Theoretical Physics (PPS1)

Theoretical Physics provides a unified description of the fundamental laws of Nature. Using advanced mathematics you learn to understand and predict the behaviour of physical systems ranging from the subatomic to astronomical scales.

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This program provides a positive experience of physics and encourages students to foster and maintain an intellectual curiosity in the discipline, specifically in the area of theoretical physics. We encourage/educate our students to become active, lifelong and autonomous learners with good prospects of employment in economic sectors requiring analytical skills or for further study of the subject. Our students will become well grounded in the fundamentals of physics with an appreciation of more specialised knowledge and the current frontiers of research. Courses in applied and computational mathematics complement physics courses. Our learning environment emphasises laboratory work at all stages, combining in-class, project and problem-solving work including data analysis and programming. Our students will be imbued with professional values including scientific integrity and ethical behaviour, and the ability to communicate complex information effectively. We deepen the mathematical training, allowing students to describe the physical world from the smallest to the largest scales using mathematics and theoretical models. Assessment is based on individual work, group work, work in the laboratory, project work including student presentation and written report.


1 - On successful completion of the programme, students will have acquired a good understanding of the core of physics (as defined by the Institue of Physics degree accreditation document), and students will appreciate the current boundaries of scientific knowledge.
2 - Students will be able to tackle problems in physics and formulate an appropriate solution
3 - Students will be able to use mathematics to describe the physical world
4 - Students will be able to plan, execute and report the results of an experiment or investigation
5 - Students will be able to compare results critically with predictions from theory
6 - Students will have acquired communications skills
7 - Students will have acquired analytical skills
8 - Students will have acquired IT skills
9 - Students will have acquired personal skills, the ability to work effectively both independently and as part of a team, interact constructively with other people, and show leadership in their area of expertise.
10 - Students will have acquired ethical behaviour, including critical thinking, understanding of arguments and consequences, and scientific integrity
11 - Students will be flexible, able to adapt and contribute to the theoretical and modelling aspects in any research and development team.
Approved Additional Standards for Continuation in undergraduate degree programmes in Science (all majors):

Students who return failing grades in a semester amounting to 15 credits, or more, will be identified under the UCD Continuation and Readmission Policy. Students whose rate of progression and performance over two academic sessions (2 years) is deemed unacceptable will be referred to the Academic Council Committee on Student Conduct and Capacity for exclusion from the programme.

As Stages 3 and 4 have the most dynamic components of the programme, and the material studied previously may no longer be relevant, a student who has been away from the programme for a significant period should be required to register again to Stage 3. The upper limit for completion of Stages 3 and 4 should be six years, if they choose to do 120 credits with 20 in each year.
Using advanced mathematics, you will learn to understand and predict the behaviour of physical systems ranging from the subatomic to astronomical scales.

The Theoretical Physics programme puts emphasis on the mathematical description of physical phenomena and provides a unified description of the fundamental laws of nature. The degree comprehensively covers Theoretical Physics and includes areas such as Quantum Mechanics, Condensed Matter Theory, Special and General Relativity Theory and Cosmology, Quantum Field Theory, Statistical Mechanics and Theoretical Astrophysics.

The programme offers knowledge and experience in problem-solving using analytical and numerical techniques, which have wide application in, for example, biophysics and econophysics.
STAGES 1 & 2
This course provides you with an introduction to all the major areas of Theoretical Physics including Relativity Theory, Quantum Mechanics, Atomic Physics, Nuclear Physics and Computational Physics.

STAGES 3 & 4
Advanced topics are covered in the final two stages. These include:
- General Relativity
- Electromagnetic Theory
- Quantum Gravity
- Quantum Field Theory
- Statistical Mechanics
- Theoretical Astrophysics
- Fluid Mechanics
- High Energy Physics
- Condensed Matter Physics
You may apply to study abroad for either a semester or a year through the Erasmus programme or on a non-EU exchange.

UCD has over 200 Erasmus partners in Europe and an increasing number of non-EU exchange agreements with universities in the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and elsewhere.

Please visit the Erasmus section by clicking on the International Office link at the top of this page.
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.
  • Professor Adrian Ottewill UCD School of Mathematical Sciences Science Education & Research Centre Belfield, Dublin 4 Tel: +353 1 716 2567 Email: adrian.ottewill@ucd.ie Web: www.ucd.ie/horizons Dr Hans-Benjamin Braun UCD School of Physics Science Education & Research Centre Belfield, Dublin 4 Tel: +353 1 716 2566/2564 Email: beni.braun@ucd.ie Web: www.ucd.ie/horizons
    Stage 3

    Students take 8 core modules. To complete 60 credits for Stage 3, students may select 10 credits from elective modules or alternatively, students can take additional modules from the option list below.

    Stage 4

    Students must take four core modules and a total of 35 optional credits. Students who take ACM40750 must also take ACM40090.

    Module ID Module Title Trimester Credits
    Stage 3 Core Modules
         
    PHYC30320 Advanced Laboratory for Theoretical Physics I 2 Trimester duration (Aut-Spr)

    10

    ACM30010 Analytical Mechanics Autumn

    5

    ACM30220 Partial Differential Equations Autumn

    5

    PHYC30030 Quantum Mechanics Autumn

    5

    ACM30200 Mathematical Fluid Dynamics I Spring

    5

    ACM30210 Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Spring

    5

    MATH30040 Functions of One Complex Variable Spring

    5

    PHYC30070 Electromagnetism Spring

    5

    Stage 3 Core Modules
         
    Stage 3 Options - A)MIN1OF:
    Students must take PHYC20100 if not taken in stage 2, Students who had taken PHYC20100 in Stage 2 must take PHYC30050 in Stage 3.
         
    PHYC20100 Thermo & Stat Physics Autumn

    5

    PHYC30050 Condensed Matter Physics Autumn

    5

    Stage 3 Options - A)MIN1OF:
    Students must take PHYC20100 if not taken in stage 2, Students who had taken PHYC20100 in Stage 2 must take PHYC30050 in Stage 3.
         
    Stage 3 Options - B)MIN0OF:
    Students are required to complete 50 programme credits (cores/options) in Stage 3. Additional Option modules may be selected from the list below instead of Elective modules to complete Stage 3. Students wishing to take PHYC40110 Medical Physics in stage 4 must take PHYC30090 in stage 3.
         
    ACM30190 Dynamical Systems Autumn

    5

    MATH20130 Fundamentals of Actuarial and Financial Mathematics I Autumn

    5

    MATH20300 Linear Algebra 2 for the Mathematical Sciences Autumn

    5

    PHYC30100 Stellar Astrophysics & Astronomical Techniques Autumn

    5

    STAT20070 Data Modelling for Science Autumn

    5

    PHYC30080 Optics & Lasers Spring

    5

    PHYC30090 Nuclear Physics Spring

    5

    Stage 3 Options - B)MIN0OF:
    Students are required to complete 50 programme credits (cores/options) in Stage 3. Additional Option modules may be selected from the list below instead of Elective modules to complete Stage 3. Students wishing to take PHYC40110 Medical Physics in stage 4 must take PHYC30090 in stage 3.
         
    Stage 4 Core Modules
         
    PHYC40900 Proj. Theoretical Physics 2 Trimester duration (Aut-Spr)

    10

    PHYC30050 Condensed Matter Physics Autumn

    5

    PHYC40020 Applied Quantum Mechanics Autumn

    5

    PHYC30090 Nuclear Physics Spring

    5

    Stage 4 Core Modules
         
    Stage 4 Options - A)MIN5OF:
    Students must take 7 modules (35 credits) in option modules. At least 5 modules must be selected from Set A. A maximum of 2 option modules should be selected from Set B. Students who take ACM40750 must also have taken ACM40090.
         
    ACM30190 Dynamical Systems Autumn

    5

    ACM40010 Electrodynamics & Gauge Theory Autumn

    5

    ACM40090 Riemannian Differential Geometry Autumn

    5

    PHYC30100 Stellar Astrophysics & Astronomical Techniques Autumn

    5

    PHYC40080 High Energy Particle Physics Autumn

    5

    PHYC40120 General Relativity & Cosmology Autumn

    5

    PHYC40470 Computational Biophysics and Nanoscale Simulations Autumn

    5

    PHYC40930 Ultrafast Soft X-ray Photonics Autumn

    5

    ACM30020 Advanced Mathematical Methods Spring

    5

    ACM30090 Mathematical Biology Spring

    5

    ACM40070 Mathematical Fluid Dynamics II Spring

    5

    ACM40690 Survey of Appl and Comp Math Spring

    5

    ACM40750 Gen Relativity & Black Holes Spring

    5

    PHYC40030 Galaxies, Observational Cosmology & the Interstellar Medium Spring

    5

    PHYC40200 Quantum Theory of Condensed Matter Spring

    5

    PHYC40360 Theoretical Astrophysics Spring

    5

    PHYC40650 Advanced Statistical Physics Spring

    5

    PHYC40800 Quantum Field Theory Spring

    5

    Stage 4 Options - A)MIN5OF:
    Students must take 7 modules (35 credits) in option modules. At least 5 modules must be selected from Set A. A maximum of 2 option modules should be selected from Set B. Students who take ACM40750 must also have taken ACM40090.
         
    Stage 4 Options - B)MIN0OF:
    Students may only select a maximum of 2 modules from Set B.
         
    PHYC40330 Advanced Laboratory for TP III Autumn and Spring (separate)

    5

    PHYC40690 Advanced Laboratory Physics Autumn and Spring (separate)

    5

    PHYC30080 Optics & Lasers Spring

    5

    PHYC40110 Medical Physics (Selected Topics) Spring

    5

    PHYC40210 Applied Optics Spring

    5


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