If I'm interested in _________ physics, what courses should I take?


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For most physics programs, you have to take PHY224 (Practical Physics I), PHY324 (Practical Physics II), or in the case of the physics specialist program, PHY424 (Advanced Physics Laboratory) in order to graduate. In the first two courses, you get to gather data from experiments, analyze them with Python, and submit the results in the form of an unofficial lab report. Experiments in these courses typically come with fully fleshed out documentation, with theoretical introductions, procedures, and questions you are expected to answer using your data. PHY424, however, simulates what it is like to work in actual research. You are sometimes required to come up with your own experimental objectives, then complete the study under a professor's supervision. If you are enrolled in the physics specialist program, you have to take PHY424 (and all of its prerequisite courses, such as PHY324 and PHY224) in order to graduate. 

Once you have completed all of your mandatory courses and prerequisites, you can take these continuation courses of PHY424: PHY426, PHY428, and PHY429. You have more freedom in these courses to do extended experiments. 

PHY405 (Electronics Labs) offers you the unique opportunity to learn about building and prototyping digital and analog circuits for instrumentations research. 


The only two computational-oriented courses are PHY407(Computational Physics) and PHY408 (Time Series Analysis). PHY407 explores the numerical methods to solve mathematical problems common to physics research. PHY408 looks into the more practical methods in analyzing experimental data.

Even though both of these courses only have PHY courses in their lists of prerequisites, it is recommended that you get familiar with Python. CSC108 (Introduction to Computer Programming) should cover the necessary programming knowledge to complete most assignments, but you can always take the slightly more advanced CSC148 (Introduction to Computer Science) just to be safe. 

How can I get research experience?

A great resource is the Physics Department webpage's section on research, employment, and summer opportunities. The department updates this page regularly, so be sure to check back each semester for new opportunities.

To see perspectives on gaining research experience from a UofT faculty member and several UofT alumni, see the slides from Prof. Amar Vutha's presentation (January 8, 2021) on undergraduate research opportunities. 

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