Senior Capstones

The Colorado College Physics Department requires all majors to take PC 450 Senior Capstone Experience.  As part of this course, all majors will write a paper and give a seminar to the department on a 300-400 level physics topic that is new to them.  This serves several purposes:

  • It provides the opportunity to conduct independent research under the advisory of a physics professor.
  • It provides you with the valuable experience of conveying ideas to a group of your peers.
  • It provides our community with an informative lecture and an introduction to new physics concepts in a social environment.
  • It is a test of your physics knowledge.
  • It familiarizes the faculty and other students with the seminar presenter.
  • It enhances the CC physics community.


Each major is required to write a paper and give a talk during his or her senior year. 3-2 Engineering students are required to do this during their junior year. Papers and seminars topics are chosen by the student in collaboration with faculty.  The paper is about 3000 words.  The seminar should be about 30 minutes followed by questions.  Both are at a level that can be understood by students with an introductory physics background (PC241, PC242, and PC251). Although students are encouraged to pick topics beyond the scope of these three courses, the paper and talks must begin at a level that can be understood by good students that have taken only these three courses.

  • In the spring of junior year, you will attend a meeting during which you will brainstorm topics and be assigned your faculty advisor.
  • In Block 1, you will finalize your topic and begin to write and review your paper.  You will also practice giving talks.  Your seminar date will be scheduled.
  • Papers are written during the fall semester and completed shortly after the new year.  
  • Talks are given throughout the spring semester.  Students will give practice talks to their faculty advisor about two weeks before their talk.  
  • Grades for PC 450 are assigned when everyone has finished giving their talks.

If a student intends on graduating early, they should discuss this with the department before the beginning of his or her junior year. In order to meet all of the major requirements, the student may have to complete the senior seminar evaluations throughout their junior year.

Rescheduling Policy

For PC 450, senior seminars are scheduled at the conclusion of the course. The penalty for rescheduling a seminar after that time is 1/3 of a letter grade (for example a B becomes a B-) except under extraordinary circumstances as approved by the physics faculty.


Physics majors of every level are expected to attend the seminars. Friends outside of the department are always welcome.

Report an issue - Last updated: 02/10/2022