Physics aims to understand the entire physical world, from the sub-atomic to the cosmological.

Career Opportunities

  • Applications Engineer
  • Avionics Engineer  
  • Electronics Engineer  
  • Medical Physicist  
  • Meteorologist
  • Satellite Information Processor  

Potential Employers

  • Crown Research Institutes
  • Electrotechnology Industry
  • Government Agencies
  • Health and Medical Research Industries
  • Universities and Polytechnics

Physics is the most fundamental science. It involves understanding the basic principles by which all things in the universe exist and operate. Therefore physics is the foundation of other scientific disciplines and the natural basis of all the technology disciplines such as electronics, engineering and computer science which were pioneered by physicists.

The most famous scientists, such as Einstein and Newton, were physicists. Physicists are versed in mathematics, computer programming, and the design of complex instruments. As such, they are among the most versatile scientists, able to easily cross boundaries into other disciplines such as chemistry, biology, medicine, earth and planetary sciences. For example, there are biophysicists, geophysicists, astrophysicists and neurophysicists.

Physics papers are organised into theoretical, experimental and electronics subject areas. Electronic engineering is the technology of most interest to our subject and includes the theory, design and construction of electronic devices, instruments and systems.

School subjects required

Physics and Calculus at NCEA Level 3 are required to enrol in PHYS103. Physics and Mathematics at NCEA Level 2 are required to enrol in PHYS100. Check the paper list carefully for specific prerequisites.

Planning Your Degree

Physics may be taken in your first year to broaden your scientific knowledge and provide foundation skills for your other subjects.  These papers will contribute as electives which support your chosen major(s).

Papers are worth 15 points.


  • ENEL111 – Introduction to Electronics
  • PHYS103 – Physics for Scientists and Engineers 1
  • MATH101 – Introduction to Calculus
  • MATH102 – Introduction to Algebra

PHYS100 - Exploring Physics is recommended for students lacking a strong secondary school background in physics.

Physics papers depend strongly on Mathematics. At 100 Level, you should plan to include the papers MATH101 Introduction to Calculus, and MATH102 Introduction to Algebra in your programme of study. If you lack the required NCEA pass in Mathematics to attempt these papers, you may be eligible to enrol in MATH168 Preparatory Mathematics, or MATH165 General Mathematics.

Papers are worth 20 points unless specified.

  • PHYS204 – Experimental Physics
  • PHYS205 – Relativity, Nuclear and Astrophysics (10 points)*
  • PHYS206 – Statistical and Thermal Physics (10 points)*
  • ENEL284 – Electricity and Magnetism (10 points)
  • ENEL285 – Quantum and Solid State Physics (10 points)

*Second year students should include the mathematics co-requisites MATH251, MATH253 and MATH255 in their programme alongside these papers.

Papers are worth 20 points unless specified.

  • PHYS302 – Quantum Physics
  • PHYS315 – Computational Biophysics
  • ENEL312 – Electromagnetic Waves
  • ENEL317 – Microprocessor Applications and Control
  • ENEL321 – Application Specific Integrated Circuits
  • ENEL324 – Optoelectronics
  • ENEL382 – High Speed Communications*
  • ENEL385 – Power Electronics

*Students who select this paper should include the co-requisite paper ENEL324 in their programme.

Postgraduate Studies

In the first instance, students are advised to refer to the latest Graduate Handbook for information on pursuing further study and research at graduate and postgraduate levels.