Theoretical Physics

Course Information

BSc (Hons) (NFQ Level 8)

Full Time - Undergraduate Studies

CAO Code: DN200 MPG
CAO Points Range 2015: 510 - 625
Length of Course: 4 Years
Average Intake: 402

Leaving Certificate:

Passes in six subjects including English, Irish, Mathematics (Min O3/H6 in LC or equivalent), one laboratory science subject (Min O3/H6 in LC or equivalent.) Applied Mathematics or Geography may be used instead of a laboratory science subject) & two other recognised subjects.

You must obtain a minimum of Grade H5 in two subjects and a minimum of Grade O6/H7 in the remaining four subjects.

Click below for equivalent entry requirements information for:

Why is this course for me?

The UCD Theoretical Physics degree puts emphasis on the mathematical description of physical phenomena, providing a unified picture of the fundamental laws of nature. It’s ideally suited to students who enjoy studying Mathematics and Physics for their Leaving Certificate. Insights from Theoretical Physics are driving our understanding of nature at all scales, from the origin of large-scale structures in the universe to the Planck scale, where our current understanding of space and time breaks down. The degree comprehensively covers Theoretical Physics while developing your knowledge and expertise in problem solving, using analytical and computational techniques, which have wide application in, for example, biophysics, econophysics, quantum physics, relativity and nanoscience.

Career & Graduate Study Opportunities

Theoretical Physics graduates can choose to develop careers in:

  • Academic and government research institutions
  • Energy technologies
  • Information and communication technology
  • Advanced materials [e.g. semiconductor industry]
  • Management consulting, stock market and financial risk analysis
  • Climate change and environmental impact analysis
  • Second- and third-level education

Our Theoretical Physics graduates are well prepared for further research and have successfully completed PhDs in MIT, Caltech, Harvard, Princeton and Cambridge, as well as in UCD.

What Will I Study

This is a sample pathway for a degree in Theoretical Physics. Topics include electromagnetism, mathematical modelling, mechanics and special relativity, vector calculus, statistical physics, fluid mechanics, computational science, quantum mechanics and nuclear physics, general relativity, and statistical physics.

First Year

  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • Optional Science modules
  • Elective modules

Second Year

  • Theoretical Physics
  • + 1 Other Science Subject
  • Elective modules

Third Year

  • Theoretical Physics (includes Quantum Physics and Electrodynamics, Applied & Computational Mathematics and Mathematics)
  • Elective modules

Fourth Year

  • Theoretical Physics (includes General Relativity, Quantum Field Theory, Statistical and Particle Physics, Applied & Computational Mathematics, Theoretical Physics project)

All Science courses are full time, with many student timetables running from 9.00am to 5.00pm or later. Depending on the subject choices, a weekly timetable can include lectures, practicals and tutorials.

Assessment varies with each module but may comprise continuous assessment of practicals, written exams and online learning activities.

International Study Opportunities

Students can apply to study for a semester or year in third year in a number of universities worldwide including:

  • University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
  • San Jose State University, California, USA
  • University of Melbourne, Australia


“The subjects I most enjoyed at school were Maths, Physics and Chemistry. DN200 Science offered me the chance to study all three in First Year. Although I enjoyed the practical aspects of Chemistry and the challenge of Mathematics, I enjoyed Applied Mathematics and Physics more. However, I found that I couldn’t decide between the two of them. Theoretical Physics has allowed me to keep and combine aspects from both disciplines, with a wide choice of modules including thermodynamics, computational science, biophysics, and astrophysics. Theoretical Physics has a high emphasis on group work, which I had direct experience with working in a computational biophysical chemistry lab while studying abroad in California during my Third Year. This year, I hope to begin a PhD at the University of Edinburgh, modelling a variety of physical and biophysical phenomena.”

Eoin Ó Laighléis, Student