Physics and Applied Physics for Undergraduates

Physics is the science of the physical world at its most fundamental and general levels. Physics students learn about a wide variety of topics, including the laws of mechanics that govern the motion of objects; the laws of electromagnetism that give rise to electricity, magnetism, and light; the origins of heat and temperature; the fundamental quantum principles that govern the behaviour of atoms and sub-atomic particles; and much more.

Applied Physics is a discipline that specializes in finding technological applications for the latest discoveries in physics.  It lies at the frontier of technology development, where completely new types of devices are being developed and evaluated. The work of applied physicists has given rise to inventions such as semiconductor electronics, lasers, high-capacity hard disks based on giant magnetoresistance, light-emitting quantum dots used in next-generation display screens, and other important components of modern technology.

A resonant 'plasmonic' wave surrounding a metal block.
Understanding and controlling light.
The wavefunction of an electron in a nano-scale 'quantum dot'.
Quantum Mechanics
Accessing the building blocks of reality.
Computer simulation of a magnet composed of a complex lattice of elementary magnetic dipoles.
Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics
The science of heat, disorder, and complexity.

Aside from learning about the laws of Nature and their technological applications, Physics and Applied Physics students acquire quantitative skills applicable to a broad range of endeavours. These skills include scientific computer programming, the formulation and testing of quantitative models, data analysis, and the use of cutting-edge technological tools such as laser optics, microfluidic devices, and nanofabrication equipment.  Physics and Applied Physics graduates are employed in a wide range of occupations, including research and development (R&D) in academia and industry, education, software development, and other professional positions.

BSc (Hons) Programmes

The Division of Physics and Applied Physics offers the following four-year degree programmes:

  • Bachelor of Science (BSc) (Hons) in Physics

  • Bachelor of Science (BSc) (Hons)  in Applied Physics

Students in both the Physics programme and the Applied Physics programme learn about the basic fields of physics: classical mechanics, relativity, optics, electromagnetism, thermal physics, quantum mechanics, and condensed-matter physics, as well as introductory courses in programming and mathematical methods. In the Physics programme, students also take courses from a choice of statistical mechanics, computational physics, advanced quantum mechanics, particle physics, and others. In the Applied Physics programme, students take additional courses including spintronics, nanotechnology fabrication, plasmonics, metamaterials, and laser physics. Students are also required to take courses from the university's selection of General Education Electives, in order to receive a well-rounded university education.

In the fourth year of study, students either undertake a Final Year Project, conducting research under the personal supervision of a faculty member, or perform an internship in a university-approved company or institution.

Both BSc programmes are “direct honours” programmes, with no separate GPA requirement for proceeding to the fourth year of the programme. Departmental honours are awarded after the fourth year, based on GPA and other performance criteria.

Click here for more information about the BSc (Hons) curriculum.

BSc (Hons) in Physics with Second Major in Mathematical Sciences (PHMA)

In this selective Second Major programme, in addition to the BSc Physics curriculum, students earn a second major in Mathematical Sciences  by taking advanced mathematics courses such as analysis, group theory, discrete mathematics, and differential geometry.

Minor in Physics and Applied Physics

With this minor, students from other programmes can take courses in quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, and other topics.

Click here for more information about minoring in Physics and Applied Physics.