Physics and Atmospheric Science
Location: Sir James Dunn Science Building
6310 Coburg Road
Room 218
P.O. Box 15000
Halifax, NS
B3H 4R2
Telephone: (902) 494-2337
Fax: (902) 494-5191


How does the world work? What are the rules that govern how things happen? These are the questions that intrigue physicists who try to explain the great diversity of nature with the fewest and simplest hypotheses. They discover that there are underlying similarities between things that look very different on the surface. Good physicists have the imagination to see these similarities, coupled with the understanding of the fundamentals of their science to determine the rules that govern the universe. Our programs are designed to allow you to learn physics in a systematic manner and understand how physics applies to the world around us.

Physicists are employed in many areas in universities, government departments and industry and are valued for their ability to discover and apply fundamental insights to a variety of situations.

This intellectual rigor can be applied in many fields beyond physics including meteorology, engineering, education, law, medicine, dentistry, health sciences, and business. Because practicing physicists often have knowledge of several fields, we have a number of combined programs with other science disciplines to provide that broader approach.

Our Honours program is our most comprehensive program aimed at those intending to become career physics specialists. Our various major and combined programs described below provide the opportunity to pursue a broad education in both physics and other areas.

First Year Courses

PHYC 1451/PHYC 1452 are general interest courses for BA students and are not acceptable as a prerequisites for further courses in physics. PHYC 1190/PHYC 1290, and PHYC 1310/PHYC 1320 both give a general introduction to physics, but each has its own particular approach and selection of topics.

PHYC 1190/PHYC 1290 is primarily for students intending to make a study of a physical science or engineering; it has regular labs, occasional tutorials, uses calculus, and is accepted as a prerequisite for advanced physics courses. Nova Scotia Grade XII Physics or its equivalent is a prerequisite. It is recommended that PHYC 1190/PHYC 1290 be taken consecutively, but PHYC 1190 is not a prerequisite for PHYC 1290.

PHYC 1310/PHYC 1320 is an introduction to physics that is oriented towards the health sciences and is primarily intended for students in biology, pre-medicine, pre-dentistry and allied health sciences. The course incorporates labs and tutorials, and is accepted as a prerequisite for advanced physics courses when MATH 1000.03 and MATH 1010.03 are taken concurrently. It is a good preparation for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Nova Scotia Grade XII Physics or its equivalent is highly recommended.

Students who are participating in the Integrated Science Program, and are interested in continuing in Physics, should consult the Undergraduate Advisor.

Second Year Courses

There are five 2nd year core physics courses (PHYC 2050, PHYC 2140, PHYC 2150, PHYC 2510, PHYC 2515). These courses are also suitable for students in other disciplines who would like to enhance their knowledge of physics. In particular, PHYC 2150 provides an opportunity to gain more laboratory experience, which is extremely valuable in many jobs.

Third and Fourth Year Courses

Not all courses are offered each year. Students should take careful note of the year in which each of these courses is planned to be offered. This information can be found at the department website

Prizes are awarded to the top students in each year of the program. Please refer to Awards.

Degree Programs

The Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science offers the following degree programs in Physics

  • BSc or BA (120 credit hour) Honours (Concentrated)*
  • BSc or BA (120 credit hour) Combined Honours*
  • BSc or BA (120 credit hour) Major*
  • BSc or BA (120 credit hour) Major combined with a Diploma in Meteorology*
  • BSc or BA (120 credit hour) Double Major*
  • BSc or BA (90 credit) Minor in Physics
  • Minor in Physics
  • One year Diploma in Meteorology

* BSc Co-op option available
* May be combined with Minor programs from other disciplines

Departmental requirements for each degree program can be seen by following the links in the menu to the right.

In addition to departmental requirements, students must satisfy the requirements outlined in the Academic Regulations and the College of Arts and Science Degree Requirements sections.

A student is governed by the academic regulations in place at the time of initial enrolment, as long as the degree is completed within the time permitted (10 years). Subsequent changes in regulations shall apply only if the student so elects. Student applying the old academic regulations should consult the calendar of the appropriate year.

Students should plan their programs of study carefully and are strongly encouraged to do so in consultation with a Physics undergraduate academic advisor.