Waves & Optics

  • Course StartArchived & Available
  • Course Duration11 weeks
  • Workload10 hours per week
  • Tuition$50

Discover more about oscillators, waves on strings, and electromagnetic waves.

Course Description

PHYS201x follows introductory physics courses with a more detailed treatment of oscillators, waves on strings, and electromagnetic waves. In addition to deriving and solving the wave equation, mathematical methods will be introduced on making approximations, describing oscillations with complex numbers, and synthesizing functions with Fourier series. Optical reflection and refraction will be derived, as well as the lens equation and elements of geometrical optics. Optical interference, diffraction, and polarization will be covered in detail, including the role of diffraction in image formation.

PHYS201x will have weekly video lectures that explain the material through detailed derivations and demonstrations. There will be weekly homework, a discussion forum, and two exams. Eight weeks of content will be presented, and one week devoted to each self-paced exam.

PHYS201x is targeted to an audience with a wide range of backgrounds and abilities from motivated high school students to people returning to their studies after a break.

Course Trailer


The prerequisites for this course are calculus and introductory physics. Students should be comfortable with basic integration and differentiation, while other mathematical methods will be described in detail.

Lecture Samples


Any questions? Please e-mail RiceOnline.rice.edu

Professor Information

Picture of Dr. Jason Hafner

Dr. Jason Hafner

Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Chemistry Rice University Jason Hafner earned his PhD from Rice University in 1998 under Richard Smalley for work on carbon nanotubes, and pursued postdoctoral studies at Harvard University with Charles Lieber. Dr. Hafner is currently a Professor of Physics and Astronomy and of Chemistry at Rice, as well as an […]

Full Bio