Information on Physics Labs

General Information:

Physics lab courses at Yale are NOT linked to the lecture courses. They operate as wholly separate, graded 1/2 credit classes. While these labs will expose you to some basic concepts of physics, their primary objective is to give you experience and expertise in laboratory tools and techniques. This includes quantitative measurement strategies, data analysis using computational tools (computers, software), andexperimental design. You will also learn how to safely operate measurement tools such as multimeters, oscilloscopes, power supplies and function generators, just to name a few.
There are two separate physics lab tracks at Yale that are briefly described below. You should choose the one that best meets your goals, requirements, and interests. If after reading this and the Canvas course pages (which have much more information) about which lab you should take, we recommend consulting your advisor or the DUS of physics. Physics lab courses do not need to be taken concurrently with any lecture class, though many students opt for this approach, with many also enrolling in lab after  completing their physics lecture course.

Physics 165La and Physics 166Lb - General Physics Lab I and II

This is our two semester Fall/Spring physics lab sequence primarily for life sciences majors. If you are or have taken Physics 170/171 or Physics 180/181 and are majoring in a life science, you may prefer this course (though you can take Physics 205/206 instead). Physics 165 revolves around a weekly physics lab experiment covering a concept from the first semester of an introductory physics course, while Physics 166 focuses on topics from the second semester. Some lab topics may be covered in lecture, but there is no coordination between the lab content and the content of the particular lecture class you may be taking. Students are assessed on the quality of their laboratory participation and preparation, their laboratory notebooks, and a midterm and final practical exam.

Physics 205L and Physics 206L - Modern Physics Lab I and II

This is our two semester sequence (both courses run Fall AND Spring, every year) primarily but not exclusively for engineering and physical science majors. If you are, or have taken Physics 180/181, 200/201 or 260/261 you may prefer (and we recommend) this course, though you can take it even if enrolled in Physics 170/171. In Physics 205, you will perform a variety of experiments designed to train you in experimental design, data collection, analysis (with Python), and display, and the use of modern research grade measurement tools. Our objective is to give you the ability to work successfully in a research laboratory and to be prepared for our advanced laboratory course: Physics 382. Physics 205 revolves around 12 weekly experiments. You are assessed on engagement, homework, preparation, and lab notebooks. There is no practical exam. In Physics 206 you have more autonomy. With your partner, you will choose a set of 9 different experiments from a suite of 23 possible to complete over the course of the semester. You are assessed strictly on your data analysis and lab reports.