Study Physics at UBC

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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.

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


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Career options in Physics