Campus: St. John's Faculty: Faculty of Science
Department: Physics and Physical Oceanography Honours available: Yes
Degree(s): Bachelor of science; Joint arts and science degree
Length: Four years
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Through physics we attempt to understand natural phenomena in the world around us, ranging from the very small atomic nuclei and elementary particles to the very large scale of the universe. Physics is concerned with how fundamental laws influence observed phenomena which might include anything from batting a baseball to rocket dynamics. It includes fundamental theories such as those of dynamics, relativity, electricity, magnetism, thermodynamics, nuclear and elementary particles, and quantum mechanics.

Physics at Memorial

Many of our undergraduates are actively involved in physics research programs. This experience provides both summer employment and an excellent preparation for a career in industrial or university research.

The Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography is a member of the Atlantic Computational Excellence Network (ACEnet) for high performance computing and hosts several multi-processor machines locally. Facilities at most other universities in Atlantic Canada are linked by ACEnet’s Access Grid.

The Ocean Observatory at the Bonne May Marine Station includes an underwater station for the observation of water properties and marine ecology. The station is operated by Memorial University and the Gros Morne Co-operating Association.

In addition to the major, minor and honours options in physics, joint programs are offered in:

  • applied mathematics/physics (B.Sc. major and honours)
  • biochemistry/physics (B.Sc. honours)
  • chemistry/physics (B.Sc. honours)
  • computer science/physics (B.Sc. major and honours)
  • Earth sciences/physics (B.Sc. major and honours)
  • geophysics/physical oceanography (B.Sc. honours)

Physics majors and honours students have the option to complete a minor in applied science (process engineering) through the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. 

Admission requirements

You may apply for admission into the Faculty of Science by indicating bachelor of science as your program of choice on the undergraduate application for admission.

Direct entry into the Faculty of Science from high school is subject to meeting the general admission requirements for Memorial University, including appropriate courses in mathematics and a laboratory science.

Admission to the major

In order to declare the physics major, students must complete 30 credit hours (10 courses) which must include:

  • six credit hours in critical reading and writing (CRW) courses, including at least three credit hours in English
  • six credit hours in mathematics
  • six credit hours in physics
  • six credit hours in a second science subject, other than mathematics and physics

Upon completion of these courses, students should contact the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography to declare their major.

Sample first year

Wondering what courses you would take in your first year? Check out a sample program of suggested courses for physics students.

Sample courses beyond first year

PHYS 2151 - Stellar Astronomy and Astrophysics
PHYS 2300 - Introduction to Physical Oceanography
PHYS 3340 - Principles of Environmental Physics
PHYS 4852 - Quantum Information and Computing

Career opportunities

A bachelor of science degree, with a major in physics, prepares students for a variety of careers including:

  • medical imaging technician
  • meteorologist
  • teacher
  • technical consulting
  • financial analyst
  • radiology and radiation safety

Note: some of these careers may call for supplementary education or preparation in the form of graduate studies, experiential learning or professional courses and exams.