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The School of Physics is part of the Faculty of Science. Most units of study in this major are available at standard and advanced level.

About the major

Physics is the basis of most of the sciences. To study physics is to study the most fundamental laws of the universe such as electromagnetism, general relativity and quantum physics, which have led to new technologies including GPS, magnetic resonance imaging, and quantum computers. Techniques developed by physicists are used across the sciences, e.g. nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, radio-carbon dating, nuclear medicine and electron microscopy.

Our civilization’s current challenges - including switching to sustainable energy, countering climate change, and understanding and beating pandemics - all require deep understanding of processes in the natural world – and scientists with a physics background are leading research in all of these fields. Physics is also the science that will allow us to answer profound questions such as whether there is life elsewhere in the universe, or even whether other universes exist.

But studying physics is not just for physicists. Physics is a generalist major that, instead of preparing you for a narrow career path in just one area, allows you great freedom of choice in your ultimate employment. This may appeal to students who have not yet committed themselves to one career choice. Skills acquired during a physics major, such as numerical and logical problem solving, information handling, critical reasoning, clear communication, experimentation, and use of computers as an analysis tool, are much in demand in many fields of employment. You may end up as a professional physicist, but equally these skills are valued for a job in medicine, communications, manufacturing, teaching, journalism, public service, management, finance, and many more.

Requirements for completion

The Physics major requirements are listed in the Physics unit of study table.

Contact and further information

Associate Professor Tristram Alexander
T +61 2 8627 6354

Study physics

School of Physics
Physics Office, Room 210, Building A28
University of Sydney NSW 2006

Physics Student Services
T +61 2 9351 3037

Learning outcomes

Students who graduate from Physics will be able to:

No. Learning outcomes
1 Exhibit a broad understanding of foundation concepts in physics and the mathematical skills necessary to formalise these concepts.
2 Explain how physical theories are formulated and tested, and how they are used to explain and interpret observations.
3 Explain the role and relevance of physics to society and describe its role in the development and application of technology.
4 Investigate and solve physics problems using experimental, computational, and theoretical tools and techniques.
5 Evaluate experimental or computational data in physics, including uncertainties, and use the results to draw conclusions.
6 Communicate physics to a variety of audiences through a range of modes using evidence-based arguments, and evaluate arguments presented by others.
7 Source, collect, synthesise and critically evaluate information on issues in physics from a range of relevant sources.
8 Identify how fundamental physics concepts are applicable in different contexts and apply physics knowledge and techniques to solve problems outside the discipline.
9 Design, plan and conduct a physics experiment or project.
10 Address authentic problems in physics, working professionally, responsibly and ethically and with consideration of cross-cultural perspectives, within collaborative, interdisciplinary teams.