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Senior Seminar

Some departments require Bachelor's theses or comprehensive exams; the Colorado College Physics Department requires a senior seminar in conjunction with the seminar course. 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 the entire science 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 contact in the Colorado College physics community.


Each major is required to give a talk during his or her senior year. 3-2 Engineering students are required to give a talk during their junior year. A seminar should be about 45 minutes including questions. It should be on a subject of your choice at a level that can be understood by students with an introductory physics background (PC241, PC242, and PC251). Although speakers are encouraged to pick topics beyond the scope of these three course, the talks must begin at a level that can be understood by good students that have taken only these three courses.

  • The student must sign up for a presentation time during the first two weeks of the semester.
  • The student must find a professor to be associated with the talk topic that he/she wants to present. The associated professor will be available to advise and possibly help the student prepare, but the content and presentation of the seminar will remain the responsibility of the student.
  • With the associated professor's approval, the student will present the idea at a department meeting. This must take place at least 2 weeks before the proposed presentation date; however, a month or more is advisable. Department meetings are only the first and third Wednesdays of each block at noon in Barnes 213.
  • The associated professor will sign the seminar schedule once the presentation is considered ready. Afterwards, Kate can post announcements for the talk. The associated professor may, for instance, desire to see the talk presented before giving approval.
  • At least two professors in attendance will evaluate the talk and must agree that the talk was adequate. If the talk was not adequate, the talk will be revised or another will be attempted, as determined by the faculty and the student.
  • Within one week of the seminar the student will make a poster summarizing his/her talk. Kate has templates that should be used for this purpose. The student will email the poster to Kate as a powerpoint or pdf document for printing and display in the department.

There are two crucial points of emphasis here. The first being that it is entirely the responsibility of the student to ensure the timely completion of the steps above. Second, adequate presentation of these seminars is necessary for a physics degree from Colorado College.

If a student intends on graduating early, he or she should discuss this with the department at 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 his or her 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.

Last updated: 12/17/2020