Undergraduate study in Applied Physics

Learn about your undergraduate study options for Applied Physics.

What can you study in Applied Physics?

You can study Applied Physics as a specialisation in the Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) (BAdvSci(Hons)).

Students can choose from five sub-disciplines which include:

  • Computational Science
  • Medical Physics and Imaging Technology (MPIT)
  • Nano and Materials Physics
  • Photonics
  • Space Systems

Graduates will develop the skills and knowledge needed for entry into New Zealand’s high-tech industries, or if they choose, to proceed to graduate study.

Entry requirements for BAdvSci(Hons) Applied Physics

Entry to the Bachelor of Advanced Science in Applied Physics is limited. Selection into this programme will require a higher standard than some other programmes. For detailed entry criteria, please see this page.

Structuring your undergraduate programme in Applied Physics

Applied Physics is designed for students with a strong interest in the application of physical theories to solve problems and a desire to undertake research.

In addition a core selection of Physics papers, students will choose from a range of interdisciplinary papers in Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, and Medical Science, enabling them to specialise in one of five areas:

Computational Science - Computation science seeks to solve complex, real-world problems using tools from applied mathematics and physics. Students will be trained in the analytic and numerical techniques from both disciplines, and apply these to problems across the physical sciences, as well as to problems in economics and social science.

Medical Physics and Imaging Technology (MPIT) - Medical Physics and Imaging Technology is the application of physics theories, technologies and methods in the field of biomedical imaging, modelling, diagnostics and disease treatments. This specialisation will train graduates who are proficient in the complementary areas of physics, biology and physiology, and skilled in the design and application of imaging and biomedical technologies. Graduates will work in either the biomedical industry, pursue a research career in biomedical optics or engage in further training to qualify as registered medical physicists.

Nano and Materials Physics - Throughout history, people’s lives have been improved by efforts to make, understand and use new materials. Today, basic physics and chemistry are critical skills for making the materials which will build tomorrow’s computers, improve medical care, monitor and care for our environment, and support a sustainable economy driven by renewable energy. Materials innovation generates companies and technologies that have global impact, and has underpinned recent growth in NZ’s high-value manufacturing sector.

Photonics - Photonics is the science and technology of light. It is one of the key enabling technologies of the 21st century with applications across sensing, communications, manufacturing and health. A recent study by the Australia and New Zealand Optical Society estimated the total value of Photonics to the NZ economy to be 1.2 billion NZD. A combination of courses from Physics and Electrical Engineering will enable students to work in this exciting new area.

Space Systems - New Zealand is now a space-faring nation, with a burgeoning space economy valued by a recent report at 1.7 billion NZD. Space systems includes remote sensing, imaging, orbital dynamics, material science, mechanics, programming and fluid mechanics. This degree combines courses from Physics and Mechanical Engineering and will prepare students to work in a fast-evolving marketplace.

The programme has a strong applied focus with a 45 point fourth year research project typically to be carried out in collaboration with a local industry or medical partner. The many strong relationships Physics department researchers have already established with NZ high-tech companies will allow students to choose from a wide range of potential industry projects.

You can use our degree planners to help you plan the courses you need to take for your BAdvSci(Hons). To find the most up to date Applied Physics degree planners, go to the Science degree planners page


Year 1:
CORE BAdvSci paper stage 1
PHYSICS 120 Advancing Physics 1 (or direct entry to PHYSICS 121)
PHYSICS 121 Advancing Physics 2
MATHS 120 - Algebra
MATHS 130 - Calculus
MATHS 250 - Algebra and calculus 2

Year 2:
CORE BAdvSci paper stage 2
MATHS 253 - Algebra and calculus 2, or MATHS 260 - Differential Equations
PHYSICS 201-244
PHYSICS 201-244

Year 3:
CORE BAdvSci paper stage 2
PHYSICS 331-380
PHYSICS 331-380
PHYSICS 390 - Experimental Physics

Year 4:
PHYSICS 701-780
PHYSICS 701-780
PHYSICS 786 - BAdvSci(Hons) Dissertation in Physics

CORE BAdvSci papers are:
(*) only students in the Science Scholars program can enroll in SCISCHOL courses

Interdisciplinary papers should be chosen according to the area of specialisation selected:

  • Computational Science

MATHS 260 Differential Equations
MATHS 270 Numerical Computation
MATHS 340 Real and Complex Calculus
MATHS 361 Partial Differential Equations
MATHS 362 Methods in Applied Mathematics
MATHS 363 Advanced Modelling and Computation
MATHS 761 Dynamical Systems
MATHS 762 Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations
MATHS 763 Advanced Partial Differential Equations
MATHS 765 Mathematical Modelling
MATHS 766 Inverse Problems
MATHS 770 Advanced Numerical Analysis

  • Medical Physics and Imaging Technology (MPIT)

MEDSCI 205 Physiology of Human Organ
MEDSCI 206 Principles of Neuroscience
MEDSCI 309 Biophysics of Nerve and Muscle
MEDSCI 703 Advanced Biomedical Imaging
MEDSCI 737 Biomedical MRI

  • Nano and Materials Physics

CHEM 251 Structure and Spectroscopy
CHEM 252 Properties and Analysis of Matter
CHEM 310 Structural Chemistry and Spectroscopy
CHEM 340 Advanced Analytical Chemistry
CHEM 380 Materials Chemistry
CHEM 710 Advanced Physical Chemistry
CHEM 740 Current Topics in Analytical Chemistry
CHEM 780 Advanced Materials Chemistry

  • Photonics

ELECTENG 210 Electronics 1
ELECTENG 303 Systems and Control
ELECTENG 726 Digital Communications
ELECTENG 732 Communications Systems

  • Space Systems

MECHENG 211 Thermofluids
MECHENG 340 Mechanics of Materials 2
MECHENG 711 Computational Fluid Dynamics
MECHENG 743 Composite Materials

Where can undergraduate study in Applied Physics take you?

Many avenues open up to graduates with training in Applied Physics.

Activities related to Physics jobs

  • Working with electronic and computer applications
  • Space science
  • Materials development
  • Patent consulting
  • Production process and control
  • Research in Crown Research Institutes
  • Medical Physicist
  • Photonics research and development

Further study options

  • Master of Science
  • Doctor of Philosophy

Scholarships and awards

Each year we award scholarships and prizes to thousands of students.

Find out about the scholarships you may be eligible for, search available scholarships or begin an application by visiting Scholarships and awards.

Help and advice

For further information and advice, please contact the Science Student Centre.

Science Student Centre
Level G, Room G 20
(Beside the entrance to the Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre)
Building 301
23 Symonds Street
Auckland 1010
Phone: +64 9 923 7020
Email: scifac@auckland.ac.nz
Web: www.physics.auckland.ac.nz