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Physics

Understand the principles that underpin the phenomena of nature

Physics is a truly universal science. It is the rational development of experiments, observations and theories to explain the world around us and all that we perceive. 

What is physics?

Physics explores the fundamental structure of the universe, starting with the smallest subatomic particles. It deals with the nature of space and time, matter and energy, and provides the foundation for modern technology, from smartphones and tablet computers to quantum devices and medical imaging equipment.

A grounding in physics will help nurture your curious mind, enabling you to become an expert problem solver no matter what career or industry you choose.

Why study physics with us?

The School of Physics at the University of Sydney is the leading Physics department in the country*, with outstanding staff and students undertaking world-leading teaching and research.

With access to supercomputers, modern laboratories, research facilities and observatories, locally, nationally and internationally, the School of Physics provides an exceptional environment in which to learn, collaborate and thrive.

Launched in 2016, the Sydney Nano Institute is an exemplar of investment in the future of technology. The Institute has initiated a multi-year partnership with Microsoft, creating an unrivalled setting and foundation for quantum research in Sydney and Australia.

The long-term Microsoft investment brings state of the art equipment, enables the recruitment of new staff, helps build the nation’s scientific and engineering talent, attracts significant research project funding into the University, and assures students a key role in the emerging “quantum economy.”

Corporate partnerships are also being established with the University of Sydney spin-off company Q-CTRL, recently chosen to collaborate with IBM. This opportunity will give University staff access to IBM’s world-leading quantum technology.

* US News Rankings by Subject, 2018

Opportunities for talented students

The Dalyell Scholars program is offered to students with an ATAR (or equivalent) of 98+ or more. The program allows you to broaden your knowledge of physics and gain insights into the way physicists conduct their research.

You will be assigned an academic mentor who will arrange special activities for you throughout the year. Along with Advanced or Special Studies coursework, you will participate in exclusive seminars, projects and excursions – such as to the radio telescope at Parkes or the Tidbinbilla deep‑space tracking station in Canberra.

Where can physics take you?

As a physics graduate, your choices are extensive. You could conduct research and development in universities or industry, become a high-level analyst or educator, or apply your problem-solving abilities to the world of business. Physics graduates work in next generation computing, nanoscience, artificial intelligence, medical science, the financial sector, as well as big data and technological companies, such as Google and Spotify.

Our physics graduates have become politicians and business leaders, teachers, journalists, managers, financiers and IT professionals. Many have found employment in companies such as Telstra, BHP Billiton, Canon and research organisations such as CSIRO, DSTO and NASA.

Astronomy and physics

The School of Physics is very active in the area of astronomy and we offer several undergraduate astronomy courses:

First Year
PHYS1500 Astronomy is aimed at interested students from all faculties.

Second Year
Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics is a module in PHYS 2013/2913 Astrophysics and Relativity

Third Year
Astrophysics in third year continues the exploration of important astrophysical environments and processes. Special projects are also available which may involve working with staff on an astronomy project.

Honours Year
There are a number of astronomy honours projects available each year.

Read the Physics Honours Projects for current availability.

How can I study physics?

Course options

To complete a major in physics you can enrol in a huge range of science degrees, including our Bachelor of Science degree, combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies or the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science to name a few.

It is also possible to undertake physics as a second major or minor through many other degrees offered within and outside of the Faculty of Science. 

You are also welcome to study individual physics units as electives alongside a different major. This will help you become a well-rounded graduate with refined problem-solving skills.

Programs, majors and minors:

Explore other study options in technology.

In your honours year you will receive technical training in research techniques and instrumentation, as well as invaluable skills in communication, project management and critical analysis.

School of Physics Honours handbook (PDF, 231kb)

School of Physics Projects (PDF, 2.1mb)

Visit the faculty honours page for more information.

Graduate Diploma in Medical Physics

The Graduate Diploma in Medical Physics will sharpen your skills so you can become a part of the highly scientific and technical field of medical physics. You may then wish to continue on to the Master of Medical Physics to become a clinical physical scientist after completion of the Graduate Diploma.

Master of Medical Physics

The entry-level Master of Medical Physics qualification will give you the technical expertise to work within a clinical setting across areas of medicine including cancer treatment, diagnostic imaging, physiological monitoring and medical electronics. This course is accredited by the Australasian College of Physical Scientisits and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM).

See all our postgraduate coursework degrees