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Major: Physics

Major Details



Department of Physics and Astronomy
Faculty of Science and Engineering

This major must be completed as part of an award. The general requirements for the award must be satisfied in order to graduate.

Requirements for the Major:

Completion of a minimum of 36 credit points including the following prescribed units:

Credit points

100 level

6 cp from
Electric and Magnetic Interactions (3)
Modern Mechanics (3)
or 6 cp from
Physics IA (3)
Physics IB (3)
Mathematics IA (Advanced) (3)
Mathematics IA (3)
Mathematics IB (Advanced) (3)
Mathematics IB (3)

200 level

Classical and Quantum Oscillations and Waves (3)
Electromagnetism and Thermodynamics (3)
Mathematics IIA (3)
Mathematical Techniques (3)
Mathematics IIB (3)

300 level

Professional Physics (3)
Classical Electrodynamics (3)
6cp from
General Relativity (3)
Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics (3)
Advanced Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Optics (3)
Optical Physics (3)
Condensed Matter and Nanoscale Physics (3)


Units marked with a C are Capstone units.
Units marked with a P are PACE units.
Additional Information
Overview and Aims of the Program Physics is the quantitative study of Nature at all scales, from elementary particles to the large space-time structure of the Universe. It encompasses both the search for the most fundamental laws of Nature down to the subatomic level, and the emergent phenomena in complex systems, such as material or biological systems. Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines, and it remains today both an exciting field at the frontier of knowledge and a fundamental underpinning of all science and technology.

An undergraduate degree in physics is generally recognised to be good training for a broad range of careers. It not only prepares students for graduate studies in physics and astrophysics, but when combined with appropriate courses in other disciplines it provides excellent preparation for a career, including biophysics, chemistry, engineering, geophysics, industrial research, finance, teaching and education, policy, medicine or law.

Our program provides a solid foundation in physics and mathematics and introduces to the current research. It is taught by is taught by the leading experts in biophysics, condensed matter, mathematical physics, relativity and quantum information.
Graduate Capabilities

The Graduate Capabilities Framework articulates the fundamentals that underpin all of Macquarie’s academic programs. It expresses these as follows:

Cognitive capabilities
(K) discipline specific knowledge and skills
(T) critical, analytical and integrative thinking
(P) problem solving and research capability
(I) creative and innovative

Interpersonal or social capabilities
(C) effective communication
(E) engaged and ethical local and global citizens
(A) socially and environmentally active and responsible

Personal capabilities
(J) capable of professional and personal judgement and initiative
(L) commitment to continuous learning

Program Learning Outcomes By the end of this program it is anticipated you should be able to:

1. demonstrate knowledge of fundamental physics concepts and principles (K)
2. demonstrate knowledge of core mathematical concepts and methods (K)
3. evaluate the role of theoretical models, numerical and empirical studies in development of physics knowledge (K, T, J)
4. demonstrate knowledge of statistical principles behind physics (K)
5. solve physical problems by identifying and applying core physical principles and relevant mathematical and computational techniques (K, T, P, I)
6. design an activity or experiment to test a physical hypothesis (K, T, P, I)
7. use a range of measurement tools and methodologies to collect data (K, T, P)
8. use a range of data analysis tools to analyse measurements with due regard to uncertainties (K, T, P)
9. appreciate and critique science-based arguments and communicate physical ideas using appropriate language and conventions (T, P, C)
10. demonstrate capacity for effective, responsible and safe work practices as an individual or in a team (K, E, A, J)
11. exhibit intellectual integrity and practice ethical conduct (E).
Learning and Teaching Methods In this program you will build your fundamental technical skills in experimental and theoretical physics and develop understanding of its methodology, relationship with other disciplines and technological applications. Most of the units are comprised of three structured learning activities: lectures, tutorials and guided laboratory exercises.

Lectures are where theoretical ideas and experimental and mathematical techniques are introduced and illustrated by a range of illustrative examples. They provide opportunities for discussion and active engagement, and as your studies progress will draw not only on textbooks and online learning materials, but involve exposure and interaction with the current research.

Tutorials demonstrate concrete applications of techniques introduced in lectures, and also provide a training ground for students to apply their knowledge. Tutorials typically involve a mixture of individual and group work with guidance and assistance from the tutors.

Laboratory work is an indispensable part of physics education. You will acquire familiarity with experimental methods and practices that both illustrate the theoretical concepts that are presented in lectures and facilitate development of practical research skills. Laboratory work is the first setting where you learn to work collaboratively, and preparation of reports from practical exercises provides you with valuable training in communicating scientific results.

Mastering effective communication is a major component of all learning activities. Apart from the laboratory reports and problem-solving assignments you will prepare oral and written presentations and/or essays of their research and study projects.

From the first year you will be engaged in a collaborative work, both in tutorials and laboratories. With your study progression you become exposed to less structured activities, such as individual or group-based research projects, and formal and informal presentations. There are many instances of blended learning activities, including a combination of online and face-to-face modes, or group and/or one-to-one activities are combined.

A feature of Macquarie University degrees is the inclusion of People, Planet and Participation units. During your study you will take one of the designated People units (in the areas of social sciences, business or arts) one Planet unit (experiencing a different area of science) and a Participation unit, which provides opportunity for community engagement.

Toward the end of the program the Capstone unit of study allows you to integrate your skills and knowledge, applied to real-life problems.

An annual careers night is held where graduates of the program return to share their experiences with current students preparing to go out into industry, academic or government employment.
Assessment Assessment tasks are intended both to measure individual progress and give feedback. They are based on the topics of the units of study and are provided in two forms: whilst you are working on a task and once you have completed a task. Both forms of feedback are important as they provide you with information and guidance on your development and progress.

At least three different assessment methods are used in each unit. They include problem solving, laboratory work and reports, oral presentations, essays, active participation in lectures and/or tutorials, online and in-class quizzes, individual and group projects. Formal examinations are part of the assessment of the majority of units and involve solving of problems appropriate for the scope and level of the unit.

The assessment in most physics units includes regular assessment tasks, such as the submission of weekly/biweekly home assignments and/or in-class tests, designed to assist you in your learning development.

Standards and criteria for coursework, what is assessed and how it is assessed, are contained in each unit guide or may be made available during classes. Assessment is undertaken by academic staff, demonstrators and tutors. In some cases peer assessment will contribute to the grade. In some units, a component of the final grade will be determined by the assessment of work placement supervisors or guest lecturers.

Where group work is involved, a self-reflection and peer assessment/feedback in the form of contribution to the assessment task is incorporated into the requirements of the assessment so that your individual contribution can be identified.
Recognition of Prior Learning

Macquarie University may recognise prior formal, informal and non-formal learning for the purpose of granting credit towards, or admission into, a program. The recognition of these forms of learning is enabled by the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Policy (see and its associated Procedures and Guidelines. The RPL pages contain information on how to apply, links to registers, and the approval processes for recognising prior learning for entry or credit. 

Domestic Students
For undergraduate RPL information visit
For domestic postgraduate RPL information visit

International Students
For RPL information visit

Support for Learning

Macquarie University aspires to be an inclusive and supportive community of learners where all students are given the opportunity to meet their academic and personal goals. The University offers a comprehensive range of free and accessible student support services which include academic advice, counselling and psychological services, advocacy services and welfare advice, careers and employment, disability services and academic skills workshops amongst others. There is also a bulk billing medical service located on campus.

Further information can be found at

Campus Wellbeing contact details:
Phone: +61 2 9850 7497

Program Standards and Quality

The program is subject to an ongoing comprehensive process of quality review in accordance with a pre-determined schedule that complies with the Higher Education Standards Framework. The review is overseen by Macquarie University's peak academic governance body, the Academic Senate and takes into account feedback received from students, staff and external stakeholders.

Graduate Destinations and Employability Successful completion of a degree in Physics and Astronomy is a demonstration of capacity to observe, analyse and interpret complex situations, and to solve a wide range of problems. The graduates may pursue a career in physical sciences in academia (after post-graduate studies) or industry (often after post-graduate studies). Varieties of specialized fields of physics find their application in electro-optics, telecom, mining, semiconductor, aerospace, biomedical industries and national defence.

Outside the immediate field of studies the graduates [in combination with other professional studies/training] are employed in secondary school teaching, law (particularly patent law), finance, data analysis and applications, public policy development, medical physics and imaging, etc.
Assessment Regulations

This program is subject to Macquarie University regulations, including but not limited to those specified in the Assessment Policy, Academic Honesty Policy, the Final Examination Policy and relevant University Rules. For all approved University policies, procedures, guidelines and schedules visit

Accreditation Australian Institute of physics, every five years; last accreditation: October 2013

2017 Unit Information

When offered:
S1 Day
Permission of Executive Dean of Faculty
HSC Chinese, CHN113, CHN148