"Physics, as a fundamental science, underpins all areas of scientific research. An understanding of the physical principles of a system is the key to the advancement of knowledge. A major in physics can lead directly into participation in research at the forefront of fields as diverse as Astronomy and Astrophysics, Quantum Science, Condensed Matter Physics or Biophysics” - Dr Tim McIntyre, Major Convenor.

PHYSICS

Physics is one of the fundamental sciences and involves solving the some of the biggest questions that have always intrigued humankind, such as “where did we come from?" and "where are we headed?”

Physics embraces the study of the most basic natural laws and is about explaining how and why things work on scales ranging from the sub-nuclear, through the everyday, and on to the entire cosmos. Physicists explore and identify basic principles governing the structure and behaviour of matter, the generation and transfer of energy, and the interaction of matter and energy. Some physicists use these principles in theoretical or experimental studies on topics such as the nature of time and the origin of the Universe; others apply their physics knowledge to practical areas, developing advanced materials, electronic and optical devices, and equipment for a wide range of fields such as medicine, mining, astronomy and geophysics. 

Physics is also at the heart of new interdisciplinary areas such as information technology, nanotechnology, quantum technology, and biophotonics. In newly developing areas in the biosciences, an understanding of basic physical principles is one of the keys to advancing knowledge.

Physics at UQ has recognised research strengths in a range of areas. As part of the Physics Major you can expect to take part in research-based theory and/or experimental projects using state-of-the-art equipment. Students progressing to honours in physics complete original research projects, often leading to publications in international peer-reviewed journals.

 On completing a degree in Physics at the University of Queensland, students can be expected to have the following range of attributes developed in consultation with the Australian Institute of Physics.

Students will be able to
 
1.   Demonstrate a knowledge of fundamental physics concepts and principles;
 
2.   Evaluate the role of theoretical models and empirical studies in the past and current development of physics knowledge;
 
3.   Apply physics principles to understand the causes of problems, devise strategies to solve them and test the possible solutions;
 
4.   Use a range of measurement and data analysis tools to collect data with appropriate precision and carry out subsequent analysis with due regard to the uncertainties;
 
5.   Use the tools, methodologies, language and conventions of physics to test and communicate ideas and explanations;
 
6.   Work effectively and ethically in a multi-faceted scientific environment; and
 
7.   Be responsible, critically reflective, self-directed and motivated learners.


This major is administered by the School of Mathematics and Physics.

For further information please contact the Science Faculty.

What will I study?

In this major, you will develop a broad knowledge of classical and modern physics. Courses in physics include: astronomy, biophysics, electromagnetism, laser physics, mathematical physics, mechanics, optics, quantum physics, and thermodynamics.

In later years you can specialise in your particular area of interest. Electives under the general stream will prepare you for most areas of physics including quantum information and quantum optics, condensed matter physics, biophotonics and laser science. More specialist plans exist for studying astronomy and astrophysics and mathematical physics.

Assessment tasks vary across different courses but include poster presentations, assignments, laboratory reports and exams.

As well as content knowledge in this area you will be given the opportunity to develop a range of other skills such as problem-solving capabilities, laboratory skills and computing abilities that will equip you to pursue a career in this area.

You can also include physics as part of your dual major in Computational Science or Biophysics.

Study Plans

Physics is available as a Single Major or as an Extended Major. For the Single Major, you are required to complete #14 (#6 at Level 2 and #8 at Level 3) and for the Extended Major you are required to complete #22 (#10 at Level 2 and #12 at Level 3) from the Physics course list. The following are suggested study plans for this major and should be used as a guide to planning your program.

Please refer to the course list below to ensure you complete the major requirements.

How do I use the Study Plans?

  1. Choose a study plan.
  2. Take all Compulsory Courses in each semester.
  3. Select required number of units in Key Courses for each year level. 
  4. Ensure you take at least #12 of level 3 (or 4) courses from the BSc list.
  5. Fill any gaps in each semester with Keyor Recommended Courses or electives from BSc or other programs.
    (Standard full-time semester load #8.)
  6. Ensure you meet the BSc requirements and rules.

What do the different columns mean?

  • Compulsory courses – compulsory for the major.
  • Key courses – electives from the major's course list.
  • Recommended courses – complement the major. 

Choose a study plan

Physics (Single Major) - General Studies

You can find details about the first year of the program here.

Year 2 Compulsory Courses
Complete all courses
Key Courses Recommended Courses
 
Sem 1
PHYS2020 Thermodyn & Condensed Matter
PHYS2055 Intro to Fields in Physics
 –
MATH2001 Advanced Calculus and Linear Algebra
PHYS2810 Electronics & Circuit Theory
 
 
Suggested elective:
Sem 2 PHYS2041 Quantum Physics  –
MATH2100 Applied Mathematical Analysis
PHYS2100 Dynamics, Chaos & Special Rela
 
 
Suggested electives:
PHYS2082 Space Sc & Stellar Astrophysic
BIPH2000 Foundations of Biophysics
PHIL2011 Phil of Modern Physics
COSC2500 Num Meth in Computational Sci

Year 3 Compulsory Courses
Complete all courses
Key Courses
Choose at least #6 from:
Recommended Courses
 
Sem 1
 –
PHYS3040 Quantum Physics1
PHYS3051 Fields in Physics1
PHYS3071 Computational Physics
 
COSC3000 Visualization & Graphics
Sem 2
PHYS3900 Perspectives in Physics

PHYS3020 Statistical Mechanics1
PHYS4070 Advanced Computational Physics2
PHYS3080 Extragalatic Astrophys & Cosm
PHYS3825 Experimental Design

 
COSC3500 High-Performance Computing

 1. Students must choose at least #4 from PHYS3040, PHYS3051 and/or PHYS3020 to complete the requirements for the Physics major.

  2. Students need permission from the Head of School to enrol in this course.  It is offered in even years only.

Physics (Single Major) - Astronomy / Astrophysics

You can find details about the first year of the program here.

Year 2 Compulsory Courses
Complete all courses
Key Courses Recommended Courses
 
Sem 1
PHYS2020 Thermodyn & Condensed Matter
PHYS2055 Intro to Fields in Physics
 –
MATH2001Advanced Calculus and Linear Algebra
 
 
Suggested elective:
PHYS2810 Electronics & Circuit Theory
Sem 2
PHYS2041 Quantum Physics
 –
PHYS2100 Dynamics, Chaos & Special Rela
MATH2100 Applied Mathematical Analysis
PHYS2082 Space Sc & Stellar Astrophysic

Year 3 Compulsory Courses
Complete all courses
Key Courses
Choose at least #6 from:
Recommended Courses
 
Sem 1  –
PHYS3040 Quantum Physics1
PHYS3051 Fields in Physics1
PHYS3071 Computational Physics
 
Sem 2
PHYS3900 Perspectives in Physics

PHYS3020 Statistical Mechanics1
PHYS3080 Extragalatic Astrophys & Cosm

Suggested electives:
PHYS3825 Experimental Design
PHYS4070 Advanced Computational Physics2

   1. Students must choose at least #4 from PHYS3040, PHYS3051 and/or PHYS3020 to complete the requirements for the Physics major.

    2. Students need permission from the Head of School to enrol in this course.  It is offered in even years only.

Physics (Single Major) - Mathematical Physics

You can find details about the first year of the program here.

Year 2 Compulsory Courses
Complete all courses
Key Courses Recommended Courses
 
Sem 1
PHYS2020 Thermodyn & Condensed Matter
PHYS2055 Intro to Fields in Physics
 –
MATH2001 Advanced Calculus and Linear Algebra
 
 
Suggested electives:
PHYS2810 Electronics & Circuit Theory
MATH2400 Mathematical Analysis
Sem 2
PHYS2041 Quantum Physics
 –
MATH2100 Applied Mathematical Analysis
 
 
Suggested electives:
PHYS2100 Dynamics, Chaos & Special Rela
PHYS2082 Space Sc & Stellar Astrophysic
PHIL2011 Phil of Modern Physics

Year 3 Compulsory Courses
Complete all courses
Key Courses
Choose at least #6 from:
Recommended Courses
 
Sem 1  –
PHYS3040 Quantum Physics1
PHYS3051 Fields in Physics1
MATH3401 Complex Analysis
 
Suggested electives:
PHYS3071 Computational Physics
MATH3101 Bifurcation and Chaos
MATH3201 Advanced Scientific Computing
MATH3302 Coding & Cryptography
MATH3303 Abstr Algebra & Number Th
Sem 2
PHYS3900 Perspectives in Physics
PHYS3020 Statistical Mechanics1
Plus #2 of 3rd or 4th year Physics course from the Physics course list.
MATH3403 Partial Differential Equations
 
Suggested electives
PHYS3080 Extragalatic Astrophys & Cosm
PHYS3825 Experimental Design
PHYS4070 Advanced Computational Physics2
MATH3102 Applied Mathematics
MATH3103 Algebraic Meth of Math Physics

   1. Students must choose at least #4 from PHYS3040, PHYS3051 and/or PHYS3020 to complete the requirements for the Physics major.

    2. Students need permission from the Head of School to enrol in this course.  It is offered in even years only.

Physics (Extended Major) - General Studies

You can find details about the first year of the program here.

Year 2 Compulsory Courses
Complete all courses
Key Courses
Choose at least #4 from:
Recommended Courses
 
Sem 1
PHYS2020 Thermodyn & Condensed Matter
PHYS2055 Intro to Fields in Physics
PHYS2810 Electronics & Circuit Theory
MATH2001 Advanced Calculus and Linear Algebra
Sem 2
PHYS2041 Quantum Physics
PHYS2100 Dynamics, Chaos & Special Rela
PHYS2082 Space Sc & Stellar Astrophysic
BIPH2000 Foundations of Biophysics
MATH2100 Applied Mathematical Analysis
 
 
Suggested electives:
COSC2500 Num Meth in Computational Sci
PHIL2011 Phil of Modern Physics

Year 3 Compulsory Courses
Complete all courses
Key Courses
 #10 for:
Recommended Courses
 
Sem 1  –
PHYS3040 Quantum Physics1
PHYS3051 Fields in Physics1
PHYS3071 Computational Physics
 –
Sem 2  

PHYS3900 Perspectives in Physics

PHYS3020 Statistical Mechanics1
PHYS3080 Extragalatic Astrophy & Cosm
PHYS3825 Experimental Design
PHYS4070 Advanced Computational Physics2
 –

   1. Students must choose at least #4 from PHYS3040, PHYS3051 and/or PHYS3020 to complete the requirements for the Physics major.

    2. Students need permission from the Head of School to enrol in this course.  It is offered in even years only.

 

Major Convenor

Dr Tim McIntyre 

Specific Research Area – Experimental Laser Science

What I do

I am an experimental physicist with interests in developing and applying laser-based imaging techniques. I am part of the Centre for Hypersonics, which has given me extensive experience in measurement techniques for high speed, high temperature gas flows. These include interferometric, spectroscopic and fluorescence approaches. I am also part of the Centre for Biophotonics and Laser Science with a developing interest in non-linear optical techniques for biological imaging.

What I teach

I lecture in physics, teaching classes such as optics and the first year course on the physical basis of biological systems. I co-ordinate a number of laboratory classes including second year optics and modern physics as well as a first year laboratory. I am interested in developing computer simulations for use in undergraduate teaching.

Careers

Physics graduates develop robust, high-level analytical and problem-solving skills that are widely applicable and highly valued by a diverse range of employers including those in education, finance, engineering, computing and management.

Physicists engage in a wide range of exciting and rewarding careers across many industries in both the public and private sectors. Many physicists are employed by governments in research and management positions; by universities in the areas of teaching, research and technical positions; as education and science communicators; in health and medical sectors; and in nuclear physics. Other physicists take a higher degree and work in research and development; undertaking fundamental research to increase scientific knowledge, or applied research to develop new devices, products or processes.