Preparing for University Physics

Many subjects at university follow on from material covered at secondary school in the Higher School Certificate (HSC) or equivalent. If you want to do Undergraduate Physics at university then you should study maths and physics for the HSC, along with whatever else interests you.

Not all students enter physics at University with this background in physics at school. In some courses (e.g. the Bachelor of Medical Science), there are many students with no physics background. If that is you, consider taking the Physics Bridging Course, offered in February each year to new students. This course is designed for students who are about to take physics for the first time, or need to refresh their knowledge after a break from study or who have tried physics and found it difficult.

Some students choose to enter University after an extended break from study. In that case, the University Preparation Course Introduction to Science is for you, spread over a whole year and covering a range of science to prepare for university.

We recommend any Science student entering their first year attend the Transition workshop. It provides an opportunity to meet other incoming students and some current staff.

Undergraduate Physics

Undergraduate Physics consists of a series of coursework Units of Study, each with a value in Credit Points (usually 6), undertaken as part of a Course that leads to the award of a Degree. If you gain a certain minimum number of Physics credit points at the Senior (3rd year) level you are said the have a major in Physics. (See also the Glossary of terms provided by the Science Faculty.)

You can, for example, ‘major in physics’ in a Bachelor of Science degree or as part of another degree altogether. There are many options.

What does a typical BSc degree majoring in Physics look like?

Physics Majors

In your first year, you will study physics and maths and be able to choose from a range of other subjects. In Intermediate (second year) and Senior (third year) Physics, you can study topics such as quantum physics, special relativity, condensed matter physics, astrophysics, statistical mechanics, plasma physics, computational physics, particle physics, modern optics and photonics.

A highlight of the Physics program for the highest achieving students is the Talented Student Program that offers an opportunity to engage with the research staff from your first year at university.

If you continue with physics at Intermediate and Senior levels, you can choose either to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree after three years, or do a fourth year of physics study involving your own research project. After the fourth year, you can graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree with Honours in Physics.

The School of Physics offers another major in Nanoscience and Technology which is concerned with the understanding of interactions between arrays of atoms or molecules on the nanometre scale and using this knowledge to design materials with specific physical, chemical or biological functions.

Postgraduate Physics

After your Honours year, you may choose to continue into Postgraduate Physics, studying towards a higher research degree. The School of Physics offers Masters and PhD degrees in an outstanding, world-recognised research environment.

As an alternative to postgraduate research, the School of Physics also offers a graduate coursework program in Medical Physics. Completion of the Master of Medical Physics degree will satisfy one of the requisites for the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM) training, education and accreditation program.

Continuing Education

For many years, staff of the School of Physics have also been active in the presentation of courses to the general public through the University's Continuing Education Program. In recent years, a variety of Modern Astronomy courses have been given, together with bus tours to observatories in NSW.