Department of Physics

BSc in Physics

Nazarbayev University Physics program is designed utilizing the recommendations and guidelines by relevant professional organizations such as the American Physics Society (APS), the UK Institute of Physics (IoP), the ABET Accreditation and several universities’ physics departments, and submitted for quality review and approval by the SSH Curriculum Committee. The program structure is in compliance with the general criteria as established under the European Consortium for Accreditation guidelines (otherwise known as the “Bologna Accords”), adopted by the Republic of Kazakhstan, where students are required to spend between 1500-1800 hour workload per academic year.

The educaitonal objectives of the Physics program at the NU are for our graduates to aspire to:

The curriculum of the Bachelor of Science in Physics program at Nazarbayev University provides enrolled students with an extensive understanding of the fundamental laws of physics. Students also learn to maximize their abstract reasoning skills and the particulars of creative science using mathematical, computational, and experimental approaches.

Our graduates with a BSc in Physics degree from NU School of Sciences and Humanities are prepared for careers and graduate studies in the physical sciences and engineering in the country and abroad. Additionally, we expose our students to working environments through academic and industrial research to become graduates primed for careers and opportunities that require them to work among teams and exhibit sound communication skills.

Students will develop comprehensive understanding of the fundamental laws of physics, abstract reasoning ability and creative scientific approach supplemented by mathematical, computational and experimental skills. Students are also expected to develop a mature understanding of their personal strengths and interests in physics research and beyond.

The Program will prepare students for national and international careers and/or graduate studies in diverse areas of physical sciences and engineering. Additional outcomes preparing students for modern science and technology careers will include the ability to work effectively within a team, strong scientific communication skills, and exposure to academic and/or industrial research environments.

**Click here, if you would like to learn more about the program and the admission requirements!**

The educaitonal objectives of the Physics program at the NU are for our graduates to aspire to:

- Lead a successful career as scientifically and technologically well-informed and ethical graduate students, researchers, educators, academics, and entrepreneurs
- Contribute to technological growth, establishment of a knowledge-based economy, development of policies and decision-making in government agencies and public service in Kazakhstan
- Dedicate themselves to lifelong learning and continuing professional development to meet complex and rapidly evolving technological and societal challenges in the country and Internationally

The curriculum of the Bachelor of Science in Physics program at Nazarbayev University provides enrolled students with an extensive understanding of the fundamental laws of physics. Students also learn to maximize their abstract reasoning skills and the particulars of creative science using mathematical, computational, and experimental approaches.

Our graduates with a BSc in Physics degree from NU School of Sciences and Humanities are prepared for careers and graduate studies in the physical sciences and engineering in the country and abroad. Additionally, we expose our students to working environments through academic and industrial research to become graduates primed for careers and opportunities that require them to work among teams and exhibit sound communication skills.

Students will develop comprehensive understanding of the fundamental laws of physics, abstract reasoning ability and creative scientific approach supplemented by mathematical, computational and experimental skills. Students are also expected to develop a mature understanding of their personal strengths and interests in physics research and beyond.

The Program will prepare students for national and international careers and/or graduate studies in diverse areas of physical sciences and engineering. Additional outcomes preparing students for modern science and technology careers will include the ability to work effectively within a team, strong scientific communication skills, and exposure to academic and/or industrial research environments.

By the culmination of our program, our students will be able to:

1. Identify, formulate, and solve broadly-defined technical or scientific problems by applying knowledge of mathematics and fundamental laws of physics to describe the physical world.

2. Formulate a physical process, procedure or program to meet desired needs.

3. Develop and conduct physical experiments or test hypotheses, analyze and interpret data and use scientific judgment to draw conclusions.

4. Communicate effectively with a range of audiences.

5. Understand ethical and professional responsibilities and the impact of physical solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.

6. Function effectively on teams that establish goals, plan tasks, meet deadlines, and analyze risk and uncertainty.

1. Identify, formulate, and solve broadly-defined technical or scientific problems by applying knowledge of mathematics and fundamental laws of physics to describe the physical world.

2. Formulate a physical process, procedure or program to meet desired needs.

3. Develop and conduct physical experiments or test hypotheses, analyze and interpret data and use scientific judgment to draw conclusions.

4. Communicate effectively with a range of audiences.

5. Understand ethical and professional responsibilities and the impact of physical solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.

6. Function effectively on teams that establish goals, plan tasks, meet deadlines, and analyze risk and uncertainty.

Download Program Outline here

**Physics I for Scientists and Engineers (PHYS 161)**

This is an introductory calculus-based course covering Mechanics, Mechanical Waves and Thermodynamics. The students will learn to identify fundamental laws of mechanics and thermodynamics in everyday phenomena and to apply these laws to solve basic physics problems and to describe laboratory experiments.

**Introductory Astronomy (PHYS 201 )**

This course presents an overview of introductory-level astronomy for general science and non-science majors. It will broadly cover our present understanding of the Universe. The topics covered are: (i) the methods and tools used in astronomy, (ii) a brief history of astronomy, (iii) the content of the universe from ‘small’ to ‘large’ scales, namely from the solar system, to stars, interstellar medium, galaxies and the universe as a whole.

**Introductory Astrophysics (PHYS 202)**

In the course the students will learn the basic tools of modern astrophysics in one specific domain of study. The course content will focus on one or more of the following topics that are currently at the forefront of research in astrophysics: (i) energetic phenomena in the universe, such as neutron stars and black holes, (ii) the big bang and the evolution of the universe, (iii) the interstellar medium and star formation, (iv) stellar structure and evolution, from the birth of stars to supernovae, (v) the solar system: formation, structure and exploration, (vi) the search for extrasolar planets and habitable worlds.

**Classical Mechanics I (PHYS 221)**

Classical mechanics I can be considered as a first course in theoretical physics. The course deals with the formulation of the laws of mechanics describing the motion of massive bodies under the presence of external forces. This formulation is related to the mathematical structure of space and time and requires several advanced mathematical tools. The relevant mathematical background is to be introduced during the course when required. The course covers Newton’s Laws, Reference frames, Gravitation, Oscillations, Central Motion, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Dynamics. The topics learned in Classical Mechanics constitute the natural starting point for all other branches of theoretical physics including Astrophysics, Quantum Mechanics, Fluid Dynamics, Thermodynamics, Dynamical systems and Relativity.

**Modern Physics with laboratory (PHYS 261)**

This course offers a survey of the “modern” Physics of the 20^{th} century until today, introducing the conceptual shift from the “classical, common sense” Physics that has dominated the scientific worldview since at least the time of Galileo. It introduces special theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, atomic and molecular physics, and solid-state physics. We will also touch some laser physics, particle physics, nuclear physics, astrophysics and cosmology. This course is designed for students majoring in natural sciences and engineering who have good preparation in general physics and calculus and who want to develop basic understanding of quantum/molecular/relativistic concepts, shaping modern natural science, research and advanced technologies.

**Computational Physics (PHYS 270)**

In this course students will acquire the basic skills for solving physics problems numerically. Possible computational tasks will involve graphing, finding roots, numerical interpolation, extrapolation, numerical differentiation and integration, numerical diagonalisation of matrices as well as numerical simulations of physical phenomena governed by differential equations.

**Thermodynamics & Statistical Physics (PHYS 280)**

This course covers major topics of probability, kinetic theory of gases, transport phenomena, laws of classical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics to emphasize the description of measurable macroscopic thermal properties of matter within canonical and grand canonical ensembles directly from classical laws of thermodynamics and from microscopic behavior of individual atoms, molecules or other particles analyzed in the framework of classical and quantum statistical mechanics. We will focus on probability, statistical methods, available micro-states, temperature, Boltzmann and Maxwell-Boltzmann velocity distributions, molecular effusion, collision times and transport processes (viscosity, thermal and concentration diffusion), thermodynamics laws, energy, heat engines, entropy, equations of state, thermodynamic potentials, chemical potential, Gibbs factor and phase changes, partition function, photons and phonons, ideal and real gases, quantum and relativistic statistics. The applications of this subject are broad spanning material science, thermal energy conversion, electronics and photonics, cryogenics, vacuum technology, chemistry, biology and many more.

**Introduction to Quantum Technologies (PHYS 291)**

This course offers a broad introduction into emerging quantum technologies. The first part of the course covers past century of “the first quantum revolution”: the foundations, principles, and paradoxes of q.-(quantum) mechanics, from superposition and Schrodinger cats, to tunneling and interference of particles, uncertainty, entanglement, qubits, teleportation, etc. The second part of the course introduces “the second quantum revolution”, emerging in the last 25 years, where foundations of q.-mechanics are put to work in rapidly developing technologies. We discuss the major trends in q.-science, such as q.-information, q.-communication and cryptography, q.-computing and simulations, q.-metrology, sensing, and imaging. The state of the art and future challenges of q.-technologies will be illustrated with recent examples, such as extremely fast q.-computers, extremely precise q.-clocks, and extremely secure q.-communication lines. The course will conclude with brief discussion of our expectations for q.-technologies, public perceptions and market needs.

**Mathematical Methods of Physics (PHYS 315)**

This course aims to expose the students to the basic theory of Complex Analysis, Fourier Analysis, and Partial Differential Equations (PDEs) and train them to solve relevant physical problems. The topics of the course may include Special functions, Laplace Transforms, Green’s functions, and PDE problems. Throughout the semester, students will be asked to perform several assignments in which they are required to apply different mathematical techniques for solving common mathematical problems that appear in many areas of science and engineering.

**Classical Electrodynamics I (PHYS 361)**

This course elaborates the interaction of electrostatic and magnetostatic fields with different types of matter and formulates mathematical methods for solving problems in various geometries. The connection is drawn of the observed and analyzed effects with applications at the static regime. The electromagnetic waves are introduced in unbounded space for signal propagation.

**Optics with Laboratory (PHYS 370)**

This course offers an intermediate treatment of the behavior and properties of light, including geometrical and physical optics, elements of laser theory and applications. This is mathematically challenging course of basic optics, which assumes that the students are familiar with the Maxwell’s equations and the derivations of electromagnetic waves. The following topics will be covered: geometrical optics and optical instruments, interference and diffraction, polarization, scattering and dispersion, light coherence and elements of interaction of light with matter. The course includes 3 hours of lectures per week and several laboratory sessions.

**Research Methods (PHYS 395)**

This course is designed to introduce students to basic research methods in physics that are essential in everyday research work in modern academic, industrial, and government environments. Physics Faculty will share their experiences in theoretical, computational, observational, and experimental methods. The topics may include characteristics of good research, science ethics, science funding, research proposals, gathering and critical evaluation of scientific information, various tools and software, bibliometrics and scientometrics, writing scientific reports and white papers, publication process in peer-reviewed journals, preparing technical oral presentations, dissemination of research results, proprietary vs open science, science policies and advocacy, public outreach, and others.

**Quantum Mechanics I (PHYS 451)**

In this course, students learn the basics of non-relativistic quantum mechanics. The course introduces the concept of the wave function, its interpretation, and covers the topics of potential wells, potential barriers, quantum harmonic oscillator, and the hydrogen atom. Next, a more formal approach to quantum mechanics is taken by introducing the postulates of quantum mechanics, quantum operators, Hilbert spaces, Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and time evolution. The course ends with topics covering the addition of angular momenta, spin, emergence of energy bands in periodic systems, and some basic aspects of many-body quantum mechanics, such as the indistinguishability of identical particles and electron orbitals in atoms.

**Field Theories in Physics (PHYS462)**

This course deals with the foundations of field theories in physics, such as Newtonian gravity, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, Maxwell’s electrodynamics, scalar fields, Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity and quantum field theory. Part of the course is devoted to basic principles such as fields’ definition, Lorentz invariance and symmetries. The main part of the course then deals with the formulation of well known field theories and how the field equations are obtained from the variation of an appropriate action.

**Astrophysics & General Relativity (PHYS463)**

The course covers star formation, evolution, supernovae, special and general relativity, cosmology, black holes, and high-energy phenomena.

**Advanced Physics Laboratory (PHYS 465)**

This is an advanced laboratory course in the real research laboratory setting. Students will gain experience in setting up and conducting experiments and analyzing acquired data in various areas of physics including but not limited to condensed matter physics, nanotechnology, thermodynamics, laser optics, accelerator physics, semiconductor devices, photovoltaics.

**Introduction to Optoelectronics (PHYS 470)**

This course elaborates with advanced multidisciplinary fundamental and research topics in optoelectronics including the physics of semiconductors, devices physics and engineering, in particular, band structures of semiconductor materials; statistics of electrons and holes in intrinsic and doped semiconductors; galvanomagnetic and thermoelectric processes, charge photo-generation and recombination processes, charge transport; optical properties of semiconductors; photoresistive sensors, p-n junctions; metal-semiconductor junctions, photodiodes, phototransistors, photovoltaic devices (solar cells) and light emitting devices (LEDs).

**Introduction to Solid State Physics (PHYS 473)**

This course covers the fundamentals of solid-state physics spanning structural, binding, mechanical, vibrational, thermal, electrical, magnetic and optical properties of crystalline, defected and non-crystalline solids (metals, semiconductors and insulators). The properties and phenomena in solids are explored as a result of their interrogation by external radiation, fields and particles. Take all the fundamentals of physics, including classical and quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics and statistical physics, and put them all together to study a piece of matter. Learning fundamental theoretical concepts, problem solving and laboratory practicum will be involved to master the subject. Critical applications in material science, nanotechnology, solid-state energy transport & conversion, and innovative materials characterization techniques will also be addressed. A grasp of fundamental and advanced principles and techniques in solid-state physics is very important in much of modern applied physical sciences, high-technology as well as cutting-edge fundamental research.

**Statistical Mechanics (PHYS483)**

Statistical Mechanics provides a microscopic description of macroscopic phenomena using probability theory and statistical methods. Due to the large number of particles in a physical system (thermodynamic limit), the related probability distributions are very sharp so that macroscopic observables are sufficiently represented by averaged microscopic quantities. The applicability of the concepts of Statistical Mechanics is very broad spanning from thermodynamics and condensed matter as well as to chemistry, biology, economics, and engineering science.

This is an introductory calculus-based course covering Mechanics, Mechanical Waves and Thermodynamics. The students will learn to identify fundamental laws of mechanics and thermodynamics in everyday phenomena and to apply these laws to solve basic physics problems and to describe laboratory experiments.

This course presents an overview of introductory-level astronomy for general science and non-science majors. It will broadly cover our present understanding of the Universe. The topics covered are: (i) the methods and tools used in astronomy, (ii) a brief history of astronomy, (iii) the content of the universe from ‘small’ to ‘large’ scales, namely from the solar system, to stars, interstellar medium, galaxies and the universe as a whole.

In the course the students will learn the basic tools of modern astrophysics in one specific domain of study. The course content will focus on one or more of the following topics that are currently at the forefront of research in astrophysics: (i) energetic phenomena in the universe, such as neutron stars and black holes, (ii) the big bang and the evolution of the universe, (iii) the interstellar medium and star formation, (iv) stellar structure and evolution, from the birth of stars to supernovae, (v) the solar system: formation, structure and exploration, (vi) the search for extrasolar planets and habitable worlds.

Classical mechanics I can be considered as a first course in theoretical physics. The course deals with the formulation of the laws of mechanics describing the motion of massive bodies under the presence of external forces. This formulation is related to the mathematical structure of space and time and requires several advanced mathematical tools. The relevant mathematical background is to be introduced during the course when required. The course covers Newton’s Laws, Reference frames, Gravitation, Oscillations, Central Motion, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Dynamics. The topics learned in Classical Mechanics constitute the natural starting point for all other branches of theoretical physics including Astrophysics, Quantum Mechanics, Fluid Dynamics, Thermodynamics, Dynamical systems and Relativity.

This course offers a survey of the “modern” Physics of the 20

In this course students will acquire the basic skills for solving physics problems numerically. Possible computational tasks will involve graphing, finding roots, numerical interpolation, extrapolation, numerical differentiation and integration, numerical diagonalisation of matrices as well as numerical simulations of physical phenomena governed by differential equations.

This course covers major topics of probability, kinetic theory of gases, transport phenomena, laws of classical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics to emphasize the description of measurable macroscopic thermal properties of matter within canonical and grand canonical ensembles directly from classical laws of thermodynamics and from microscopic behavior of individual atoms, molecules or other particles analyzed in the framework of classical and quantum statistical mechanics. We will focus on probability, statistical methods, available micro-states, temperature, Boltzmann and Maxwell-Boltzmann velocity distributions, molecular effusion, collision times and transport processes (viscosity, thermal and concentration diffusion), thermodynamics laws, energy, heat engines, entropy, equations of state, thermodynamic potentials, chemical potential, Gibbs factor and phase changes, partition function, photons and phonons, ideal and real gases, quantum and relativistic statistics. The applications of this subject are broad spanning material science, thermal energy conversion, electronics and photonics, cryogenics, vacuum technology, chemistry, biology and many more.

This course offers a broad introduction into emerging quantum technologies. The first part of the course covers past century of “the first quantum revolution”: the foundations, principles, and paradoxes of q.-(quantum) mechanics, from superposition and Schrodinger cats, to tunneling and interference of particles, uncertainty, entanglement, qubits, teleportation, etc. The second part of the course introduces “the second quantum revolution”, emerging in the last 25 years, where foundations of q.-mechanics are put to work in rapidly developing technologies. We discuss the major trends in q.-science, such as q.-information, q.-communication and cryptography, q.-computing and simulations, q.-metrology, sensing, and imaging. The state of the art and future challenges of q.-technologies will be illustrated with recent examples, such as extremely fast q.-computers, extremely precise q.-clocks, and extremely secure q.-communication lines. The course will conclude with brief discussion of our expectations for q.-technologies, public perceptions and market needs.

This course aims to expose the students to the basic theory of Complex Analysis, Fourier Analysis, and Partial Differential Equations (PDEs) and train them to solve relevant physical problems. The topics of the course may include Special functions, Laplace Transforms, Green’s functions, and PDE problems. Throughout the semester, students will be asked to perform several assignments in which they are required to apply different mathematical techniques for solving common mathematical problems that appear in many areas of science and engineering.

This course elaborates the interaction of electrostatic and magnetostatic fields with different types of matter and formulates mathematical methods for solving problems in various geometries. The connection is drawn of the observed and analyzed effects with applications at the static regime. The electromagnetic waves are introduced in unbounded space for signal propagation.

This course offers an intermediate treatment of the behavior and properties of light, including geometrical and physical optics, elements of laser theory and applications. This is mathematically challenging course of basic optics, which assumes that the students are familiar with the Maxwell’s equations and the derivations of electromagnetic waves. The following topics will be covered: geometrical optics and optical instruments, interference and diffraction, polarization, scattering and dispersion, light coherence and elements of interaction of light with matter. The course includes 3 hours of lectures per week and several laboratory sessions.

This course is designed to introduce students to basic research methods in physics that are essential in everyday research work in modern academic, industrial, and government environments. Physics Faculty will share their experiences in theoretical, computational, observational, and experimental methods. The topics may include characteristics of good research, science ethics, science funding, research proposals, gathering and critical evaluation of scientific information, various tools and software, bibliometrics and scientometrics, writing scientific reports and white papers, publication process in peer-reviewed journals, preparing technical oral presentations, dissemination of research results, proprietary vs open science, science policies and advocacy, public outreach, and others.

In this course, students learn the basics of non-relativistic quantum mechanics. The course introduces the concept of the wave function, its interpretation, and covers the topics of potential wells, potential barriers, quantum harmonic oscillator, and the hydrogen atom. Next, a more formal approach to quantum mechanics is taken by introducing the postulates of quantum mechanics, quantum operators, Hilbert spaces, Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and time evolution. The course ends with topics covering the addition of angular momenta, spin, emergence of energy bands in periodic systems, and some basic aspects of many-body quantum mechanics, such as the indistinguishability of identical particles and electron orbitals in atoms.

This course deals with the foundations of field theories in physics, such as Newtonian gravity, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, Maxwell’s electrodynamics, scalar fields, Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity and quantum field theory. Part of the course is devoted to basic principles such as fields’ definition, Lorentz invariance and symmetries. The main part of the course then deals with the formulation of well known field theories and how the field equations are obtained from the variation of an appropriate action.

The course covers star formation, evolution, supernovae, special and general relativity, cosmology, black holes, and high-energy phenomena.

This is an advanced laboratory course in the real research laboratory setting. Students will gain experience in setting up and conducting experiments and analyzing acquired data in various areas of physics including but not limited to condensed matter physics, nanotechnology, thermodynamics, laser optics, accelerator physics, semiconductor devices, photovoltaics.

This course elaborates with advanced multidisciplinary fundamental and research topics in optoelectronics including the physics of semiconductors, devices physics and engineering, in particular, band structures of semiconductor materials; statistics of electrons and holes in intrinsic and doped semiconductors; galvanomagnetic and thermoelectric processes, charge photo-generation and recombination processes, charge transport; optical properties of semiconductors; photoresistive sensors, p-n junctions; metal-semiconductor junctions, photodiodes, phototransistors, photovoltaic devices (solar cells) and light emitting devices (LEDs).

This course covers the fundamentals of solid-state physics spanning structural, binding, mechanical, vibrational, thermal, electrical, magnetic and optical properties of crystalline, defected and non-crystalline solids (metals, semiconductors and insulators). The properties and phenomena in solids are explored as a result of their interrogation by external radiation, fields and particles. Take all the fundamentals of physics, including classical and quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics and statistical physics, and put them all together to study a piece of matter. Learning fundamental theoretical concepts, problem solving and laboratory practicum will be involved to master the subject. Critical applications in material science, nanotechnology, solid-state energy transport & conversion, and innovative materials characterization techniques will also be addressed. A grasp of fundamental and advanced principles and techniques in solid-state physics is very important in much of modern applied physical sciences, high-technology as well as cutting-edge fundamental research.

Statistical Mechanics provides a microscopic description of macroscopic phenomena using probability theory and statistical methods. Due to the large number of particles in a physical system (thermodynamic limit), the related probability distributions are very sharp so that macroscopic observables are sufficiently represented by averaged microscopic quantities. The applicability of the concepts of Statistical Mechanics is very broad spanning from thermodynamics and condensed matter as well as to chemistry, biology, economics, and engineering science.

Our undergraduate program is designed to immerse students in the world of cutting-edge research, providing a solid foundation for future careers, in science and in industry.

Key features:

a) Research-intensive curriculum. Our students have the opportunity to enroll in courses that span theoretical, computational, and experimental physics, that will constitute the background for their future careers

b) Hands-on experience. Our students have the opportunity to gain practical experience in state-of-the-art laboratories and research projects.

c) Diverse pathways. Our program offers the variety of pathways, from unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos through theoretical, computational or observational research, and conducting experiments on innovative nano- and meta-materials in our cutting-edge labs to theoretical and experimental investigations in nonlinear optics, lasers, accelerators, molecular physics and more.

Key features:

a) Research-intensive curriculum. Our students have the opportunity to enroll in courses that span theoretical, computational, and experimental physics, that will constitute the background for their future careers

b) Hands-on experience. Our students have the opportunity to gain practical experience in state-of-the-art laboratories and research projects.

c) Diverse pathways. Our program offers the variety of pathways, from unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos through theoretical, computational or observational research, and conducting experiments on innovative nano- and meta-materials in our cutting-edge labs to theoretical and experimental investigations in nonlinear optics, lasers, accelerators, molecular physics and more.

Equipped with a robust foundation in research-intensive physics and a diverse skill set, our graduates emerge as versatile problem solvers ready to excel in a multitude of fields. Below is a non-exhaustive list of possibilities showcasing the transferable nature of the skills developed in our program. Physics opens doors to countless career paths and opportunities:

● Research and development in natural sciences and engineering (NSE)

● Astronomy and Space Science

● Aerospace and Defense

● Geophysics and Seismology

● Climate and Meteorology

● Oil and Gas

● Water Resources management

● Hazardous waste management

● Mining

● Finance and Banking

● Telecommunications

● Big data

● Biotechnology

● High-performance computing

● Nuclear Energy

● Research and development in natural sciences and engineering (NSE)

● Astronomy and Space Science

● Aerospace and Defense

● Geophysics and Seismology

● Climate and Meteorology

● Oil and Gas

● Water Resources management

● Hazardous waste management

● Mining

● Finance and Banking

● Telecommunications

● Big data

● Biotechnology

● High-performance computing

● Nuclear Energy