The basic laws of physics are applied in advancements in many areas including modern medical and space-related technologies, climate research as well as energy generation and storage. As the study of physics continues to evolve through new discoveries, we need inquisitive minds to explore the connections between traditional and emerging research areas, including medical and nano-scale physics, and biophysics.
The MSc in Physics provides you with broad degree training for you to investigate fundamental and applied concepts that reflect faculty research specializations. Our cross-listed faculty members are experts in fields as varied as bioengineering and chemistry, and contribute to an environment that stresses strong student-supervisor relationships. For example, in collaboration with the PERFORM Centre, biomedical physics-related projects include using different imaging technologies to improve medical diagnostics and to investigate the effects of exercise on aging.
Benefit from cutting-edge research centres that promote interdisciplinary collaborations in nanoscience, and the molecular and life sciences. For example, projects currently underway at the Centre for NanoScience Research examine the optical properties of nanomaterials, the link between light-induced electron transfer and accompanying protonational reactions, and the structure-function relationships in photosynthetic pigment-protein complexes.
Our MA students are looking at topics such as:
electrochromic properties of vanadium pentoxide thin films
fabricating optical devices using a only optical fibre and a hydrogen-oxygen torch
the optical properties of photonic crystal ring resonators
using a writing-to-learn tool to engage students’ scientific thoughts at a higher level
the physics of manganese as a secondary electron donor in native bacterial reaction centers.
Applicants must have an honours degree, or its equivalent in Physics. Qualified applicants lacking prerequisite courses are required to take undergraduate courses (up to 12 credits) in addition to the regular graduate program. Applicants with deficiencies in their undergraduate preparation may be required to take a one-year qualifying program before admission to the MSc program.
Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the Graduate Admission page for further information on the Language Proficiency requirements and exemptions.
Credits. A fully-qualified candidate is required to complete a minimum of 45 credits.
Courses. The candidate is required to take the following:
9 credits chosen from PHYS 601, 602, 603, 609, 636, 637, 639, 642, 644, 646, 648, 649, 660, 663, 665 and 679.
Students may, with permission of their supervisor, substitute up to two courses from the following list:
CHEM 620 Selected Topics in Organic Chemistry
CHEM 630 Selected Topics in Physical Chemistry
CHEM 677 Enzyme Kinetics and Mechanism
CHEM 678 Protein Engineering and Design
CHEM 690 Selected Topics in Instrumentation
CHEM 692 Experimental Protein Chemistry
MAST 689 Variational Methods
MAST 694 Group Theory
PHYS 760: MSc Seminar on Selected Topics (3 credits). Students must give one seminar in the field of their research.
PHYS 790: Master’s Research and Thesis (33 credits): The thesis must represent the results of the student's original research work undertaken after admission to this program. Work previously published by the student may be used only as introductory or background subject matter. The thesis is examined by a departmental committee. An oral examination is conducted to test the candidate's ability to defend the thesis.
The thesis may be based on a study of a significant problem in physics or a research project conducted as part of the student’s employment. Permission to submit a thesis in the latter category is granted in the event that:
the student’s employer furnishes written approval for the pursuit and reporting of the project;
the student has research facilities which, in the opinion of the physics graduate studies committee, are adequate;
arrangements can be made for supervision of the project by a faculty member of the Department of Physics;
in all but exceptional cases, the student has direct supervision by a qualified supervisor at the site of the student’s employment. The supervisor must be approved by the physics graduate studies committee. A written working agreement between the supervisor and the university are required;
the proposed topic for the thesis, together with a brief statement outlining the proposed method of treatment, is approved by the physics graduate studies committee.
2. An admission offer will not be issued until a supervisor match has been made. Students are encouraged to review the list of faculty members' field of interests and directly contact those with whom you would like to work.
All courses are worth 3 credits each unless otherwise specified. The graduate courses offered by the Department of Physics fall into the following categories:
PHYS 600-609 Topics in Quantum and High Energy Physics
PHYS 630-639 Topics in Condensed Matter Physics
PHYS 640-649 Topics in Theoretical Physics
PHYS 660-669 Topics in Biomedical Physics
PHYS 670-679 Topics in Applied Physics
Topics in Quantum and High Energy Physics (600-609)
PHYS 601 Advanced Quantum Mechanics I (3 credits)
This course reviews the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics, Heisenberg, Schroedinger, and interaction representations; time-dependent perturbation theory and the golden rule; collision theory, Born approximation, T-matrix and phase shifts; angular momentum theory: eigenvalues and eigenvectors, spherical harmonics, rotations and spin, additions theorems and their applications. Note: Students who have received credit for PHYS 612 may not take this course for credit.
PHYS 602 Advanced Quantum Mechanics II (3 credits)
The following applications are examined: non-relativistic theory - systems of identical particles, second quantization, Hartree-Fock theory, as well as path integral formulation of quantum mechanics; relativistic theory: Dirac and Klein-Gordon equations, positron theory, propogator theory and their applications; field quantization, radiative effects, Dirac and Majorana spinors, Noether’s theorem. Note: Students who have received credit for PHYS 613 may not take this course for credit.
PHYS 603 High Energy Physics (3 credits)
This course discusses symmetries and groups; antiparticles; electrodynamics of spinless particles, the Dirac equation and its implications for the electrodynamics of spin 1/2 particles. A general discussion of loops, renormalization and running coupling constants, hadronic structure and partons, is used to introduce the principles of Quantum Chromodynamics and Electroweak Interactions. The course concludes with an exposition of gauge symmetries, the Weinberg-Salam model, and Grand Unification. Note: Students who have received credit for PHYS 616 may not take this course for credit.
PHYS 609 Selected Topics in Quantum or High Energy Physics (3 credits)
This course reflects the research interests of the physics faculty in quantum or high energy physics and/or those of the graduate students working with them. Note: Students who have taken the same topic under PHYS 615, PHYS 618 or PHYS 619 may not take this course for credit.
Topics in Condensed Matter Physics (630-639)
PHYS 636 Condensed Matter Physics I (3 credits)
Review of electron levels in periodic potentials, various band-structure methods, Thomas-Fermi and Hartree-Fock theories, screening, anharmonic effects crystals, inhomogeneous semiconductors, p-n junctions, transistors. Dielectric properties of insulators, ferroelectric materials. Defects in crystals. Magnetic ordering, paramagnetism, diamagnetism, ferromagnetism, phase transitions, superconductivity.
PHYS 637 Condensed Matter Physics II (3 credits)
This course provides a review of the phonon modes and electron band structure of crystals. It covers a selection of modern quantum condensed‑matter topics which may include Hartree‑Fock, mesoscopic quantum transport theory (quantum dots, 1D systems, 2D systems), superconductivity, the quantum Hall effects, weak localization, and current research topics. Students further develop an in-depth knowledge of the course material through an individual project.
PHYS 639 Selected Topics in Condensed Matter Physics (3 credits)
This course reflects the research interests of the physics faculty in condensed matter physics and/or those of the graduate students working with them. Note: Students who have received credit for PHYS 635 may not take this course for credit.
Topics in Theoretical Physics (640-649)
PHYS 642 Statistical Physics (3 credits)
This course covers statistical concepts, probability, Gaussian probability distribution, statistical ensemble, macrostates and microstates, thermodynamic probability, statistical thermodynamics, reversible and irreversible processes, entropy, thermodynamic laws and statistical relations, partition functions, Maxwell’s distribution, phase transformation, Maxwell-Boltzmann, Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac statistics, quantum statistics in the classical limit, black-body radiation, conduction electrons in metals, interacting particle system, lattice vibrations, virial coefficients, Weiss molecular field approximation. Note: Students who have received credit for PHYS 654 may not take this course for credit.
PHYS 644 Advanced Classical Mechanics and Relativity (3 credits)
This course covers generalized coordinates, Lagrange’s equations, method of Lagrange multipliers, variational formulation, Hamilton’s equations of motion, canonical transformations, Hamilton-Jacobi theory, special theory of relativity, Einstein’s axioms, Lorentz transformations, form invariance and tensors, four-vectors, gravity. Note: Students who have received credit for PHYS 658 may not take this course for credit.
PHYS 646 Electrodynamics (3 credits)
This course covers the electrostatic boundary-value problem with Green’s function, Maxwell’s equations, energy-momentum tensor, guided waves, dielectric wave-guides, fibre optics, radiation static field, multipole radiation, velocity and acceleration field, Larmor’s formula, relativistic generalization, radiating systems, linear antenna, aperture in wave guide, scattering, Thompson scattering, Bremsstrahlung, Abraham-Lorentz equation, Breit-Wigner formula, Green’s function for Helmholtz’s equation. Noether’s theorem.
PHYS 648 Non Linear Waves (3 credits)
Linear stability analysis and limitations, modulated waves and nonlinear dispersion relations, Korteweg-de Vries, sine-Gordon, and nonlinear Schrödinger equations. Hydro-dynamic, transmission-line, mechanical, lattice, and optical solitions. Applications in optical fibres, Josephson junction arrays. Inverse scattering method, conservation laws.
PHYS 649 Selected Topics in Theoretical Physics (3 credits)
This course reflects the research interests of the Physics faculty in theoretical physics and/or those of the graduate students working with them.
Topics in Biomedical Physics (660-669)
PHYS 660 Chemical Aspects of Biophysics (3 credits)
This course examines several aspects of the stability of protein structures including bonding and nonbonding interactions, energy profiles, Ramachandran plot, stabilization through protonation-deprotonation, interaction of macromolecules with solvents, the thermodynamics of protein folding, and ligand binding. The Marcus-theory of biological electron transfer is discussed. The course also introduces the students to several modern biophysical techniques such as electronic spectroscopies (absorption, fluorescence), X-ray absorption spectroscopy, NMR and EPR spectroscopy, IR and Raman spectroscopy, circular dichroism, and differential scanning calorimetry. Students further develop an in-depth knowledge of the course material through an individual project.
PHYS 663 Quantitative Human Systems Physiology (3 credits) Prerequisite: Open to all Science and Engineering program students.
This course addresses important concepts of quantitative systems physiology and the physical bases of physiological function in different organ systems. The student becomes familiar with the structure and functional principles of the main physiological systems, and how to quantify them. These include the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory and muscular systems. Important biophysical principles and quantitative physiological methods are presented. Topics may include the biophysics of muscle contractions, fluid dynamics in the cardiovascular system, respiration gas exchange and neuronal communication, and how the biophysics of neuronal communications can be used to image brain activity. Students develop in-depth knowledge of how to apply these principles to a specific system through an individual project.
PHYS 665 Principles of Medical Imaging (3 credits) Prerequisite: Open to all Science and Engineering program students.
This course aims to introduce the physical principles associated with important medical imaging techniques used in medicine and in neuroscience research. The objective is to cover the whole imaging process in detail starting from the body entities to be imaged (e.g. structure, function, blood flow, neuronal activity), to the physical principles of data acquisition and finally the methods used for image data reconstruction. Important imaging modalities such as X-ray and computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine, ultrasound, electrophysiology and optical imaging techniques are presented. Students develop an in-depth understanding of how to apply this knowledge for a specific imaging modality through an individual project.
Topics in Applied Physics (670 - 679)
PHYS 679 Selected Topics in Applied Physics (3 credits)
This course reflects the research interests of the Physics faculty in Applied Physics and/or those of the graduate students working with them.
Seminar, Thesis, and Comprehensive Examination
PHYS 760 MSc Seminar on Selected Topics (3 credits)
Students must give one seminar in the field of their research. In addition, full time students must participate in all seminars given in the department, and part time students must attend, during their studies, the same number of seminars that are normally given during the minimum residence requirement for full time students. The course in evaluated on a pass/fail basis. No substitution is permitted.
PHYS 790 Master’s Research and Thesis (33 credits)
Prospective graduate students must be selected by one or two (in case of joint supervision) faculty member(s) as a condition for final admission. Upon admission the research supervisor(s) and the department accept the responsibility for ensuring and arranging the financial support for the student for at least two years contingent upon satisfactory performance.
A Supervisory Committee is appointed for each student. This committee consists of two faculty members in the department and the research supervisor(s). The committee is responsible for monitoring the student’s academic progress and reports to the Graduate Program Committee.
An MSc in Physics prepares you for careers in various industries, including photonics, opto-electronics, semiconductors, biomedical and biophysics, advanced materials, nanotechnology, energy production, flight simulation, aeronautics, space science, and engineering. You’ll also be qualified for certain governmental and teaching positions. Physics graduates are also sought by employers for non-technical positions such as those in law, administration, business, journalism, financial analysis and publishing.