Physicists embrace the study of the most basic natural laws, and seek to explain how and why things work on scales ranging from the sub-nuclear, through the everyday, and on to the entire cosmos.

Physicists explore and identify basic principles governing the structure and behaviour of matter, the generation and transfer of energy, and the interaction of matter and energy.

Some physicists use these principles in theoretical or experimental studies on topics such as the nature of time and the origin of the universe; others apply their knowledge to practical areas, developing advanced materials, electronic and optical devices, and equipment for a wide range of fields such as medicine, mining, astronomy and geophysics.

Physics is also at the heart of interdisciplinary areas such as information technology, nanotechnology, quantum technology and biophotonics. In newly developing areas in the biosciences, an understanding of basic physical principles is one of the keys to advancing knowledge.

Why choose physics at UQ?

We have a strong group of internationally-recognised researchers and award-winning teachers.

You'll benefit from our educational best practice and research into how to enhance physics learning.

When you complete your degree program, you will have developed robust, high-level analytical and problem-solving skills that are widely applicable and highly valued by a diverse range of employers including those in education, finance, engineering, computing and management.

Your skills will equip you for a range of exciting and rewarding careers across the public and private sectors, in areas such as:

  • government (research and management positions)
  • higher education (teaching, research and technical positions)
  • education and science communication
  • health and medicine
  • energy.

You may also decide to take a higher degree and work in research and development; undertaking fundamental research to increase scientific knowledge, or applied research to develop new devices, products or processes.

What our graduates say

Dr Russell Jurek

"I develop cutting-edge electron-ion optics simulations and software tools for other scientists. I enjoy doing research and inventing things that allow other people to do more in their own research. We develop key components for the world's most widely used scientific instruments.

"This is a very unique job in that it requires someone who is both an experienced programmer as well as a physicist with a broad theoretical background. At UQ I acquired a lot of programming experience, and the required theoretical background in maths, stats and physics. UQ’s reputation has also given me an advantage in finding jobs - having a PhD in physics from UQ means I almost always make it to the interview stage."

Dr Russell Jurek, computational physicist at ETP Ion Detect
Bachelor of Science (Hons) (Physics), PhD Physics

Read our full interview with Russell, and other alumni success stories.

Related links

Study and research options

Career prospects

Watch our video

Watch our video (YouTube 2m:07s) of astrophysicist Dr David Parkinson talking about where physics at UQ will take you.