American University of Beirut

Department of Physics

Chairperson:Touma, Jihad R.
Professor Emeritus:Mavromatis, Harry A.
Professors:Antar, Ghassan Y.; Chamseddine, Ali H.; Isber, Samih T.; Kazan, Michel J.; Klushin, Leonid I.; Sabra, Wafic A.; Tabbal, Malek D.; Touma, Jihad R.
Assistant Professors:Haidar, Mohamad J. ; Najem, Sara A.
Lecturers:Al-Sayegh, Amara A.; Harajli, Zainab; Malaeb, Ola; Rahbany, Nancy​

BS in Physics

Mission Statement

The program leading to the Bachelor of Science emphasizes the fundamental concepts and principles of physics and their roles in a variety of disciplines with a liberal arts setting. The educational focus of the Physics Department is to provide the students with high-quality instruction in theoretical and experimental physics. Consequently, theoretical courses, together with computer modeling experience and a comprehensive set of laboratory experiments, introduce the students to various methods of inquiry and research in physics. The emphasis is not only on subject instruction, but also on the development of communication and teamwork skills, as well as critical and analytical thinking. The program is designed to graduate well-rounded, free-thinking individuals with inquisitive minds who are well prepared for further study in basic and applied research and are capable of pursuing professional careers in a variety of fields.

The Department of Physics offers courses at the undergraduate level leading to a bachelor’s degree in physics.

The requirements for a BS in Physics are 90 credits for students entering at the sophomore level.

Degree Requirements

The degree requirements is divided into the General Education requirements, set by the university in accordance with its mission statement as a Liberal Art institution, and the Physics requirements set by the Physics Department.

The General Education requirements include:

  • 9 credits in Understanding Communication divided into 3 credits in Arabic and 6 credits in English
  • 9credits in Cultures and Histories
  • 3 credit in Human Values. At least one of the courses from Cultures and Histories or Human Values should be from the History of Ideas: CHLA.
  • 3 credits in Community Engaged Learning
  • 6 credits in Societies and Individuals
  • 3 credits in one Understanding the World course must be from outside the major and approved as a General Education course.
  • At least one course from your degree requirements (except Understanding Communication) should cover the theme of Social Inequalities (3 credits).

The Physics requirements include:

  • 39 credits in Physics divided into 27 credits of required Physics courses, 6 credits elective Physics courses, and 6 credits of required Physics Lab courses (the total number is 40 credits if PHYS 228/228L are chosen as an elective)
  • 9 credits in Quantitative Reasoning including 6 credits in Math (MATH 201 and 202) and 3 credits in CMPS 201 or EECE 230
  • 12 credits of free electives

The program for the Physics major includes the following required courses: PHYS 212, PHYS 214, PHYS 216, PHYS 217, PHYS 221L, PHYS 220, PHYS 222, PHYS 235, PHYS 236, PHYS 257L, PHYS 299A, and PHYS 299B. Moreover, two elective courses must be selected from PHYS 218, PHYS 223, PHYS 225, 226, PHYS 228/228L, PHYS 231, PHYS 232, PHYS 249, or any other elective offered in PHYS. Also required are the following courses in mathematics: MATH 201, MATH 202, and CMPS 201 or EECE 230.

Freshman students who intend to major in Physics are required to complete PHYS 101 and PHYS 101L with a minimum cumulative average of 2.3 and to complete MATH 101 and MATH 102 (or their equivalent) with a minimum cumulative average of 2.3. More details can be found under the Freshman Courses section of this catalogue.

Students who wish to transfer to physics must obtain a cumulative average of at least 2.3 in the physics courses normally taken in the sophomore year and a cumulative average of at least 2.3 in MATH 201 and 202 before they are allowed to proceed to junior level courses.

Physics majors whose physics average falls below 2.3 or whose cumulative average in MATH 201 and 202 is below 2.3 after three terms in the major will be dropped from the Department.

The minor in physics requires 18 credits including PHYS 212, 221L and one of the following three courses (PHYS 210, PHYS 211 or PHYS 214), plus 9 credits selected from PHYS 217, PHYS 220, PHYS 226, PHYS 235, PHYS 236 or a special topic course.

PHYS 101, PHYS 101L, PHYS 210, PHYS 210L, PHYS 211, PHYS 211L, and PHYS 212 are introductory courses for students of chemistry or engineering.

PHYS 103, PHYS 103L, PHYS 204, PHYS 204L, PHYS 205 and PHYS 205L are introductory courses for students in nursing, public health, biology, petroleum geosciences, and for students wishing to enter the medical school but are not physics or chemistry majors.

PHYS 204, PHYS 204L, PHYS 205 and PHYS 205L are not equivalent totally or in part to the following: PHYS 210, PHYS 210L, PHYS 211, PHYS 211L or PHYS 212. Students shall receive credit for courses in only one of the preceding two sets.

Course Descriptions

39 Credits in Physics

Modes of Analysis Understanding Communication - English and Arabic (9) Cultures and Histories (9), Human Values (3) Societies and Individuals (Min. 6) Understanding the World (39), Quantitative Reasoning (6) Community-Engaged Learning (3)
Lecture Courses (9+12+6+33
+3+12+9 +3)

Required Arabiccourse (3)

Required English courses: ENGL 203(3), 204(3)

Required credits in the Cultures and Histories: 9 credits including History of Ideas and 3 credits Human Values Two required courses

Nine required courses : PHYS 212, 214, 216, 217, 220, 222, 235, 236 , PHYS 299A, PHYS 299B (27)

Two elective physics from PHYS 218, 223, 225, 226, (228 + 228L),231, 232, 237, 249, or other selected topics (6)

Understanding the World from outside the
major (3)

Four free elective

courses (12) from

inside or outside the


Three required: MATH 201, 202, and CMPS 201, or EECE 230 (9)

Required course (3)

Laboratory (6)


   Required Physics Labs: PHYS 221L(3), 257L(3) (6) 

Research Project


   The following courses may include a research project: PHYS 222, 226, 231, 232, 235, 236, 249 ​

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