Undergraduate study in Physics

What can you study in Physics?

You can study Physics as a major in the Bachelor of Science (BSc), or as a specialisation in the Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) (BAdvSci(Hons)). You can find out more about these options below.

As a Physics student you’ll find out how to undertake rigorous investigations into matter, the concepts of energy and force, and the laws of nature.

Our topics include:

  • Acoustics
  • Astronomy
  • Electronics, including medical imaging and devices
  • Fibre optics and telecommunications
  • Lasers
  • Meteorology
  • Nuclear physics
  • Quantum physics

The Bachelor of Science (BSc), with a major in Physics

You have many options available to you within a BSc Physics major. You can choose to keep your Physics major general, or you can choose to follow one of two Physics pathways, in order to focus your studies further:

  • Medical Physics and Imaging Technology: The science of biomedical optics, biophotonics and medical physics. Students on this pathway will gain specialist training in the use of optical and laser technologies for biomedical studies, with applications in sensing, medicine and modelling.
  • Photonics: The science and technology of light. Students on this pathway will gain specialist training in photonic and electronic engineering, advanced physics and mathematical electronics.

You’ll complete PHYSICS 399, the Physics capstone course, in your final year of study. In the capstone course you’ll employ core methodologies (experimental, observational, computational and numerical) to investigate some aspect of a key physical phenomenon. You’ll relate your findings to contemporary research in the field, and also consider wider societal aspects and issues.

Capstone course: a student-led project providing you with an opportunity to integrate and apply your previous learning to a real-world problem.

The Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) (BAdvSci(Hons)), with a specialisation in Physics

If you already have a strong starting point in physics and mathematics, and you’re keen to advance your learning at an accelerated pace, then studying Physics as a specialisation in the Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) could be the choice for you.

In your Physics specialisation you’ll take core courses in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science to help sharpen your disciplinary focus.

You’ll find out how to undertake rigorous investigations into matter, the concepts of energy and force, and the laws of nature.

Areas of study include:

  • Acoustics
  • Astronomy
  • Electronics
  • Fibre optics and telecommunications
  • Lasers
  • Medical imaging and devices
  • Meteorology
  • Nuclear physics
  • Quantum physics

In your fourth year, you’ll complete an independent research project and dissertation, which will prepare you to advance to doctoral study or enter the workforce.

Structuring your programme in Physics

If you began your degree prior to 2019 we recommend you seek advice to make sure you are taking the correct courses.

Visit your online help and support centre, AskAuckland

Doing a double major with Physics

If you choose to do a double major in your BSc, we recommend the following subjects to complement Physics: Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Science, Environmental Science, Geophysics, Mathematics and Statistics.

Preparing for your Physics major or specialisation

Some students will feel more prepared for our Physics courses if they have already studied some science subjects in high school. Find out which school subjects will help you feel prepared by reading our Subject guide for school students.

To enter the main pathway for a degree with a Physics major, you should pass the Level 3 Mechanics and Waves NCEA modules in Physics, supplemented by the Differentiation and/or Integration modules in Maths. 

Excellence in NCEA modules may qualify you for an accelerated path in Physics.  Entering University Physics at the “novice" level requires proficiency or aptitude for mathematical analysis and reasoning at NCEA Level 1 (preferably 2), stepping up to Level 3 during the first year if further Physics is contemplated.

Use our NCEA and CIE Physics pathway diagrams to make sure you choose the right first-year courses for you. 

Where can undergraduate study in Physics take you?

Many avenues open up to graduates with training in Physics. Industry, in particular, takes many of our graduates.

Activities related to Physics jobs

  • Working with electronic and computer applications
  • Addressing environmental and safety issues (such as noise control, radiation monitoring)
  • Materials development
  • Patent consulting
  • Production process and control
  • Research in Crown Research Institutes
  • Teaching
  • Weather forecasting

Further study options

  • Bachelor of Science (Honours)
  • Master of Science
  • Postgraduate Diploma in 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

Student Hubs 

Visit your hubs for help and advice on any aspect of your studies and life at University.

The Student Hubs are your physical gateway to Waipapa Taumata Rau | the University of Auckland. 

The Student Hubs services are available seven days a week at the City, Grafton, Epsom and Tai Tonga campuses and six days a week at Tai Tokerau, with friendly staff available to provide you with advice on any aspect of your studies and life at the University.

Find out more