physics undergrads

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

Applied Physics is a discipline specializing in the technological applications of the latest discoveries in physics. It lies at the frontier of technology development, where new devices are developed and tested. The work of applied physicists has led to the invention of important technologies such as semiconductor electronics, lasers, high-capacity hard disks, light-emitting quantum dots used in next-generation display screens, and more.

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.

During their studies, Physics and Applied Physics students acquire quantitative skills applicable to a broad range of endeavours. These include scientific computer programming, the formulation and testing of quantitative models, data analysis, and the use of state-of-the-art tools such as laser optics, microfluidic devices, and nanofabrication equipment. Our Physics and Applied Physics graduates have found a wide variety of rewarding jobs, including research and development (R&D) in industry or academia, software development, education, and other professional positions.

BSc (Hons) Programmes

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

  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Physics
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Physics

Students in both programmes learn about the basic fields of physics: mechanics, relativity, optics, electromagnetism, thermal physics, quantum mechanics, and condensed-matter physics, as well as computer programming and mathematical methods. Physics students then choose advanced courses that may include statistical mechanics, computational physics, advanced quantum mechanics, and particle physics. Applied Physics students choose advaanced courses such as spintronics, nanotechnology, plasmonics, metamaterials, and laser physics. All students also take General Education Elective courses 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.

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

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 or Applied Physics

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