Professor and Head of the Department
J. Whitehead

Programs leading to the degree of Master of Science in Physics and in Physical Oceanography are offered to both full and part-time students. Because Oceanography is multidisciplinary in nature, undergraduate students who plan to undertake Physical Oceanography studies are urged to consult the faculty member in charge of Physical Oceanography programs at their earliest opportunity, in order to ensure the appropriateness of their undergraduate course selections. The degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Physics is offered through both full-time and part-time study in Atomic and Molecular Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, and Physical Oceanography. The following Departmental Regulations are supplementary to the General Regulations governing the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees. A thorough familiarity with the latter Regulations should be regarded as the prerequisite to further reading in this section.

The Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography compiles, and regularly reviews, a brochure which contains reasonably detailed descriptions of currently active research projects, as well as a comprehensive listing of recent research publications, and other material which may be of interest to prospective graduate students.


1. Admission to a M.Sc. program in the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography is normally restricted to candidates holding an Honours B.Sc. degree in Physics. However, depending on background and area of specialization and with particular reference to Physical Oceanography, other Baccalaureate degrees in science, applied science or mathematics, may be accepted.

2. A program of study for the M.Sc. degree in Physics or Physical Oceanography shall normally include a minimum of 12 graduate credit hours. However, depending on the student’s background and area of specialization, more or fewer graduate and/or undergraduate courses may be required.

3. Except with the special permission of the Department and the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies, a candidate may not take any courses in addition to those approved for his/her M.Sc. program.

4. Before submission of the thesis to the School of Graduate Studies for examination, the student must present a seminar on the topic of his/her thesis research.


In accordance with Senate’s Policy Regarding Inactive Courses, courses which have not been offered in the previous three academic years and which are not scheduled to be offered in the current academic year have been removed from the following listing. For information about any of these inactive courses, please contact the Head of the Department.

A selection of the following graduate courses will be offered to meet the requirements of candidates, as far as the resources of the Department will allow:

6000. Condensed Matter Physics I
6001. Condensed Matter Physics II
6003. Path Integral Techniques in Condensed Matter Physics
6010-19. Special Topics in Condensed Matter Physics
6060-69. Special Topics in Interdisciplinary Areas
6200. Nonlinear Dynamics
6308. Ocean Dynamics I
6309. Ocean Dynamics II
6310. Physical Oceanography
6313. Physical Fluid Dynamics
6315. Polar Oceanography   
6316. Ocean Measurements and Data Analysis
6317. Ocean Acoustics
6318. Numerical Modeling
6319. Climate Dynamics
6320. Turbulence
6321. Coastal Oceanography
6322. Stratified Fluids
6323. Stability Theory
6324. Models in Ocean Ecology
6360-69 (excluding 6363). Special Topics in Physical Oceanography
6363. Laboratory Experiments in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
6400. Statistical Mechanics
6402. Theory of Phase Transitions
6502. Electrodynamics
6721. Molecular Spectroscopy
6760-69. Special Topics in Atomic and Molecular Physics
6800. Group Theory
6810-19. Special Topics in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics
6850. Quantum Mechanics I
6851. Quantum Mechanics II
6910-19. Special Topics in Experimental and Applied Physics



Present Course Former Course Present Course Former Course
6000 6050 6318 6304
6001 6051 6321 6303
6002 6822 6321 6304
6003 6820 6323 6303
6200 6821 6402 6401
6308 6312 6403 6401
6309 6311 6403 6824
6313 6301 6502 6500
6316 6302 6502 6501
6317 6823 6722 6790

Members of the department carry out research in several areas of experimental and theoretical physics, including atomic and molecular physics, condensed matter physics, physical oceanography, theoretical geophysics and applied nuclear physics. In atomic and molecular physics, there are experimental programs in collision-induced infrared absorption spectroscopy, electron emission spectroscopy of simple molecules, molecular ions and free radicals, laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy, and theoretical work on atomic and molecular collisions. The work in condensed matter physics includes experimental programs in solid state nuclear magnetic resonance on systems of biophysical interest, Raman spectroscopy of lipid bilayers and membranes, studies of phase transitions using Brillouin and Raman spectroscopy, studies of instabilities and pattern formation in simple fluid dynamical systems, and spectroscopic studies of molecular crystals. Theoretical condensed matter physics research involves studies of magnetism, superconductivity, and the statistical mechanics of polymers and lipid bilayers. The physical oceanography group carries out field and laboratory research on several projects which take advantage of Newfoundland's unique oceanographic environment, using acoustic and other remote sensing techniques. These include studies of circulation on the Newfoundland and Labrador shelves, Labrador current dynamics, fjord dynamics, submarine canyons and sediment transport dynamics in the nearshore zone and on the shelf. Theoretical oceanographic studies involve the modelling of ocean circulation, gravity wave phenomena and other aspects of ocean dynamics. Research in theoretical geophysics is concentrated on whole-Earth dynamics, with special emphasis on the physics of the liquid core (the Earth's "third ocean") as inferred from its wave spectrum and the associated momentum transfer to the deformable solid parts of the Earth. In nuclear physics, research is done on the atmospheric concentrations of radioactive elements and on dosimetry for medical applications.

NOTE: For Geophysics, see EARTH SCIENCES

Last modified on June 4, 2003 by R. Bruce

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