PHYS 6330
Classical and Modern Physics III
Topic: Modern Physics
Course is offered every summer from mid-May to early August


Instructor permission is required to take this course to make sure all teachers are adequately prepared. An undergraduate degree is required. Normally PHYS 6310 and 6320 have already been taken. If not, then two semesters of calculus-based introductory physics including mechanics, heat and thermodynamics, fluids, electricity, magnetism, and optics should already be completed. Contact Professor Thornton by email to obtain permission. You might include a brief summary of physics courses taken and teaching experience to save time. Sometimes other people want to take this course, because they need to learn about modern physics, particularly for a job related reason. You must have an undergraduate 4-year college degree and have completed the same two calculus-based introductory physics courses. Again contact Professor Thornton for permission as above.


A comprehensive study of modern physics using some calculus and emphasizing concepts and problem solving. This course is intended for in-service teachers, particularly those desiring to be (or already are) high school physics teachers. This course can be used for teachers who are seeking endorsement or certification to teach high school physics. This is a required course for the UVa Masters of Art in Physics Education.

Physics 6330, Modern Physics, is tailored to fit the needs of current teachers for whom the typical university class schedule is not convenient.

  • Do you need more physics content?
  • Do you need recertification points?
  • Would you like to add a physics teaching endorsement?

This distance-learning course can help you reach all of these goals. You can take it from anywhere in the world. It is structured to allow you to complete all of the assignments without travelling to Charlottesville. Although there are completion deadlines, you may work at a faster pace and complete the course in less than a semester.

This distance-learning course will introduce

  • relativity
  • particle and wave properties of matter
  • atomic structure
  • quantum mechanics
  • the quantum mechanical model of the atom
  • subfields of physics including solid state (transistors and solar cells), nuclear (reactors), particle physics, cosmology (origin of the universe).

The organization of the course is based on the textbook. This website supplements the required textbook readings. See


Stephen T. Thornton, Professor of Physics.


This is a distance-learning course taught entirely via the Internet. There is considerable flexibility for when the work is done, but it generally needs to be done between mid May and the first week in August.. Students may start the class as late as June 1 with permission from Professor Thornton. Flexibility will be allowed for those going on vacation or taking other workshops/courses during the summer. However, there will be deadlines for homework and exams during the 3 month time period, and because this is a serious course, it is not possible to put the work off until the last few weeks. The Instructor can change the suggested deadlines for individual students who have a varied summer schedule. All assignments will be posted at the beginning of the course. A diligent student working full time on just this course could finish in 3-4 weeks, but probably would not fully absorb the content.

Course Tuition/Registration:

PHYS 6330 carries three credit hours of graduate credit. We find that the information on tuition changes from time to time. Please contact the UVa School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) for the latest information. Because instructor permission is required for this course, you cannot register online. Please contact Professor Thornton (email:; phone: 434-924-6808) to first obtain permission. We just want to make sure teachers have an appropriate background. If you have already completed PHYS 6310 and 6320, Professor Thornton may have already given permission to SCPS for you to register for the course. Then please call one of the following numbers to register by phone: 434-982-5252, 434-982-5316, 434-982-2779 through the UVa School of Continuing and Professional Studies. In-state and out-of-state tuition rates are available. These phone numbers change from year to year, so you may need to try all three of them.


Grades will be determined by the following (subject to change):

  • Homework problems: 20%
  • Chapter tests: 40%
  • Final Exam: 40%


Modern Physics for Scientists and Engineers, 4/e
Author: Stephen T. Thornton & Andrew Rex
Publisher: Brooks/Cole (Cengage Learning) Publishing
ISBN#: 978-1-133-10372-1 or 1-133-10372-3
See for textbook purchase information.