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About Physics

Physics, which deals with matter and energy and the interactions between the two, allows us to understand phenomena that take place around us and in the universe. Physical laws help us perceive our world. Some physicists use these principles in theoretical areas, such as the nature of time and the origin of the universe; others apply their physics knowledge to the development of advanced materials, electronic and optical devices and medical equipment. Physicists design and perform experiments with lasers, cyclotrons, telescopes, mass spectrometers, and other equipment. Based on observations and analysis, they attempt to discover and explain laws describing the forces of nature, such as gravity, electromagnetism, and nuclear interactions. Physicists also find ways to apply physical laws and theories to problems in nuclear energy, electronics, optics, materials, communications, aerospace technology, navigation equipment, and medical instrumentation. Most physicists work in research and development. For example, basic research in solid-state physics led to the development of transistors and, then, of integrated circuits used in computers. Physicists also design research equipment. For example, lasers designed by physicists are used in surgery. Although physics research may require extensive experimentation in laboratories, research physicists also spend time in offices planning, recording, analyzing, and reporting on research.

Program Details

The Major program is intended for students who wish to learn physics as part of a general education or combine physics with other disciplines to pursue careers in other areas such as science journalism. The program combined with proper electives is suitable as pre-training for a professional degree in fields such as architecture, commerce, education, law and medicine. The honours program is more specialized and provides a solid preparation for those intending to proceed to graduate school in physics.


Application of theoretical concepts and scientific principles to unexplained or novel situations Observation and interpretation of relationships between factors Usage of computer programming to create complex models or solutions Application of logic, imagination, judgement, and abstract thinking to solve real-world problems Quantification of complex calculations and statistical analysis Communication of complex ideas through advanced technical writing Usage of a wide range of advanced instruments, machines, and lab equipment

Programs offered

  • Major or Honours, Physics
  • Honours, Biophysics
  • Combined Honours, Physics and Astronomy
  • Combined Major, Computer Science and Physics
  • Combined Honours, Physics and another science subject
  • Combined Honours, Chemical Physics
  • Combined Honours, Physics and Mathematics
  • Co-op


Career Options

With an undergraduate degree

Acoustic emissions technician Computer engineer Data analyst Laboratory assistant Particle accelerator operations analyst Research assistant Science writer Systems analyst Technical writer Test engineer

With additional study

Aerodynamicis Avionics instrument mechanic Biophysicist Doctor Engineer Fluids physicist Forensic scientist Geophysicist Hydrologist Lawyer, technology specialist Medical physicist Nanoscientist Oceanographer Optometrist Physical chemist Physicist Radiographer Seismologist Sound engineer Teacher/Professor

UBC Science Physics Graduates Work As

MSc Candidate in Astrophysics, University of Tokyo PhD Candidate in Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology Associate Attorney, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP Software Engineer, Google

Related Professional Groups

More Career Resources

Honours: First-Year Requirements

Honours (0344): Physics (PHYS)
  • Science honours requirements, and a minimum of 68% in all MATH 1** courses (except MATH 120 and 121, which require 60%). At least 68% in all PHYS 1** courses.
  • AND
  • SCIE 001
  • Science honours requirements, and a minimum of 68% in all MATH 1** courses (except MATH 120 and 121, which require 60%). At least 68% in all PHYS 1** courses.
  • AND
  • MATH 101 or MATH 121
  • or 6 transfer credits of MATH 1** (3 credits of differential calculus and 3 credits of integral calculus)
  • AND
  • One of PHYS 108 or 118 AND PHYS 119
  • or both of PHYS 158, 159
  • or 6 transfer credits of PHYS 1** including a lab component

Musqueam First Nation land acknowledegement

UBC Science acknowledges that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm.

Learn more: Musqueam First Nation

Faculty of Science

Office of the Dean, Earth Sciences Building
2178–2207 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC Canada
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