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

From 2019 you can choose whether 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.

If you’re beginning your BSc major in 2019 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

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

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