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Study Physics at Otago University

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Physics encompasses the study of the universe from the largest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles. It is the basis for many other sciences, including chemistry and geology. Physics challenges our imaginations with concepts like relativity and quantum mechanics, it provides an understanding of the world around us from electromagnetic space storms to melting ice in the Antarctica, and it leads to great discoveries underpinning technologies that change our lives such as computer chips, lasers, solar photovoltaic cells, and magnetic resonance imaging.

Find out more about physics research at Otago.

Our physics graduates are problem solvers. Their analytical skills make them versatile and adaptable and desirable in many technical fields. A bachelor degree in physics provides a great foundation for many careers including:

Fundamental Physics Research
Engineering
Robotics
Computer Science
Computational modelling
Information Science
Digital and Electronics Technology
Bio-Medical Science
Energy Science

Our physics graduates get interesting well-paid jobs all over the world. Employers know the additional skills and expertise that a physics major brings. Physics graduates can expect career salaries similar to those of computer science and engineering majors

Undergraduate Degrees

At Otago we offer a science-focused Physics degree and more specialist degrees in Electronics, and Energy Science and Technology.

Physics – Science-focused degree covering the fundamentals of theoretical and experimental physics. 

Electronics – A modern systems' approach to electronics, focusing on information processing and the circuits used to achieve this.

Energy – A unique undergraduate programme focused on the science and technology behind the transition to more sustainable energy sources and energy use. 

Engineering Intermediate

An engineering intermediate year for one of the major engineering schools in New Zealand can be taken at the University of Otago.

Find out about enrolling in an Engineering Intermediate year at Otago.

Recommendations for your study programme

There are a range of options for constructing your degree at Otago. To obtain advice tailored to your goals, contact one of our study advisors.

Find out how to get course advice for your studies in Physics or Electronics.

PHSI 282
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
PHSI 243
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
PHSI 191
It is strongly recommended that students enrolling in
PHSI 191 have achieved the externally examined Achievement Standards
for NCEA Level 3 Physics.
PHSI 336
Prerequisite: MATH 203 and 36 300-level PHSI or MATH points.
Recommended Preparation: (PHSI 231 and PHSI 232)
and (MATH 262 or COMO 204).
PHSI 365
Prerequisite; (36 200-level PHSI points or
(18 200-level PHSI points and 18 200-level MATH points))
and MATH 170.
PHSI 381
Prerequisite:PHSI 282
ELEC 253
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
ELEC 353
Prerequisite: ELEC 253 and MATH 170.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 242*.
ELEC 361
Prerequisite: ELEC 253 and PHSI 282.
ELEC 358Prerequisite: ELEC 353.
Recommended Preparation: COMP 150 or COMP 160.
EMAN 201
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*.
Pre or Corequisite: MATH 160.
EMAN 204
Prerequisite: 54 100-level points.
EMAN 301
Prerequisite: EMAN 201.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 203.
EMAN 308
Prerequisite: EMAN 201.
Pre or Corequisite: MATH 160 and MATH 170.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 203.
PHSI 232
Prerequisite: PHSI 132 and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
PHSI 231
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170).
PHSI 131
(i) It is recommended that students enrolling for PHSI 131
have a background in NCEA Level 3 Physics and Mathematics
(or equivalent).
(ii) Students with excellent results in NCEA Level 3 Physics
(or equivalent) are advised to contact the departmental course adviser
about substituting PHSI 243 or ELEC 253 for PHSI 131.
PHSI 132
It is recommended that students enrolling for PHSI 132
have a background in NCEA Level 3 Physics and Mathematics
(or equivalent).
PHSI 331
Prerequisite: MATH 170 and PHSI 231.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 202
PHSI 332
Prerequisite: MATH 170 and PHSI 232

PHSI 282
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
PHSI 243
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*.
Pre or Corequisite: MATH 160 or MATH 170.
PHSI 191
It is strongly recommended that students enrolling in PHSI 191
have achieved the externally examined Achievement Standards for
NCEA Level 3 Physics.
PHSI 336
Prerequisite: MATH 203 and 36 300-level PHSI or MATH points.
Recommended Preparation: (PHSI 231 and PHSI 232)
and (MATH 262 or COMO 204).
PHSI 365
Prerequisite; (36 200-level PHSI points
or (18 200-level PHSI points and 18 200-level MATH points))
and MATH 170.
PHSI 381
Prerequisite:PHSI 282
ELEC 253
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170))
ELEC 353
Prerequisite: ELEC 253 and MATH 170.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 242*.
ELEC 361
Prerequisite: ELEC 253 and PHSI 282.
ELEC 358
Prerequisite: ELEC 353.
Recommended Preparation: COMP 150 or COMP 160.
EMAN 201
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*.
Pre or Corequisite: MATH 160.
EMAN 204
Prerequisite: 54 100-level points.
EMAN 301
Prerequisite: EMAN 201.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 203.
EMAN 308
Prerequisite: EMAN 201.
Pre or Corequisite: MATH 160 and MATH 170.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 203.
PHSI 232
Prerequisite: PHSI 132 and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
PHSI 282
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
ELEC 253
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
PHSI 365
Prerequisite; (36 200-level PHSI points
or (18 200-level PHSI points and 18 200-level MATH points))
and MATH 170.
PHSI 243
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*.
Pre or Corequisite: MATH 160 or MATH 170.
PHSI 365
Prerequisite; (36 200-level PHSI points
or (18 200-level PHSI points and 18 200-level MATH points))
and MATH 170.
ELEC 353
Prerequisite: ELEC 253 and MATH 170.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 242*.
PHSI 232
Prerequisite: PHSI 132 and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
PHSI 231
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170).
PHSI 131
(i) It is recommended that students enrolling for PHSI 131
have a background in NCEA Level 3 Physics and Mathematics
(or equivalent).
(ii) Students with excellent results in NCEA Level 3 Physics
(or equivalent) are advised to contact the departmental course adviser
about substituting PHSI 243 or ELEC 253 for PHSI 131.
PHSI 131
It is recommended that students enrolling for PHSI 132
have a background in NCEA Level 3 Physics
and Mathematics (or equivalent).
PHSI 331
Prerequisite: MATH 170 and PHSI 231.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 202
PHSI 332
Prerequisite: MATH 170 and PHSI 232
PHSI 131 or PHSI 191
PHSI 131
It is recommended that students enrolling for PHSI 132
have a background in NCEA Level 3 Physics
and Mathematics (or equivalent).
PHSI 131
It is recommended that students enrolling for PHSI 132
have a background in NCEA Level 3 Physics
and Mathematics (or equivalent).
MATH 160
Mathematics 1
and MATH 170
Mathematics 2
MATH 202
Linear Algebra
GEOG 392
Climatology
or GEOG 388
Climate Change: Present and Future
GEOG 216
Resource Evaluation and Planning
COMP 150
Practical Programming,
or COMP 160
General Programming
MATH 170
Mathematics 2
MATH 203
Calculus of Several Variables
MATH 203
Calculus of Several Variables
MATH 202
Linear Algebra
One of PHSI 131, 132
or 191 required
PHSI 191 may replace
PHSI 131 in major
ENGL 127
Effective Writing
COMP 150
Practical Programming,
or COMP 160
General Programming
STAT 261
Probability and Inference 1
COMO 303
Numerical Methods
COMO 101
Modelling and Computation
COMO 204
Differential Equations
MATH 160
Mathematics 1
and MATH 170
Mathematics 2
MATH 160
Mathematics 1
MATH 170
Mathematics 2
MATH 160
Mathematics 1
MATH 170
Mathematics 2
BSNS 114
Financial Decision Making
MATH 203
Calculus of Several Variables

PHSI 282
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
PHSI 243
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*.
Pre or Corequisite: MATH 160 or MATH 170.
PHSI191
It is strongly recommended that students enrolling in PHSI 191
have achieved the externally examined Achievement Standards
for NCEA Level 3 Physics.
PHSI 336
Prerequisite: MATH 203 and 36 300-level PHSI
or MATH points.
Recommended Preparation: (PHSI 231 and PHSI 232)
and COMO 204.
PHSI 365
Prerequisite; (36 200-level PHSI points
or (18 200-level PHSI points and 18 200-level MATH points))
and MATH 170.
PHSI 381
Prerequisite:PHSI 282
ELEC 253
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
ELEC 353
Prerequisite: ELEC 253 and MATH 170.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 242*.
ELEC 361
Prerequisite: ELEC 253 and PHSI 282.
ELEC 358
Prerequisite: ELEC 353.
Recommended Preparation: COMP 150 or COMP 160.
EMAN 201
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*.
Pre or Corequisite: MATH 160.
EMAN 204
Prerequisite: 54 100-level points.
EMAN 301
Prerequisite: EMAN 201.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 203.
EMAN 308
Prerequisite: EMAN 201.
Pre or Corequisite: MATH 160 and MATH 170.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 203.
PHSI 232
Prerequisite: PHSI 132
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
PHSI 231
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170).
PHSI 131
(i) It is recommended that students enrolling for PHSI 131 have a background in
NCEA Level 3 Physics and Mathematics (or equivalent).
(ii) Students with excellent results in NCEA Level 3 Physics (or equivalent)
are advised to contact the departmental course adviser about substituting
PHSI 243 or ELEC 253 for PHSI 131.
PHSI 132
It is recommended that students enrolling for PHSI 132
have a background in NCEA Level 3 Physics and Mathematics
(or equivalent).
PHSI 331
Prerequisite: MATH 170 and PHSI 231.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 202
PHSI 332
Prerequisite: MATH 170 and PHSI 232

PHSI 282
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110* and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
PHSI 243
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
PHSI 191
It is strongly recommended that students enrolling in PHSI 191
have achieved the externally examined Achievement Standards for NCEA Level 3 Physics.
PHSI 336
Prerequisite: MATH 203 and 36 300-level PHSI or MATH points.
Recommended Preparation: (PHSI 231 and PHSI 232) and (MATH 262 or COMO 204).
PHSI 365
Prerequisite: (36 200-level PHSI points
or (18 200-level PHSI points and 18 200-level MATH points))
and MATH 170.
PHSI 381
Prerequisite:PHSI 282
ELEC 253
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
ELEC 353
Prerequisite: ELEC 253 and MATH 170.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 242*.
ELEC 361
Prerequisite: ELEC 253 and PHSI 282.
ELEC 358
Prerequisite: ELEC 353.
Recommended Preparation: COMP 150 or COMP 160.
EMAN 201
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*.
Pre or Corequisite: MATH 160.
EMAN 204
Prerequisite: 54 100-level points.
EMAN 301
Prerequisite: EMAN 201.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 203.
EMAN 308
Prerequisite: EMAN 201.
Pre or Corequisite: MATH 160 and MATH 170.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 203.
PHSI 232
Prerequisite: PHSI 132 and (MATH 160 or MATH 170)
PHSI 231
Prerequisite: One of PHSI 131, PHSI 132, PHSI 191, PHSI 110*
and (MATH 160 or MATH 170).
PHSI 131
(i) It is recommended that students enrolling for PHSI 131
have a background in NCEA Level 3 Physics and Mathematics (or equivalent).
(ii) Students with excellent results in NCEA Level 3 Physics
(or equivalent) are advised to contact the departmental course
adviser about substituting PHSI 243 or ELEC 253 for PHSI 131.
PHSI 132
It is recommended that students enrolling for PHSI 132
have a background in NCEA Level 3 Physics and Mathematics
(or equivalent).
PHSI 331
Prerequisite: MATH 170 and PHSI 231.
Recommended Preparation: MATH 202
PHSI 332
Prerequisite: MATH 170 and PHSI 232

 

Major requirements

For a Physics major (BSc) you need PHSI 131, 132, 231, 232, 282, 331, 332, and 382, MATH 160, 170, 202, and 203, one other 300-level PHSI or ELEC paper, and 126 further points, which must include 18 points at 200-level or above. Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Science. For an Electronics major (BSc) you need PHSI 132, 232, 282, and 365, MATH 170, 202 and 203, ELEC 253, 353, 358 and 361, and 162 further points including 18 points at 200-level or above. Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Science.

For an Energy Management major (BAppSc) you need one of PHSI 131, 132, or 191, PHSI 243, MATH 160 and 170, EMAN 201, 204, 301, and 308, GEOG 388 or GEOG 392, one further 300-level paper approved by the Programme director, and 180 further points, including either requirements for an approved minor or approved second major subject or other approved papers.

For an Energy Studies major (BSc) you need one 100-level PHSI paper, PHSI 243, MATH 160 and 170, EMAN 201, 204, 301, and 308, GEOG 388 or GEOG 392, another Science paper at 200-level or above, one further 300-level paper approved by the Programme director, and 162 further points; must include 36 points at 200-level or above. Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Science.

Minor Requirements

For a minor in Physics (BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, or BASc) you need five PHSI papers, at least three of which must be above 100-level, including at least one at 300-level or above.

For a minor in Energy Management (BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, or BASc) you need one of PHSI 131, 132, or 191, EMAN 201 or PHSI 243, EMAN 204, and either EMAN 301 or EMAN 308.

For a minor in Electronics (BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, or BASc) you need one of PHSI 131, 132, or 191, MATH 160 or 170, ELEC 253, PHSI 282, and one 300-level ELEC paper.