Faculty of Science


Please note: Information on this page relates to the 2016 academic year unless otherwise specified.

On this page:

This subject is taught by the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences.


Physics is the most fundamental of all the sciences. It aims to understand how nature is put together and how it works. Physics examines matter and energy in all their forms: from the kinetic energy of a speeding car to the nuclear energy released by fusion in the core of a star. The concepts you learn in Physics can be applied to mechanical, electrical, magnetic, astronomical, chemical and biological situations. Its principles are essential in many applied disciplines such as Engineering, Architecture, Environmental Science and Information Technology.

Victoria's School of Chemical and Physical Sciences is proud to host the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, one of New Zealand's first Centres of Research Excellence. Research areas include condensed matter and materials science, astrophysics, geophysics, environmental and theoretical physics.

In addition to the Physics major in the Bachelor of Science (BSc), Physics courses can also be taken as part of a major in Electronic and Computer Systems.

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Undergraduate information

Physics major requirements

    • MATH 142, 151, PHYS 114, 115
    • MATH 243; PHYS 221, 222, 223; 15 further points from (ECEN 201-203, PHYS 201-299)
    • PHYS 304, 305, 307, 309

      First-year courses

      Your entry point to 100-level Physics depends on your background in Physics and Calculus.

      PHYS 131 and MATH 141 are both taught in the first trimester. Passing these will allow you to continue with PHYS 114 and/or PHYS 115 in the second trimester.

      Students who have achieved exceptional grades at NCEA Level 3 may be exempted from PHYS 114 and offered direct entry to one or more 200-level courses. If this could be you, please contact the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences as soon as your results are available.

      Students who have not completed NCEA level 3, but who have very good grades at Level 2, should also contact the School to discuss an appropriate entry point to the Physics and Mathematics courses.

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      Postgraduate information

      Information about postgraduate study in Physics can be found on the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences website.

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      How to find out more

      Want to find out more about studying at Victoria? Register now to find out more about your study options and keep updated on application and enrolment information, open days and events.

      If you need help deciding what degree might be right for you, or what courses to take, talk with a liaison officer or book a course planning session with us, call 0800 VICTORIA (842 867) or email course-advice@vuw.ac.nz.

      If you’re a returning or transferring student, contact the Faculty Student and Academic Services Office, for help with degree planning and for information on admission requirements and transfer credit from other institutions.

      Dr Gillian Turner
      Phone: 04 463 6478

      School Office
      Phone: 04 463 5335
      Email: scps@vuw.ac.nz

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      Related subjects and careers

      Related subjects Careers

      Applied Physics
      Computer Graphics
      Computer Science
      Electronic and Computer Systems


      Information technology
      Medical physics
      Operations researcher
      Research scientist
      Software designer
      Traffic engineer

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      List of courses

      Physics courses are taught within the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Laby Building.