- The Fundamental Science
Physics is the study of the laws of
nature that govern the behaviour of the universe, from the very
smallest scales of sub-atomic particles to the very largest in cosmology.
It applies these laws to the solution of practical problems and
to the development of new technologies. Physicists engage a broad
range of skills to undertake this work. A physicist might be a theorist
puzzling over fundamental laws, a numerical modeller developing
sophisticated computer algorithms to calculate how systems behave,
an experimentalist developing new techniques to measure properties
of nature or an engineer combining those theories and techniques
into new technologies. Physics is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary,
as physicists work with mathematicians, engineers, chemists and
biologists in order to understand and solve a wide range of problems
Physics is a challenging and rewarding
subject. Its study instructs a person in the art of critical thinking,
how to pose questions and how to solve problems. Physics is at the
heart of almost every facet of modern life.
The School of Physics is one of the
largest and most prominent Schools in the university. It is also
among the largest Schools of Physics in any Australian university.
The School conducts leading edge research in a wide variety of fields.
It is well equipped with student computing facilities, teaching
laboratories, workshops and its own astronomical observatory.
The School of Physics has built up
a number of major teaching and research facilities which students
will use during the course of their studies. These include the recently
upgraded first year teaching laboratories; separate second and third
year Physics laboratories; an electronics and a micro-computer laboratory
and teaching telescopes.
Research facilities students may use
include: the Automated Patrol Telescope; the 'Mopra' Millimetre
Wave Observatory; the 'Automated Astrophysical Site Testing Observatory'
at the South Pole; the National Pulsed Magnet Laboratory; the Protein
Crystallography Facility; the Semiconductor Nanofabrication Facility;
and the UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology.
Options for Study
3/4 years full time
UAC Code: 429000
In all Physics programs you study Physics
and Mathematics courses in your first year, puls a variety of courses
in other fields. In later years, in addition to core Physics and
Mathematics courses, you also have the opportunity to follow your
interests and choose elective courses such as astrophysics, optoelectronics
or nuclear science.
Physics Physics may be studied as a
major or minor within the 3-year Bachelor of Science. This degree
is extremely flexible and the wide variety of courses available
to choose from allows you to tailor your degree to fit your interests
and career aspirations. For instance, you may decide to combine
your physics studies with courses from another science discipline
such as Mathematics or Biotechnology, or you may include courses
from other faculties of the university such as Arts or Commerce.
In all Science degrees you may choose to complete a research-oriented
honours year, with a fourth year of study. Research projects conducted
with individual academics form an integral part of this.
3/4 years full time
UAC Code 429010
The School of Physics offers five different
study plans within the Advanced Science program. These study plans
are designed for particularly able students. Some areas of study,
such as Medical Physics, are only available through Advanced Science.
Physics With a wide variety
of elective courses and the opportunity to pursue individual research
projects from early in your degree, this is an ideal course of study,
whatever area of Physics you are interested in.
Medical Physics Graduates of
this study plan fill an increasing demand for physicists in hospitals.
It combines studies in Physics with study in areas such as Medical
Physics, Biophysics, Biology, Biochemistry and Physiology.
Physics and Astronomy The astrophysics
department at UNSW is one of the most active research groups in
Australia. This study plan includes Astronomy courses in each year
of your degree, and you can conduct research projects with international
telescopes in your Honours year.
Engineering Physics This study
plan combines Physics with elements of engineering practice and
management. It is ideal for people who are interested in Physics,
but attracted more towards applications and the solution of practical
Physics with Computer Science
This study plan combines Physics with approximately 25% Computer
Science courses. It is ideal training for those interested in information
Physics can be taken at UNSW as a major
component of several combined degrees. These degrees enable students
to match Science or Advanced Science with another field of study,
opening up an even broader spectrum of career opportunities. Students
who perform well have the option of completing an extra Honours
year. The following attractive combinations are available:
4 years full time, UAC Code: 424000
5 years full time, UAC Code: 426001
4 years full time, UAC Code: 429001
4 years full time, UAC Code: 429002
5 years full time, UAC Code: 425021
The School of Physics conducts leading
edge research in many different fields. These include astrophysics,
biophysics, environmental physics, theoretical physics, nanotechnology
and semiconductor physics. Each year, researchers in the School
of Physics receive several million dollars in research funds, putting
it at the forefront of Physics departments in Australia.
Students in the school have the opportunity
to conduct their own research including completing two major research
projects with individual lecturers as part of an Honours year.
Some of the projects students are currently
involved in include building an observatory at the South Pole, developing
the world's first practical "quantum computer", a machine
that promises an extraordinary leap forward in computing power,
and studying the acoustics of musical instruments such as flutes
From Study to Careers...
4th Year Medical Physics Student
"Choosing the right degree to
study at University can be a stressful decision; it's something
that requires considerable investigation and thought. Personally,
I have found a Physics-based degree an ideal choice, for it is the
only program around that provides the necessary background to understand
our technological future.
"My decision to choose Medical
Physics at UNSW was based on the knowledge I'd get to work in an
environment that would develop logical reasoning, meeting some of
the world's best scientists in the process. At the moment, I'm assisting
in the design of a new detector for prostate concer. Facilities
in the School of Physics have allowed me to work with extremely
sophisticated (and expensive) equipment, whether it be lasers, electron
microscopes or even atoms.
"Physics at UNSW has proven its
worth to me several times over. It's a place where every student
knows one another, a place where life-long friendships will undoubtedly
be established. The Physics Students' Society promotes staff-student
contact, and arranges events ranging from soccer matches to social
camps. The assortment of sporting clubs and entertainment around
the campus provides the other half of any student's university life.
I've found the UNSW Judo and Aikido clubs particularly rewarding.
"Physics provides a flexible balance
of theory and practical work, with good employment prospects at
the end of the degree. Graduating with a degree in Physics will
open many doors, ranging from prestigious research projects to employment
in areas that require skills with computing, electronics, fibre-optic
communications, or nuclear medicine. It's not a degree that will
trap you into one particular line of work; it provides the basis
with which you can adapt to a rapidly changing future."
BSc (Hons), PhD UNSW
"Upon finishing Year 12, I chose
to study Science at UNSW. I did a Bachelor of Science degree with
a Physics major. I chose Physics as I had always enjoyed Astronomy
and Atmospheric Physics. I know that a Science degree would give
me a good grounding for any future career I may decide to pursue,
whether that was a research position, teaching, computing or even
a managerial position. After completing my Bachelors degree, I found
that I enjoyed the challenges Physics had to offer and wanted more,
so I completed my Honours year. This led me on to study for a PhD
in Astrophysics at UNSW. My PhD years were some of the best years
of my life. I met many great people, many of whom are still close
friends today. I travelled around the world to many different observatories,
universities and conferences.
"After finishing my PhD, I worked
in several research and teaching positions. However, I have now
settled into a Computer Systems Manager position at the Anglo-Australian
Observatory. I have combined my two great passions, computing and
astronomy. I believe a Physics degree can give you the skills necessary
to do anything."
Career Options with
Many Physics graduates follow careers
in research, and in areas such as telecommunications and photonics
there is a high demand for qualified physicists. As Physics teaches
you how to solve problems and equips you with mathematical and information
technology skills, a vast range of other career options are available.
Some of these include scientific sales and management; teaching
at schools, TAFE and universities; and the Commonwealth and State
Public Service. UNSW Physics graduates have also made successful
careers in industries such as manufacturing, communications, computing,
electronics, finance, and biomedical technology.
It is now common for people to have
several very different careers during their life. A university degree
should not just train you for your first job, but teach you skills
that you will use for the next forty years. A Physics degree teaches
you how to analyse and solve problems, to work in a team with others
and to think critically and creatively; all valuable skills that
you will use in every career you follow.
Like to know more?
See the UNSW Science Handbook or UAC
Contact the School of Physics directly