Graduate Courses
For the most uptodate information on current and upcoming courses, including course times and locations, visit the universitywide schedule of classes. All graduate courses at the University of Pittsburgh qualify for credit in our program.
Looking for undergraduate courses? View them here.
33650: General Relativity 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Tiziana Di Matteo  20222023  Fall  9 units  Download 
General Relativity is the classical theory of gravity. It is widely recognized as a beautiful theory  equating gravity and the geometry of spacetime leads to a profound conceptual change in the way we regard the universe. The predictions of the theory are relevant to systems as varied as high precision measurements of the earth's gravitational field or the strongly curved spacetimes around black holes. In this course, we will gradually develop an understanding of the geometries which are the solutions of the Einstein equation, with an emphasis on their relevance to physical situations. We will motivate the theory step by step and eventually introduce the Einstein equation itself.  
Typical Textbook(s):  Gravity, An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity by James Hartle  
Prerequisites:  33211 and 33339 
33652: Introduction to String Theory 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Ira Rothstein  20172018  Fall  9 units  N/A 
The two triumphs of 20th century physics, quantum mechanics and general relativity, are monuments to the progress of science, yet they have to be synthesized into a theory of quantum gravity. A leading candidate for such a theory is "string theory", which not only accounts for gravity in a quantum mechanical setting but also unifies gravity with all the other fundamental forces. As such, it is sometimes called a "theory of everything". This course is an introduction to the theory of String Theory. A familiarity with tensors and Einstein summation as well as a basic level of understanding of quantum mechanics is expected.  
Typical Textbook(s):  A First Course in String Theory by B. Zwiebach  
Prerequisites:  33650 
33658: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information Theory 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Mike Widom  20222023  Fall  10 units  View 
This course provides an overview of recent developments in quantum computation and quantum information theory. The topics include: an introduction to quantum mechanics, quantum channels, both ideal and noisy, quantum cryptography, quantum data compression, quantum error corrections and quantum gates. The class includes code writing on publicly available quantum computers.  
Typical Textbook(s):  Quantum Processes Systems and Information by Schumacher and Westmoreland  
Prerequisites:  33234 
33659: Quantum Hall Effect and Topological Insulators 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Grigory Tarnopolskiy  20222023  Spring  12 units  Download 
This course will introduce students to the topic of topological insulators and related phenomena using the Berry phase a unifying concept. In the first half of the semester, we will cover basic concepts such as Berry phase, Dirac fermions, Hall conductance and its link to topology, and the Hofstadter problem of lattice electrons in a magnetic field. Linear response theory will be discussed in relation to the Hall conductance. In the second half, we will move on to explain topological phases of matter such as Chern insulators and two and threedimensional topological insulators. Various techniques to calculate the topological indices will be introduced and connection to real materials will be discussed. Numerical studies of various tightbinding models provide intuitive understandings and will be an essential part of this course.  
Prerequisites:  33448 
33755: Quantum Mechanics I 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Grigory Tarnopolskiy  20222023  Fall  12 units  View 
This course is the first semester of a twosemester Quantum Mechanics sequence for graduate students. It introduces fundamental concepts of quantum mechanics as well as time evolution and quantum dynamics. Topics covered include wave mechanics and matrix mechanics, addition of angular momentum plus applications, bound states, harmonic oscillator, hydrogen atom, etc.  
Typical Textbook(s):  Quantum Mechanics, Vol. I by CohenTannoudji 
33756: Quantum Mechanics II 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Rachel Rosen  20222023  Spring  12 units  Download 
This course is the second semester of a twosemester Quantum Mechanics sequence for graduate students. It focuses on qualitative methods and approximations in quantum mechanics, including timeindependent and timedependent perturbation theory, scattering and semiclassical methods as well as harmonic oscillator and quantized fields. Applications are made to atomic, molecular and solid matter. Systems of identical particles are treated including many electron atoms or entangled states.  
Typical Textbook(s):  Quantum Mechanics, Vol. II by CohenTannoudji  
Prerequisites:  33755 and 33759 
33758: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information Theory 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Robert Griffiths  20132014  Spring  12 units  Download 
This course, taught in collaboration with the Computer Science Department, provides an overview of recent developments in quantum computation and quantum information theory. The topics include: an introduction to quantum mechanics, quantum channels, both ideal and noisy, quantum cryptography, an introduction to computational complexity, Shor's factorization algorithm, Grover's search algorithm, and proposals for the physical realization of quantum devices, such as correlated photons, ions in traps, and nuclear magnetic resonance. 3 hrs. lecture plus weekly seminar. A 10unit version of the course, 33658, does not include the seminar. 

Typical Textbook(s):  Quantum Computation and Quantum Information by Nielsen and Chuang 
33759: Introduction to Mathematical Physics I 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Tina Kahniashvili  20222023  Fall  12 units  Download 
This course is an introduction to methods of mathematical analysis used in solving physical problems. Emphasis is placed both upon the generality of the methods, through a variety of sample problems, and upon their underlying principles. Topics normally covered include matrix algebra (normal modes, diagonalization, symmetry properties), complex variables and analytic functions, differential equations (Laplace's equation and separation of variables, special functions and their analytic properties), orthogonal systems of functions. 3 hrs. lecture and recitation.  
Typical Textbook(s):  Mathematical Methods for Physicists by G. Arfken 
33761: Classical Electrodynamics I 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Ira Rothstein  20222023  Fall  12 units  Download 
This course deals with the static and dynamic properties of the electromagnetic field as described by Maxwell's equations. Among the topics emphasized are solutions of Laplace's, Poisson's and wave equations, effects of boundaries, Green's functions, multipole expansions, emission and propagation of electromagnetic radiation and the response of dielectrics, metals, magnetizable bodies to fields. 3 hrs. lecture.  
Typical Textbook(s):  Classical Electrodynamics by J.D. Jackson  
Prerequisites:  33339 
33762: Classical Electrodynamics II 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Riccardo Penco  20182019  Spring  12 units  Download 
The applications of electromagnetic theory to various physical systems is the main emphasis of this course. The topics discussed include the theory of wave guides, scattering of electromagnetic waves, index of refraction, special relativity and foundation of optics. 3 hrs. lecture.  
Typical Textbook(s):  Classical Electrodynamics by J.D. Jackson 
33765: Statistical Mechanics 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Mike Widom  20222023  Spring  12 units  Download 
This course develops the methods of statistical mechanics and uses them to calculate observable properties of systems in thermodynamic equilibrium. Topics treated include the principles of classical thermodynamics, canonical and grand canonical ensembles for classical and quantum mechanical systems, partition functions and statistical thermodynamics, fluctuations, ideal gases of quanta, atoms and polyatomic molecules, degeneracy of Fermi and Bose gases, chemical equilibrium, ideal paramagnetics and introduction to simple interacting systems.  
Typical Textbook(s):  An Introduction to Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics by Swendsen Statistical Physics of Particles by Kardar Statistical Mechanics by McQuarrie 
33767: Biophysics: From Basic Concepts to Current Research 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Fangwei Si  20222023  Spring  12 units  Download 
This course mixes lectures and student presentations on advanced topics in Biological Physics. In the course, students will gain a deep appreciation of the fact that very basic physical and chemical principles underlie many central life processes. Life is not only compatible with the laws of physics and chemistry, rather, it exploits them in ingenious ways. After taking the course, students should be able to name examples of such situations for which they can provide a coherent line of reasoning that outlines these connections. They will be able to explain key experiments by which these connections either have been found or are nowadays routinely established, and outline simple backoftheenvelope estimates by which one can convince oneself of either the validity or inapplicability of certain popular models and ideas. They should also have become sufficiently familiar with the key terminology frequently encountered in biology, such that they can start to further educate themselves by consulting biological and biophysical literature.  
Typical Textbook(s):  Physics Biology of the Cell by Rob Phillips et al. 
33769: Quantum Mechanics III: Many Body and Relativistic Systems 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Ira Rothstein  20212022  Fall  12 units  N/A 
The first main theme of this course is quantum mechanics applied to selected manybody problems in atomic, nuclear and condensed matter physics. The second main theme is relativistic quantum mechanics. Creation and annihilation operators are introduced and used to discuss HartreeFock theory as well as electromagnetic radiation. The Dirac equation is introduced and applied to the hydrogen atom.  
Prerequisites:  33756 and 33761 
33770: Field Theory I 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Riccardo Penco  20222023  Fall  12 units  Download 
This is a first course in relativistic quantum field theory. Topics include canonical and path integrals, quantization of fields, the KleinGordon and Dirac equation, as well as photon fields, Feynman diagram techniques, calculation of scattering cross section, methods of renormalization, and quantum electrodynamics.  
Prerequisites:  33769 
33771: Field Theory II 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Ira Rothstein  20222023  Spring  12 units  Download 
Modern techniques and recent developments in relativistic field theory are discussed. The topics include theory of renormalization, renormalization group equation, quantization of nonAbelian gauge theories, quantum chromodynamics (QCD), gauge theories of weak and electromagnetic interactions, and grand unification theory (GUT).  
Typical Textbook(s):  An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory by M. Peskin and D. Schroeder 
33775 & 33776: Introduction to Research I and II 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Markus Deserno  20222023  Spring  12 units  
Fall and Spring Semester  12 units. 
33777: Introductory Astrophysics 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Rachel Mandelbaum  20222023  Spring  12 units  Download 
Introductory Astrophysics will explore the applications of physics to the following areas: (i) celestial mechanics and dynamics, (ii) the physics of solar system objects, (iii) the structure, formation and evolution of stars and galaxies, (iv) the large scale structure of the universe of galaxies, (v) cosmology: the origin, evolution and fate of the universe. 
33778: Introduction to Cosmology 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Scott Dodelson  20222023  Fall  12 units  Download 
An introduction to modern cosmology that includes detailed description of the smooth expanding universe (e.g., nucleosynthesis, the cosmic microwave background, and dark matter) and the perturbations that translate into the large scale structure of the universe.  
Prerequisites:  33232 and 33234 
33779: Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Hael Collins  20212022  Spring  12 units  Download 
An introduction to the physics of atomic nuclei and elementary particles. This course is suitable as a onesemester course for students not specializing in this area and also provides an introduction to further work in 33780, 33781. Topics included are symmetry principles of strong and weak interactions, quark model, classification of particles and nuclear forces.  
Typical Textbook(s):  Introduction to High Energy Physics by Perkins  
Prerequisites:  33769 (or concurrently) 
33780: Nuclear and Particle Physics II 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Ira Rothstein  20162017  Spring  12 units  N/A 
This course covers the phenomenology of weak interactions, parton model for the deep inelastic scattering, and introduction to gauge theories of weak and electromagnetic interactions. Various topics of current interest in particle physics will also be included.  
Prerequisites:  33779 and 33770 (or concurrently) 
33783: Solid State Physics 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Sara Majetich  20222023  Spring  12 units  Download 
This course is designed to give advanced graduate students a fundamental knowledge of the microscopic properties of solids in terms of molecular and atomic theory, crystal structures, xray diffraction of crystals and crystal defects, lattice vibration and thermal properties of crystals; freeelectron model, energy bands, electrical conduction and magnetism.  
Typical Textbook(s):  Solid State Physics by Ashcroft and Mermin  
Prerequisites:  33756 
33785: Special Topics in Condensed Matter 

Professor  Academic Year  Course Semester  Sample Syllabus 
Mike Widom  20212022  Spring  6 units  View 
This course is based on a series of talks by visiting speakers in theoretical and experimental Condensed Matter Physics that will bring candidates to campus to deliver talks on topics of current research. The instructor will give introductory previews of the topics to prepare students to better understand the subjects. Students will attend the talks and write short reflections about the content and presentation of the talks.


Prerequisites:  33448 or 33783 or permission of the instructor 
33795: Graduate Seminar in Quantum Computation and Information 

Fall and Spring Semester  2 units 
33796: Graduate Seminar in Nuclear Physics 

Fall and Spring Semester  3 units 
33797: Graduate Seminar in High Energy Physics 

Fall and Spring Semester  3 units 
33798: Graduate Seminar in Condensed Matter Physics 

Fall and Spring Semester  3 units 
338xx: Supervised Reading in Various Areas 

Fall and Spring Semester  Various units 
33996: Practicum in Physics 

Fall and Spring Semester  Various units 
33997: Graduate Laboratory 

Fall and Spring Semester  Various units 
33998: Thesis Research 

Fall and Spring Semester  Various units 