PHYS 1400: Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry

What is the course?

PHYS 1400: Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry is a one-credit, elective course offered each fall. The course is designed for students who are interested in exploring physics and engaging in self-guided physics research in a supportive learning environment. All students are welcome to apply to take PHYS 1400, but preference is given to first-year and transfer STEM students from underrepresented populations in the physics community, e.g. women, minorities, and first-generation college students.

How is it structured?

The first half of the course prepares students to participate in research by introducing them to the conceptual components of quantitative research such as model development and creative problem-solving. In addition, students engage in group and individual activities in which they discuss vital skills such as organization, collaboration, self-reflection, and metacognition.


The second half of the course consists of group research projects. Under the supervision of graduate student advisors, groups of two to three students choose their topics and design experiments to explore exciting physical phenomena. The research projects culminate in a poster presentation where students present their research to other undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors.


Throughout the semester, students attend CU-Prime Talks every two weeks. These talks are given by undergraduate and graduate students in the physics department that are actively involved in the cutting-edge research at CU-Boulder by explaining their research in an accessible way.


By taking this course, you will:


For the course schedule and more details, please see the syllabus for Fall 2023 here.

How do I register?

To register for the course, fill out the form below. This form is a way for us to get to know you a bit before the semester starts. We will make every effort to include as many students as we can in PHYS 1400! In Fall 2023, the course meets in-person Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00–6:15pm MT. Please avoid schedule conflicts with this time slot as you register for your other classes. If you have questions about a schedule conflict email the instructors at We will send out email notifications in August to confirm admission. Upon your acceptance, you will be automatically enrolled. Please do not attempt to register for this course through Buff Portal, as this is not possible.