Skip to main content

UCC Undergraduate courses


Course Fact File
Duration4 Years
Teaching ModeFull-time
QualificationsBSc (Hons)
NFQ LevelLevel 8

Course Outline

How did the universe evolve? What are the basic building blocks of matter? These are the fundamental questions concerning physics, which is central to current and future science and technology.

Physics is used to tackle problems as diverse as the development of new energy sources, safer medical diagnostics, high-temperature superconductors and ever smaller and faster devices for electronics and telecommunications.

As a physics student, you will embark on a dynamic and exciting course of study that combines an intellectual fascination with practical application to a wide range of human endeavours, including biological sciences, engineering, earth sciences, philosophy and medicine.

The attributes needed by a good physicist include spatial and conceptual vision, mathematical fluency, curiosity, imagination and capacity for hard work.

Admission to the BSc Physics course is via the Physics and Astrophysics (CK408) entry stream. 

Our Year 1 curriculum provides a broad foundation in physics and mathematical subjects, allowing students to pursue several possible degree courses. Refer to CK408 for more details.

Year 1 Core Modules (45 credits)

  • PY1052 Introductory Physics I |(10 credits)
  • PY1053 Introductory Physics II (10 credits)
  • MA1011 Mathematical Methods I (5 credits)
  • MA1012 Mathematical Methods II (5 credits)
  • AM1020 Mathematical Modelling (5 credits)
  • AM1021 Mechanics I (5 credits)
  • ST1051 Introduction to Probability and Statistics (5 credits) 

Electives for Option 1 (choose 15 credits)

  • AM1053 Introduction to Mathematical Modelling (5 credits)
  • AM1054 Mathematical Software (5 credits)
  • CM1006 Introduction to Chemistry for Physicists and Mathematicians (10 credits)
  • CM1007 Introduction to Chemistry for Physicists (15 credits)
  • CS1061 Programming in C (5 credits)
  • CS1065 Computer Applications with Visual Basic (5 credits)
  • CS1068 Introductory Programming in Python (5 credits)
  • MA1057 Introduction to Abstract Algebra (5 credits)
  • PY1054 Special Topics in Physics (5 credits)
  • ST1051 Introduction to Probability and Statistics (5 credits)
  • BL1002 Cells, Biomolecules, Genetics and Evolution (5 credits)
  • BL1004 Physiology and Structure of Plants and Animals (5 credits)
  • BL1006 Habitats and Ecosystems (5 credits)
  • Year 2 Core Modules: Astrophysics and Special Relativity; C/C++ Programming with Applications; Classical Mechanics; Computational Physics; Electrostatistics and Magnetostatics; Experimental Physics; Experimental Methods; Fourier Methods; Multivariable Calculus; Quantum Physics; Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics. Electives: Ordinary Differential Equations; Linear Algebra; Mathematical Modelling.
  • Year 3 Core Modules: Computer Modelling and Numerical Techniques; Condensed Matter Physics; Electromagnetism; Experimental Physics; Experimental Methods II; Nuclear and Particle Physics; Optics; Quantum Mechanics; Statistical Thermodynamics; Vector and Tensor Methods. Electives: Mathematical Experimentation & Chaos; Fluid Mechanics; Optimisation and the Calculus of Variations; Computational Techniques; Observational Astrophysics.
  • Year 4 Core Modules: Research Project; Experimental Physics. Electives: Observational Astrophysics; Advanced Mechanics; Advanced Quantum Mechanics; Advanced Electromagnetism; Advanced Condensed Matter Physics; Atomic and Molecular Physics; Quantum Field Theory; Plasma Physics; Lasers and Photonics; Advanced Computational Physics; Stars and the Interstellar Medium; Galactic and Extragalactic; Experimental Physics; Physics and Semiconductor Devices.

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year-to-year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

Expected lecture hours

You will attend 15-20 lectures and tutorials per week. These are typically held in the mornings.

Expected lab/practical hours

You will attend two or more practicals per week. These are typically held in the afternoons. In Year 4, in addition to practicals, you will carry out a 12-week final-year research project.


Written exams will take place before Christmas and in May. Not all modules will have formal examinations. Many modules use other types of assessment including assignments and in-class tests, online exercises, end-of-semester examinations, and performance in laboratory practicals as well as seminars. Presentations and written reports for your research project, and for some modules, form a significant portion of the overall assessment.

Who teaches this course

This course is taught by academic staff from the School of Physics, with additional teaching by academics in the School of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics, UCC. Some specialised topics are also covered by researchers based at the Tyndall National Institute, UCC.

Why Choose This Course

In many ways, the principles of physics underlie all sciences, and the UCC programme offers excellent education in both experimental and theoretical physics.

Physics, and technologies developed by physicists, play a major role in atmospheric science, chemistry, biology, medicine, electronics, geology, energy, optics, nanotechnology, computer science and engineering.

An education in physics provides problem-solving, analytical, computational, mathematical and IT skills, and can lead to a wide range of careers in these and many other fields.

As a BSc Physics graduate of UCC, you will have:

  • a thorough grounding in experimental methods
  • highly marketable problem-solving skills
  • knowledge of theoretical and mathematical aspects of physics normally acquired only with a degree in theoretical physics.

Skills and Careers Information

Quantitative problem solving is the most marketable skill you will gain from BSc Physics. Project work and the development of presentation skills are also aspects of a physics degree much sought after by employers.

Typical careers for physics graduates include:

  • research and development
  • finance
  • IT
  • engineering
  • teaching
  • meteorology
  • astronomy
  • medicine and health marketing

View our Career Guide to CK408 - Physics & Astrophysics here.


Refer to CK408.

Non-EU Applicants

Non-EU applicants are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to the Irish Leaving Certificate. In addition, where such applicants are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language.

To verify if you meet the minimum academic and language requirements visit our qualification comparison page and refer to our International Office page for more information.

Fees and Costs

  • Whether you are an EU or Non-EU student will affect the course fees applicable to you. See more information on EU Fees, Non-EU Fees, or Free Fees Status.
  • The State will pay the tuition fees for EU students who are eligible under the Free Fees Scheme. The annual student contribution and capitation fees are payable by the student.
  • See the Fee Schedule to find out the course fee.
  • Check out scholarships that may be available to you.
  • Explore our Nurturing Bright Futures free online course (Module 5) to learn about managing your money as a student and budgeting for university life.

How To Apply

Refer to CK408.

Irish and European (EU/EFTA/UK) Applicants

Apply via the CAO. See the CAO Handbook for useful information on applying through the CAO. 

Mature Applicants 

Apply via the CAO by 1 February. To apply for a place as a mature student, you must be 23 years of age on or before 1 January of the year of entry.

QQI/FET Applicants 

Apply via the CAOSee our QQI/FET Applicants page for information on the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) Further Education and Training (FET) application process. 

Non-EU Applicants 

If you are from outside the EU/EFTA/UK, apply online via the UCC Apply portal. See our International Office page for more information. 

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact