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Physics

Full details on physics course and background information on Physics at Oxford can be found at the Department of Physics website, and in particular the Physics Undergraduate Course Handbook linked to the undergraduate course website. The Course Handbook includes detailed syllabi as well as when subjects are typically offered in a given year.

Physics as a Major Option

We have found that most Visiting Students spending their third ("junior") year at Oxford slot into our second-year course. The following is an indicative outline of subjects for those who choose Physics as the sole option (since Visiting Students are integrated into tutorials with non-Visiting Students, subjects usually are not offered outside of the terms listed below):

TermSubject
Michaelmas Term
  • Mathematical physics, linear algebra
  • Thermodynamics
  • Electromagnetism in matter
  • Quantum mechanics
Hilary Term
  • Statistical physics
  • Advanced optics
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Analytical mechanics (short option)
Trinity Term
  • Quantum mechanics
Short options, e.g.,
  • Functions of a complex variable
  • Astrophysics
  • Energy studies
  • Introduction to biological physics
  • Climate physics

Trinity Term is also a time for revising all the physics learnt in the year in preparation for end-of-year exams. Assessment is based on the whole year, including written work, tutorials, and tests.

Note that the timing of the courses, as well as the selection of short options, can change from year to year. The actual list of subjects the student takes will be settled around the beginning of the year, adapted to the student's interests, needs, and course requirements at the home institution. Some students have added or replaced subjects from the first and third year programs as needed. Third-year subjects, for instance, are as follows:

TermSubject
Michaelmas Term
  • Flows, fluctuations, and complexity
  • Symmetry and relativity
  • Quantum, atomic, and molecular physics
Hilary Term
  • Nuclear and particle physics
  • General relativity and cosmology
  • Condensed matter physics
  • Advanced quantum mechanics (short option)
Trinity TermFurther short options, including
  • Plasma physics
  • Accelerator physics

In general, third-year courses assume the student already has a background comparable to that of completing the second year.

Visiting Students who wish to study a non-Physics "Minor" subject can omit some subjects from the Physics list.

Visiting Students normally do not take the laboratory ("practical") course while at Oxford. It is expected that laboratory requirements at the home institution will be fulfilled in other years.

When filling out the Visiting Student application, simply write "Physics" in the relevant terms. There is no need to list subjects for each term, unless you have a particular interest to take a subject. The final subject list is, of course, subject to the considerations mentioned above.

Physics as a Minor Option

Visiting Students studying physics as a "Minor" option can select from the above list of subjects, one per term. When filling out the Visiting Student application, list the subject in the relevant terms. The final subject list still will be determined at the beginning of the year in consultation with the tutors.