper-division courses for physics majors have been extensively reordered compared to traditional curricula. The junior-year “paradigms” classes are each three weeks long and meet every day for a total of seven hours each week. Each course focuses on a single illustrative example from physics. The senior-year “capstone” classes cover the more advanced topics of a traditional second semester. Together, these courses cover roughly the same content as a single semester in each of the traditional physics subdisciplines.

(The links below take you to the course home pages, which include both a brief description and detailed content information. For the content only, go here.)

New Paradigms Courses (5 Intensive Weeks: 28 Physics, 7 Math Contact Hours)

FIXME After 20 wonderful years(!!), we are in the process of revising the Paradigms courses. The new courses will be described here as they become standardized. Archival descriptions of the old courses can be found below. The new courses are now five intensive weeks (35 contact hours) which includes one week (7 contact hours) of integrated mathematical methods, called Math Bits. The Math Bits only could act as a standalone mathematical methods course.

Fall of Year 3

Winter of Year 3

Spring of Year 3

Old Paradigms Courses (3 Intensive Weeks Each, 21 Contact Hours)

More about the philosophy of Paradigms

Fall of Year 3

Winter of Year 3

Spring of Year 3

Capstone Courses (Typically taught at the end of year 3 and in year 4)

Mathematics Courses


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