UCC Undergraduate courses


About This Course

Fact File

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.

See the College Calendar (UG Physics) for more detailed information on the programme and the Book of Modules for a more detailed description of programme 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 Department 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 appicants 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

Refer to CK408.

For International Fees see our Fees Schedule page.

How Do I Apply

Refer to CK408.

EU Applicants

The Central Applications Office (CAO) processes applications for undergraduate courses in Irish Higher Education Institutions. Refer to the CAO page for further information.

Mature Applicants (age 23 or over)

All interested mature applicants must make an application through the Central Applications Office (CAO). See the CAO Mature Applicants and the Mature Students Admissions Pathway (MSAP) pages. Visit our Mature Student Entry page for more information.


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

Non-EU Applicants

Non-EU applicants apply online via the UCC Apply portal. See our International Office page for more information.

All Applicants

Please note that the modules listed are indicative of the current set of modules for this course and are subject to change from year to year. Check the College Calendar for the full academic content of any given course for the current year. 

  • In UCC, we use the terms programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments. 

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact