Physics is an exciting part of science and technology. It seeks to explain the behaviour of everything from the basic nature of nuclear matter to the galaxies of the universe. An appreciation of the laws of nature which govern the behaviour of matter and radiation enhances our insight into the physical world around us.

Areas of study

The Department of Physics has wide research interests and operates well-equipped laboratories in laser physics, atom trapping and geophysics. Lasers are used to study ultra-fast processes and the fundamental properties of matter. Recently, a new research laboratory was commissioned to enable the study of ultra-cold atoms prepared by laser cooling. Temperatures of a few microkelvin above absolute zero have been obtained. The department also has laboratories specialising in the development of novel optical systems for information processing and measurement.
Fundamental nuclear physics is pursued in collaboration with Australian National University. A Pixel X-Ray detector system is being developed in collaboration with CERN, the particle physics accelerator laboratory in Geneva. Astrophysics research includes the use of the MOA telescope at Mt John, Canterbury - the world’s largest telescope dedicated to gravitational microlensing - as well as several other telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope. Geophysics activities involve both laboratory and field programmes, with the latter including research operations at sea and at field sites as widespread as Norfolk Island, the Antarctic and Mt Ruapehu during its eruption.

You can study Physics in the following programmes:

What you will learn

Studying Physics will give you an understanding of the nature of matter combined with training in experimental methods and the mathematical analysis of physical processes.

Career opportunities

A wide range of career opportunities exists for physics graduates. Industry takes many of our graduates, particularly in areas such as process and control of production, electronic and computer applications, materials development, and environmental and safety issues (such as noise control and radiation monitoring). Other common occupations are weather forecasting, patent consulting, research in Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) and high school teaching. We liaise closely with local industry and CRIs and are actively involved in the placement of our graduates.

More information

For more information see Physics.