Physics deals with the fundamental phenomena of nature: space, time, matter and energy. It underpins all science and technology. Physics enables us to develop an understanding of everything from the nucleus of an atom to the structure and origin of the universe. If you are curious about the world around you then come and study physics at sydney.
School of Physics website
What do physicists do?
Among Sydney physics graduates you will find chief executives and senior managers, patent attorneys, computer programmers, consultants, astronomers, geophysicists, actuaries, and many other research scientists.
The skills acquired through a major in physics, which include problem-solving, information handling, quantitative analysis and the use of computers as a problem solving tool, are in demand for jobs in research, medicine, communications, manufacturing, environmental science, teaching, finance, journalism, public service and management.
Physics is excellent training for hundreds of careers: jobs requiring critical reasoning, logical thought, teamwork and problem solving are commonly filled by physics graduates. Recent graduates have found employment in companies such as Telstra, BHP Billiton, Canon and research organisations such as CSIRO, DSTO and NASA.
Physics can even develop over into whole new areas e.g. photonics and medicine.
Physics is not just for aspiring physicists. Many people find a physics background useful, but have their sights on a career in another field. Our students range from those who have not studied physics at school to those who excelled at it. Physics at Sydney offers options for everyone.
The fundamentals unit offers a gentle introduction in semester one of first year for those who have little or no previous experience in physics. It starts with the language of physics and brings students to a point where they can choose between technological or environmental and life science flavours in semester two.
Many students with a background in high school physics take the regular entry into first year physics and then make the same technological or environmental and life science choice in semester two.
Students with a strong background in physics may choose the advanced units throughout their study of physics. These include more challenging material than other units, covered in greater depth and with more mathematical rigour.
Physics attracts some of the very best students in the faculty. They are offered the opportunity to undertake special programs, working with staff on projects of current research interest.
What will you study?
In first year, you’ll be introduced to all of the main areas of physics. You will study mechanics, thermal physics, waves, fluids, electricity, magnetism and quantum physics. By choosing advanced physics, you will be challenged a bit more and will cover extra topics such as chaos. Laboratory work and interactive tutorials are important components of each unit. You also have the choice of an astronomy unit in second semester, which presents a view of the full range of modern astronomy. You can do this unit without any physics background at all and does not require first semester physics.
In second year, you will cover topics such as quantum physics, special relativity, electromagnetism, optics, nuclear and particle physics and astrophysics. You will take part in an experimental physics program and in some units you will also complete a laboratory component where you will investigate realistic problems using computer-based techniques.
In third year, you will cover electromagnetism and quantum mechanics in more detail, plus options including condensed matter physics, optics, thermodynamics, energy physics, astrophysics, high energy physics, plasma physics, nanoscience and biological physics. you will also complete an experimental physics component. If you enrol in advanced physics, you can undertake a special project with a research group in the School of Physics. The project can be experimental, theoretical or computational.
If you choose to do an honours year in physics, you will join one of the research groups in the school and work on a significant research problem. Fifty per cent of your total mark for this year is awarded for your research project via a written report (thesis) and an oral presentation describing your research. The other fifty percent of your honours mark comes from lectures covering various topics in advanced physics.
After graduating with honours in physics, you can continue with research in a master’s or Phd course. Through these courses, you will undertake original research in one of the school’s research groups, with opportunities to collaborate with numerous other organisations, both in Australia and overseas. For a full list of the specialised areas in which research is undertaken, please visit the School of Physics website.
With a major in physics you can also pursue a master’s by coursework rather than research in the fields of photonics and optical science, medical physics and applied nuclear science.