Studying Physics at York propels you into a challenging and exciting learning atmosphere at one of Canada’s leading Physics departments. At York you will have a unique opportunity to work with committed and innovative teachers to learn physics and actively test theoretical models in York’s well-equipped experimental laboratories. Studying Physics at York prepares you to master a full range of physics concepts and applications and to tackle scientific and technological problems at a high level in research and industry.
Physics is the most fundamental of science disciplines. It is also the most exact science. Using the language of mathematics, Physics equips us to create a complete model of the natural world at scales ranging from the astronomical to the atomic, quantum, nuclear, and particle levels. Combining mathematical modelling with a strong experimental physics component in an intensive research environment enables students at York to explore Physics on all scales and develop valuable problem-solving skills which prepare graduates for high-level research and professional careers.
York’s Physics program offers rigorous but flexible program options, offering four-year Honours B.Sc. or three-year Bachelor B.Sc. degree studies. Interested students may pursue Double Major programs combining Physics with other studies (for example, in Applied Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science, or Biology), or Major/Minor programs combining a Major or a Minor in Physics with another program in Science & Engineering or another Faculty at York. The four-year Physics programs (offering specializations in Physics, Applied Physics, or Astronomy) are designed to prepare graduates for careers in research and industry, while the three-year B.Sc. program offers a less intensive program of study while still providing a solid Physics education for graduates who hope to qualify for entrance into professional graduate programs, including medicine. All Physics program options at York develop students’ analytical skills, relying heavily on applied mathematics and constructing and testing theoretical models in directed experiments. The Physics program at York also emphasizes scientific report writing and presentation skills as an essential component of research and professional work in Physics.
Facilities and Opportunities
Physics students at York enjoy access to dedicated professors and a teaching and learning environment of the highest quality, including resources like symbolic computing environments and a growing list of web-based tutorials. Departmental awards and scholarships reward high-achieving students, and graduating students routinely win external grants which support them in diverse areas of graduate research and study. Interested undergraduate Physics students have the opportunity to participate in world-class research projects led by our faculty members in fields as diverse as atomic and molecular physics, laser physics, elementary particle and subatomic physics, and astronomy/astrophysics. Our well-equipped laboratories offer supervised and independent work using lasers, computer-interfaced instruments, and other technological equipment and enable Physics students to directly test theoretical models as a routine component of their Physics education. Physics students at York also encounter well-developed Physics research groups in areas like experimental high energy (particle) physics and experimental laser physics, as well as the Centre for Research in Earth and Space Science (CRESS), in which they may interact with graduate students and faculty researchers. Student life is further enhanced by the York Physics Society and the Student Ombuds Service, both of which offer peer support.
If you major in Physics your courses in first year will probably be:
• Linear Algebra
• Computer Programming
• a general education course
In second year you will probably take:
• Classical Mechanics
• Electricity and Magnetism
• Relativity and Modern Physics
• Optics and Spectra
• Experimental Physics
• Computational Methods for Scientists and Engineers
• Multivariate & Vector Calculus
• Differential Equations
• a general education course
If you choose to specialize (after second year), it could be in one of the following areas:
• Applied Physics
• Space Science
Courses in your upper years include:
• Modern Physics
• Statistical and Thermal Physics
• Quantum Mechanics
• Experiments in Modern Physics
• Experimental Techniques in Laser Physics
• Elementary Particle Physics
• Solid State Physics
• Atomic and Molecular Physics
• Physics of the Space Environment
• Atom Trapping
• Physics Project (student/professor research collaboration)
Career options for Physics majors include:
• Research or research support at government laboratories
• Industrial Physicist – telecommunications (fibre optics), biotech industries, opto-electronics (lasers), aerospace
• Applied Computing
• Mathematical and Computer Modelling
• Virtual Reality and Data Visualization
• Advanced Engineering fields (e.g., biomedical, aerospace, nanotechnology)
• Medical Physics – hospitals, biotechnology industries
• Finance or Consulting (applied statistical analysis)
• Postgraduate Studies/Academic Career
• Education – elementary, high school, college, university
Technology Internship Program
Qualified Physics students have the opportunity to participate in the innovative Technology Internship Program, which provides paid work experience. These internships take place between third and fourth year and range from four to sixteen months. Unlike a 4-month co-op placement, the internship is designed to allow you to participate in more significant projects in the workplace. Assistance is provided in placing students in internships after the completion of third year. York’s internships provide valuable professional experience, enabling our graduates to move more easily into exciting careers.
Research Excellence in Physics
Research excellence is at the heart of our Physics department. Professor Wendy Taylor’s work provides one example of some exciting research currently being done at York. For over two thousand years, humans have wondered what the world is made of and how it behaves. Particle physicists have established that the universe is composed of fundamental particles called quarks and leptons which interact with one another through four fundamental forces – the strong force, the weak force, electromagnetism and gravity. However, this simplified view of the natural world is incomplete. Particle physicists continue to search for new forms of matter, new forces of interaction, and a complete understanding of physical laws.
As Canada Research Chair in Experimental Particle Physics, Dr. Taylor studies the b quark. The mass and lifespan of the b quark (the second heaviest quark) make it an excellent tool for probing the subatomic interactions between matter and forces. Dr. Taylor is conducting this research as a member of an international collaboration which is engaged in the collection and study of proton-antiproton collision data at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Chicago (Fermilab). In addition to her studies of the b quark, Dr. Taylor helps design data collection electronics for this international project. Her inquiry promises important contributions to the advancement of the understanding of the laws of nature at their most fundamental level.
Dr. Taylor is a member of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (particle accelerator), that began operation in 2008 at the CERN Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Taylor’s contributions will ensure York continues to be at the forefront of scientific discovery in this important field both nationally and internationally.