The Physical Sciences major offers a wide range of courses, including introductory electives for non-majors, introductory courses for both majors and non-majors, core methods and topical courses, and upper-division electives for majors who have completed the core courses. You can find out a bit more about the types of courses below, as well as which courses fall into these categories. You may also want to explore:
- The Yale-NUS Registry Course Catalog for a complete list of courses offered by the major, the course descriptions, the name of the most recent course instructors, and the courses’ pre-requisites.
- This spreadsheet for a short one-page list of all courses offered by Physical Sciences, including typical semesters offered and important notes such as pre-requisites (but lacks the detailed information found in the Registry Course Catalog).
If you have questions about specific courses or are unsure which Physical Sciences courses might be best for you, please reach out to the Head of Studies, any of the Physical Science faculty, and/or the most recent course instructor (listed on the Course Catalog page).
Types of Courses
The Physical Sciences major offers courses in the following broad categories:
Introductory Electives for Non-majors: These 1000-level introductory courses are a great first stop for non-majors who want to broaden their horizons and for students who are considering the major but are still undecided. These courses do not fulfill requirements for the major or minor. These lower-division electives include Creativity, Imagination, and Theoretical Physics (YSC1217; 2.5MC), Molecular Perspectives (YSC1218; 2.5MC), Introduction to Black Holes (YSC1219; 2.5MC), Physics of the Electric Guitar (YSC1221; 2.5MC), More is Different: Emergence in Physical Systems (YSC1220; 2.5MC), and Science Skills Workshop (YSC2251; 2.5MC). Some (but not all) of these courses are offered every year.
Introductory Courses for Everyone: These 1000-level courses supply the foundational knowledge required for the major and are the recommended place to start for prospective majors. These courses are also appropriate for non-majors who have taken calculus (either at Yale-NUS or in high school). These courses are General Chemistry (YSC1207) and General Physics (YSC1213). Both of these courses are offered annually.
Methods Courses: These 2000-level courses are appropriate for all physical sciences majors and develop essential skills for upper-division courses and research. These courses are recommended to all our majors and are open to non-majors with sufficient preparation by instructor approval. These methods courses include Mathematical Methods in Physical Sciences (YSC2205; fulfills the major’s math requirement), Experimental Methods in Physical Sciences (YSC2246; fulfills the major’s lab requirement), and Computational Methods in Physical Sciences (YSC2237). At least two of these courses will be offered every year.
Core Topical Courses: These 2000/3000-level courses are essential courses to ensure our students have the necessary background in chemistry or physics. Some of these courses fulfill major requirements and some are necessary for students to attend graduate programs. These courses include Classical Mechanics (YSC2203; fulfills a major requirement), Accelerated Organic Chemistry (YSC2224; fulfills a major requirement), Organic Chemistry Lab (YSC2222; co-enrollment with YSC2224 strongly recommended), Physical Chemistry (YSC2225), Analytical Chemistry with Laboratory (YSC2248), Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (YSC3210), Introduction to Electrodynamics (YSC3211), and Statistical Thermodynamics (YSC3224; required). These courses will be offered every year.
Upper-division Electives: These 3000/4000-level courses are only suitable for our upper-division majors once they have taken most of the core topical courses. While these courses are not offered every year, they are rotated through on a regular basis with some flexibility based on demand. These courses include Modern Astrophysics (YSC3246), Organometallic Chemistry (YSC4205), Solid State Physics (YSC4207), Theory of Quantum Information and Computing (YSC4214), Advanced Polymer Chemistry (YSC4218), Advanced Organic Chemistry (YSC4219), Advanced Quantum Mechanics (YSC4221), Chaos Theory (YSC4222), and Physics in Curved Spacetime (YSC4223).
Final Year Capstone and Research Seminar: Student in their final year required to complete a capstone experience that includes a piece of original research conducted under the close supervision of a faculty member. The Physical Sciences Capstone Project (YSC4101) is equivalent to 5MCs and must be taken in both semesters of students’ final year. Students in their final year must also enrol in the Physical Sciences Research Seminar (YSC4209) in both semesters, worth 2.5MCs per semester. In this course, students practice their science communication skills, begin the background literature search for their capstone, receive advice on applications to PhD programs and job searches in industry, and are exposed to research and job opportunities outside Yale-NUS via guest speakers.
Cross-listed Courses, Courses Offered by Other Majors, NUS Courses, and/or Study Abroad
Several courses are cross-listed with Physical Sciences that count towards fulfilling major requirements. At Yale-NUS, these courses include Biochemistry (YSC3214; Life Sciences), Principles of Biophysics (YSC3243; Life Sciences), and several MCS options that fulfil the math requirement (details here). Students may also fulfil major requirements (either as substitutes for required courses or as electives for the major) during study abroad or via courses at NUS with permission of the Head of Studies. Students are encouraged to consider NUS courses if Yale-NUS is not offering an upper-division elective of interest or if they want to gain additional depth to prepare for graduate studies.