Theoretical Physics

BSc (Hons) (NFQ Level 8)

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Curricular information is subject to change.

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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, social physics, quantum physics, relativity and nanoscience.

Course Pathways
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 module

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
  • UCD Physics offers research experience to undergraduates

Fourth Year

  • Theoretical Physics (theoretical physics project, core physics, and options including General Relativity, Quantum Field Theory, Applied & Computational Mathematics, Statistical and Particle Physics).

Timetables & Assessment

Each student will have their own timetable based on their individual module selection. This is a full time course and classes may include lectures, practicals and tutorials, depending on the subjects. Students will also be expected to study independently (autonomous student learning). Assessment varies with each module but may comprise continuous assessment of practicals, written exams and online learning activities.

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You may be interested in the following Blog posts: How my degree changed my perception of scientists

International Study Opportunities

Students can apply to study for a trimester 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
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.

Other Entry Routes

“In First Year, I had the opportunity to sample a number of different areas before eventually choosing Theoretical Physics as my degree. The combination of problem solving, mathematics and programming helped me make my decision. I travelled to CERN in Geneva with the Physics Society which was a great experience. I also regularly go on surf trips with UCD Surf Club around Ireland. I travelled with the club to Taghazout in Morocco on their annual foreign trip where I had an amazing time. Since my graduation, I have been working as a Technology Consultant within Ernst & Young which gave me the opportunity to work on a large variety of projects and learn about how technology can be used to solve problems for various clients.”

Ian Smith, Graduate

Contact Information

Associate Professor Vladimir Lobaskin, UCD School of Physics
Professor Adrian Ottewill, UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics
Belfield, Dublin 4.

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