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The Physics major provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to contribute to the development of scientific knowledge in diverse areas. Both classical and modern physics will be explored within the major, with areas of study including quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, optics, nuclear and atomic physics, and special relativity.
Physics graduates are valued for their pragmatic problem-solving abilities and comprehension of a complex discipline. Most employment opportunities exist for physicists in hands-on research, development and teaching roles within the resource and environmental management industries, medical laboratories and institutions, software and telecommunication companies, and other technological research and educational institutions.
Graduates are eligible for accreditation with the Australian Institute of Physics.
Academic advice: view Study Pathways for this major »
Some jobs require additional qualifications at Honours level. Honours is a one year stand-alone program, completed after successfully fulfilling the requirements of the undergraduate degree. View Bachelor of Science (Honours).
Some occupations require a higher level of completed study than an undergraduate degree, and for this reason it is worthwhile considering the range of postgraduate study options available. Postgraduate study may also be useful for specialising in a particular area, or to stimulate career change. Some of the postgraduate study options following the Bachelor of Science include:
Postgraduate coursework programs can add further specialisations in areas including business, safety, quality assurance and teaching. To explore such options please visit the Postgraduate Handbook.
The following list provides some example jobs available to graduates with a major in Physics. Some of these jobs will depend on the amount and level of study undertaken, level of experience, the combination of other majors and electives studied, while some may require further study.
Not everyone uses their degree in the same way and the transferable skills gained through university study may allow graduates to pursue a range of careers that might not be directly linked to their study. Below is a sample list of job titles that might be suitable for someone with the skills gained from a major in Physics.
- Graduate Programs - Public and Private Sectors
- Laboratory Analyst
- Laboratory/Research Assistant
- Optical Research Scientist
- Patent Attorney / Technical Advisor
- Policy Officer/Analyst
- Research Officer
- Research Scientist
Getting the Edge
Most employers seek to recruit people who have relevant work experience and an appreciation for their industry. Here is a check list of ideas about gaining experience and industry knowledge.
- Check the type of experience most employers in your field of interest expect. Don’t overlook the part time work you may be currently doing. Most employers understand that the skills are transferrable even if the work is not in their industry.
- Check your academic program for any courses that involve a placement or the opportunity to undertake an industry based project.
- Check your school for Summer Scholarships for research opportunities.
- Check vacancy sites for advertised traineeships, part time employment and vacation work opportunities in your field.
- Source and approach organisations directly about possible work shadowing or information interview opportunities.
- Source and approach organisations directly for paid work opportunities.
- Consider volunteering.
Note: Gaining experience may be important but not at the expense of your studies. Make sure you do not overload your timetable with unrealistic work commitments.
Physics graduates find employment opportunities in small, medium or large organisations of varying industries. Below are some examples of organisations that may recruit those holding this major. Check employers’ websites for sections titled Employment, Careers, Graduate Programs, or for similar sections. Some employers may also offer vacation work opportunities.
- Anglo-Australian Observatory (International)
- Australian and International Universities (International)
- Australian Bureau of Meteorology (Australia)
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (Australia)
- Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Australia)
- BHP Billiton (Australia)
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia (Australia)
- CSIRO (Australia)
- Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO) (Australia)
- Defence Materiel Organisation (Australia)
- Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) (Australia)
- Deloitte (Australia)
- Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Australia)
- Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (Australia)
- Department of Climate Change (Australia)
- Department of Defence - Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) (Australia)
- Department of Defence (Australia)
- Ericsson Australia (Australia)
- Foxtel (International)
- Motorola Australia (Australia)
- National Australia Bank (Australia)
- NSW Department of Health (Australia)
- Optus (Australia)
- Orica (International)
- Origin Energy Australia (Australia)
- PricewaterhouseCoopers (Australia)
- Questacon (Australia)
- Telstra (Australia)
- Westpac (Australia)
Some large organisations have specific graduate recruitment programs designed to employ the pick of graduates each year. You must be in your final year of study or recently completed to apply for these programs. The timing of these recruitment drives varies and may occur at any point in the academic year, in some cases starting as early as the first few weeks of the first semester or trimester.
Find out if employers in your area/s of interest have graduate programs, when they typically recruit and what recruitment methods they use. Check with the Careers Service .
Job Prospects and Salary
For up-to-date information please see Job Outlook Australia. This site provides basic Australian labour market information including job prospects, skills requirements and salaries. You might try some of the classifications below as a guide on this site.
Societies and Associations
Associations and societies often provide relevant and up to date information about a variety of issues relating to specific industry sectors. These can be a good starting point to learn more about occupations through profiles, industry news, links to academic journals and information on research developments. Many also offer student membership, conference and professional development activities, newsletters and the opportunity to participate in projects.
- APESMA (Australia)
- Astronomical Society of australia (Australia)
- Australian Acoustical Society (Australia)
- Australian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (Australia)
- Australian Institute of Physics (Australia)
Don’t overlook student societies and associations. As well as student chapters of professional associations, some faculties or schools have discipline based student associations. Check your school or faculty web site; perhaps you might start one if one doesn’t exist.
Some academic disciplines run Seminar Programs that involve regular seminars presented by University of Newcastle academics, visiting academics and postgraduate students. Check your schools website for the timetable.
Job Search Sites
Searching job sites is a good way to gain an understanding of: industries recruiting professionals in this field; types of roles and the requirements or expectations of employers for these roles. There are many online job search sites, here are a few to start with:
Australian and International
- CareerHub: the University of Newcastle Careers Service careers and job search site for enrolled students and graduates.
- CareerOne: Australia wide job listings, all levels and industries including executive positions
- MyCareer: Australian and international listings
- Seek: comprehensive Australian job listings, also includes New Zealand and UK listings
- The Big Chair: Management and Executive Jobs
Graduate Attributes and Employability
Graduates majoring in Physics will have the skills, abilities and knowledge sought after by a broad range of employers. On completion of the degree, graduates can expect an:
- In-depth knowledge and skills in a field of science with well-founded knowledge and skills in at least one field of science and a basic knowledge of at least one other field of science.
- Ability to effectively collect, analyse and organise scientific information.
- Ability to identify, define and analyse problems using scientific method to form and test hypotheses; the ability to apply statistical principles and logic; and use appropriate problem solving tools.
- Ability to report scientific findings in written, visual and verbal forms and to communicate a convincing and reasoned scientific argument at a level and style.
- Ability to work on a scientific activity both autonomously and collaboratively in a multidisciplinary environment with an ability to adapt to change, including new technologies and methods.
- Awareness of professional practice in relevant disciplines, including an understanding, appreciation and respect for appropriate conduct and practice.