physics undergrads

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 mechanical laws governing 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 behind the behaviour of atoms and sub-atomic particles; and 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. Applied physicists were responsible for the invention of semiconductor electronics, lasers, high-capacity hard disks, light-emitting quantum dots used in next-generation display screens, and other important technologies.

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 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 state-of-the-art tools such as laser optics, microfluidic devices, and nanofabrication equipment. Physics and Applied Physics graduates can find employment 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 (Honours) in Physics
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Physics

Students in both programmes 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. Physics students go on to take courses from a choice of statistical mechanics, computational physics, advanced quantum mechanics, particle physics, and more. In the Applied Physics programme, students take additional courses such as spintronics, nanotechnology, plasmonics, metamaterials, and laser physics. All 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.

These 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.

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.