Bryn Mawr College, Department of Physics
Physics 324:  Optics, Fall 2016
Instructor:  Michael Noel, Park Science Center - Room 347, Phone:  5363, e-mail:

Content and goals:  This course covers principles of geometrical and physical optics. Topics include electromagnetic waves and their propagation in both isotropic and anisotropic media; interference, diffraction, and Fourier optics; coherence theory; ray optics and image formation; and, as time permits, an introduction to the quantum nature of light.  Our goal is for you to gain a solid conceptual understanding of each of these topics as well as develop the mathematical framework used to model various phenomena.  Prerequisite: PHYS 201.  Corequisite: PHYS 306.  The assignments page provides a schedule of course activities and will be updated regularly, you should check it often for reading and homework assignments.  

Office hours:  See the assignments page for current times.
You set the agenda for office hours.  Come with questions about the lecture, reading, homework, exams, grading, or anything else of concern or interest.  Come in groups or as individuals.  If you would like to discuss something in private, please make a separate appointment with me.

Textbook:  The text (really a set of very nice notes written by Daniel Steck) that we'll use for Optics, PHYS 324, is available on line at:  For an alternative presentation of much of the material you can also have a look at the free textbook written by Peatross and Ware,  I have also placed several texts on reserve in the library.

Homework:  Homework questions will be posted on the Physics 324 assignments web page.  You are encouraged to discuss the homework questions with one another but must write up your answers separately and in your own words.   For additional help and discussion on the homework questions please stop by Mike's office hours.

Exams:  There will be three in-class exams during the semester as well as a three-hour self-scheduled final exam.  All exams will be closed book. 

homework: 30% total,
midterm exams: 15% each for the best two scores, 10% for the lowest score,
final exam: 30%
Accommodations:  Bryn Mawr College is committed to providing equal access to students with a documented disability.  Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first register with Access Services.  Students can call 610-526-7516 to make an appointment with the Coordinator of Access Services, Deb Alder, or email her at to begin this confidential process.  Once registered, students should schedule an appointment with the professor as early in the semester as possible to share the verification form and make appropriate arrangements.  Please note that accommodations are not retroactive and require advance notice to implement.  More information can be obtained at the Access Services website. (