Units of Study

Third year physics is changing with the new curriculum. If you are enrolled in the old curriculum and will complete the physics major in 2018, this will not affect you. However, if you are enrolled in the old curriculum but will not complete the major this year, you will be affected. Please see the Senior Physics Units from 2019 page for an explanation of your options.

All units of study are worth 6 credit points. The individual lecture modules generally comprise 19 lectures and each is worth 2 credit points. See also the page on how to choose your units.

Enrolled students can use the eLearning link to access the Senior Physics site for the current semester.

Semester 1 - Physics Core (choose one):
PHYS 3040,3940 Electromagnetism (2 cp) / Lab (4 cp)
PHYS 3941 Electromagnetism (Adv) (2 cp) / Special Project (4 cp)
Semester 1 - Physics Options (choose one):
PHYS 3042,3942 Quantum Physics / Astrophysics / Plasma Physics (2 cp each)
PHYS 3043,3943 Quantum Physics / Astrophysics / Computational Physics (2 cp each)
PHYS 3044,3944  Quantum Physics / Plasma Physics / Computational Physics (2 cp each)
PHYS 3015,3915
(permission required)
Topics in Senior Physics A
Semester 2 - Physics Core (choose one):
PHYS 3090,3990 Statistical Mechanics (2 cp) / Lab (4 cp)
PHYS 3991 Statistical Mechanics (Adv) (2 cp) / Special Project (4 cp)
Semester 2 - Physics Options (choose one):
PHYS 3068,3968 Condensed Matter Physics / Optics / Lab (2 cp each)
PHYS 3069,3969 High Energy Physics / Optics / Lab (2 cp each)
PHYS 3074,3974 Condensed Matter Physics / High Energy Physics / Lab (2 cp each)
PHYS 3080,3980 Condensed Matter Physics / High Energy Physics / Optics (2 cp each)
PHYS 3025,3925
(permission required)
Topics in Senior Physics B
Semester 1 - Nanoscience Major
PHYS3039, PHYS3939
(Nanoscience major only)
Quantum Physics / Computational Physics / Lab (2 cp each)
Semester 2 - Nanoscience Major
PHYS3099, PHYS3999
(Nanoscience major only)
Statistical Mechanics / Condensed Matter Physics / Lab (2 cp each)

Electromagnetism (core)

Offered in Semester: 1

This is one of three lecture modules that are compulsory for students undertaking a major in Physics (the others are Quantum Physics and Statistical Mechanics).

The lectures cover the classical theory of electromagnetism and introduce Maxwell's equations in their differential form. The main application is to electromagnetic waves, including the interaction of waves with matter through reflection and absorption.

The units that include this lecture module are listed in the Table at the top of this page.

Module Outlines: Electromagnetism

Textbook: Introduction to Electrodynamics (Third Edition) by David J. Griffiths. All students will be expected to have access to a copy. This book will also be useful as a reference book for the Intermediate physics lecture module on Electromagnetic Properties of Matter and the Physics Honours course on Advanced Electromagnetic Theory.

Prerequisites: PHYS (2011 or 2911) and PHYS (2012 or 2912) (average of 70 for entry to the Advanced level); and MATH (2021 or 2921 or 2061 or 2961 or 2067).

Quantum Physics (core)

Offered in Semester: 1

This is one of three lecture modules that are compulsory for students undertaking a major in Physics (the others are Electromagnetism and Statistical Mechanics).

This lecture module builds on Intermediate Quantum Physics to cover more advanced topics, including atomic theory and spectroscopy, quantisation of the hydrogen atom, angular momentum in quantum mechanics, and perturbation theory.

The units that include this lecture module are listed in the Table at the top of this page.

Module Outlines: Quantum Physics

Prerequisites: PHYS (2011 or 2911) and PHYS (2012 or 2912) (average of 70 for entry to the Advanced level); MATH (2021 or 2921 or 2061 or 2961 or 2067).

Astrophysics (option)

Offered in Semester: 1

This module covers the structure and evolution of stars. We will describe the processes that take place as stars evolve, and the eventual fates of different types of stars. We will show that the presence of a binary companion can greatly alter the fate of a star, and show how accretion can liberate large amounts of energy.

The units that include this lecture module are listed in the Table at the top of this page.

Module Outline: Astrophysics

Prerequisites: PHYS (2011 or 2911) and PHYS (2012 or 2912) (average of 70 for entry to the Advanced level). Note that the Intermediate physics lecture module on cosmology (PHYS 2013/2913) is not assumed knowledge for this course.

Computational Physics (option)

Offered in Semester: 1

This module provides a Senior-level treatment of problem solving using computers, with applications in physics and related areas of science. Students will learn to apply a variety of numerical schemes for solving ordinary and partial differential equations. Emphasis is placed on the suitability of particular methods to particular problems, and on the understanding of numerical accuracy and stability. The module will involve a mixture of lectures and computational lab sessions. All coding is done in MATLAB, and no programming experience is assumed beyond that covered in Intermediate Physics.

Module Outline: Computational Physics

Prerequisites: PHYS (2011 or 2911) and PHYS (2012 or 2912) (average of 70 for entry to the Advanced level)

Plasma Physics (option)

Offered in Semester: 1

The lectures on Plasma Physics aim to provide an understanding of the physics of fundamental phenomena in plasmas and to introduce the basic methods of theoretical and experimental plasma physics. The course includes a study of collective phenomena and sheaths, collisional processes, single particle motions, fluid models, equilibria, waves, electromagnetic properties, instabilities, and introduction to kinetic theory. Examples will be given, where appropriate, of the application of these concepts to naturally occurring and man-made plasmas.

Note that the Senior lecture module on Electromagnetism is assumed knowledge for this course.

The units that include this lecture module are listed in the Table at the top of this page.

Module Outline: Plasma Physics

Prerequisites: PHYS (2011 or 2911) and PHYS (2012 or 2912) (average of 70 for entry to the Advanced level); MATH (2021 or 2921 or 2061 or 2961 or 2067).

Corequisite: PHYS (3040 or 3940 or 3941)

PHYS 3015/3915: Topics in Senior Physics A

Offered in Semester: 1

This 6-credit-point unit is normally restricted to students not majoring in Physics, to give them the flexibility to take a combination of lecture topics and laboratory classes that is not offered in the standard units. It is also available to physics majors who have split their Senior Physics units over more than one year and have been affected by changes to the course structure. Note that if you are enrolled in this unit the Faculty will not provide a detailed timetable and you will be advised by the School of Physics about your exams. It is your responsibility to attend the correct classes and complete the assessment items for the specific subjects you are studying, once you are enrolled in this unit. Enrollment requires permission from the .

Prerequisites: Depends on the subjects chosen.


Statistical Mechanics (core)

Offered in Semester: 2

This is one of three lecture modules that are compulsory for students undertaking a major in Physics (the others are Electromagnetism and Quantum Physics).

This lecture module aims to provide a theoretical foundation for statistical mechanics, including both classical and quantum distributions. The units that include this lecture module are listed in the Table at the top of this page.

Textbook: An Introduction to Thermal Physics by Daniel V. Schroeder. All students will be expected to have access to a copy. This book is also the recommended reference book for the Intermediate physics lecture module on Thermodynamics.

Module Outline: Statistical Mechanics

Prerequisites: PHYS (2011 or 2911) and PHYS (2012 or 2912) (average of 70 for entry to the Advanced level).

Condensed Matter Physics (option)

Offered in Semester: 2

These lectures provide a basic introduction to condensed matter systems, specifically the physics that underlies the electromagnetic, thermal, and optical properties of solids. The course draws on basic quantum theory and statistical mechanics and considers recent discoveries and new developments in semiconductors, nanostructures, magnetism, and superconductivity.
Note that the Senior lecture modules on Quantum Physics and Statistical Mechanics are assumed knowledge for this course.

The units that include this lecture module are listed in the Table at the top of this page.

Module Outline: Condensed Matter Physics

Prerequisites: PHYS (2011 or 2911) and PHYS (2012 or 2912) (average of 70 for entry to the Advanced level). Also the Senior lecture module on Quantum Physics.

Corequisite: PHYS (3090 or 3990 or 3991)

High Energy Physics (option)

Offered in Semester: 2

These lectures cover the basic constituents of matter, such as quarks and leptons, examining their fundamental properties and interactions. They include some discussion of extensions to the currently accepted Standard Model of Particle Physics, and of the relationships between High Energy Particle Physics, Cosmology and the early Universe.

Note that the Intermediate physics lecture module on Special Relativity (PHYS 2013/2913) and the Senior lecture module on Quantum Physics are assumed knowledge for this course.

The units that include this lecture module are listed in the Table at the top of this page.

Module Outline: High Energy Physics

Prerequisites: PHYS (2011 or 2911) and PHYS (2012 or 2912) and PHYS (2013 or 2913) (average of 70 for entry to the Advanced level). Also the Senior lecture module on Quantum Physics. Students who have not taken PHYS (2013 or 2913) should contact the Senior Physics Coordinator for permission to waive this prerequisite.

Optics (option)

Offered in Semester: 2

These lectures introduce students to some aspects of modern optics, using the laser to illustrate the application and importance of the topics that are covered. The field of optics was revolutionized by the invention of the laser in 1960. All types of experiments suddenly became possible, which in turn led to the development of new theories. In these lectures we will see how a laser works and will then look at some consequences of the laser, all of this in combination with a discussion of the basic optical properties of materials. In particular, we will look at the Lorentz model as a model for the optical properties of matter, spontaneous and stimulated emission of light, rate equation analysis of lasers, diffraction, Gaussian beam propagation, anisotropic media and, if time permits, nonlinear optics.
The Senior lecture module on Electromagnetism is assumed knowledge for this course.

The units that include this lecture module are listed in the Table at the top of this page.

Module Outline: Optics

Prerequisites: PHYS (2011 or 2911) and PHYS (2012 or 2912) (average of 70 for entry to the Advanced level). Also MATH (2021 or 2921 or 2061 or 2961 or 2067) and PHYS (3040 or 3940 or 3941).

PHYS 3025/3925: Topics in Senior Physics B

Offered in Semester: 2

This 6-credit-point unit is normally restricted to students not majoring in Physics, to give them the flexibility to take a combination of lecture topics and laboratory classes that is not offered in the standard units. It is also available to physics majors who have split their Senior Physics units over more than one year and have been affected by changes to the course structure. Note that if you are enrolled in this unit the Faculty will not provide a detailed timetable and you will be advised by the School of Physics about your exams. It is your responsibility to attend the correct classes and complete the assessment items for the specific subjects you are studying, once you are enrolled in this unit. Enrollment requires permission from the .

Prerequisites: Depends on the subjects chosen.