skip to content

Physics Course Catalog Numbering System

There are four series of beginning courses. One course from the teen series (15, 16, 17, 19) is recommended for the humanities or social science student who wishes to become familiar with the methodology and content of modern physics. The 20 series (21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26) is recommended for general students and for students preparing for medicine or biology. The 40 series (41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46) is for students of engineering, chemistry, earth sciences, mathematics, or physics. The advanced freshman series (61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 67) is for students who have had strong preparation in physics and calculus in high school. Students who have had appropriate background and wish to major in physics should take this introductory series.

The 20, 40, and 60 series consist of demonstration lectures on the fundamental principles of physics, problem work on application of these principles to actual cases, and lab experiments correlated with the lectures. Their objectives are not only to give information on particular subjects, but also to provide training in the use of the scientific method. The primary difference between the series of courses is that topics are discussed more thoroughly and treated with greater mathematical rigor in the 40 and 60 series.

Courses beyond 99 are numbered in accordance with a three-digit code. The first digit indicates the approximate level of the course:


undergraduate courses


first-year graduate courses


more advanced courses


research, special, or current topics

The second digit indicates the general subject matter:




general courses


nuclear physics, nuclear energy, energy


elementary particle physics


astrophysics, cosmology, gravitation


condensed matter physics


optics and atomic physics


miscellaneous courses

Copyright ©2011 Stanford University | Office of the University Registrar | Academic Year 2011-12 | Terms of Use | Copyright Complaints | Report a Problem with this site.