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Moderatorship in Theoretical Physics

The Moderatorship Course in Theoretical Physics is an integrated programme of undergraduate study leading to the award of a B.A. (Mod) in Theoretical Physics. It is taught jointly by the School of Mathematics and the School of Physics.

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The first two years of the course (the Fresh years) aim to provide students with the broad background in both mathematics and physics that is required for a proper understanding of present day theoretical physics. In these two years Theoretical Physics students take the complete Physics lectures and practicals, together with a considerable part of the Moderatorship course in Mathematics.

The final two years (the Sophister years) of the programme consist of modules in mathematics and theoretical physics (including quantum mechanics, general relativity, electromagnetic theory, statistical mechanics, statistical physics and fluid mechanics) provided by the School of Mathematics, and a selection of specialist physics courses (including electromagnetism, modern optics, statistical thermodynamics, spectroscopy, solid state physics, nuclear physics, geophysics and astrophysics) from the School of Physics. In the third year the physics course includes some practical work, and in the final year students have the option of either a short computational physics project or further laboratory work.

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Manya Sahni
Graduate

I chose Theoretical Physics in Trinity because I wanted the best possible understanding I could get in university about the laws that govern our universe. I loved solving problems. If you go through the definitions and practice using the theorems, it all comes together in this magical moment and, suddenly, you find you know how to solve a problem. It is the most challenging and rewarding thing I have done in my life. It is worth all the work I put in to now have an idea of how black holes work. I would like to pursue a masters or a PhD in particle physics or quantum gravity. Theoretical Physics has given me the problem-solving and analytical skills to research these topics.

Course overview

Special entrance requirements: B in Leaving Certificate at Higher Level in both Mathematics and Physics.

Summary

A four year honors degree course combining courses in mathematics and physics. The programme emphasises the theoretical side of physics but includes experimental aspects. It also includes a range of courses in pure and applied mathematics and an introduction to computing. Some of the topics covered are relativity, cosmology, astrophysics and quantum mechanics, lasers, magnetism and superconductivity.

Course Objective

The Theoretical Physics programme in Trinity is designed to provide students with a solid background for further study or work in any area of experimental or theoretical physics. It includes computational physics. Having a large mathematics component it is also an excellent foundation for work in almost any numerate or logical discipline.

Course Content

The underlying theories of physics are described in mathematical terms, so a theoretical physicist needs a good understanding of both subjects. Cosmology, astrophysics, chaos, relativity and quantum mechanics are just a few of the exciting topics in theoretical physics while the more practical side of the course involves the latest ideas in magnetism, superconductivity, lasers and semi-conductors. This course is taught jointly by the Schools of Mathematics and Physics.

In the first two years students take Physics lectures which review all classical physics, introduces modern physics and is backed up by a comprehensive laboratory course. It is combined with mathematics modules in Algebra, Analysis, Mathematical Methods, Mechanics and Theoretical Physics. In the third and fourth years students choose from a selection of modules from both mathematics and physics. Practical work is not compulsory in the final year, although there is an experimental option for those who wish to maintain contact with the experimental side of the subject, in preference to a project.

Course Assessment

Students are assessed by means of continuous assessment and examination.

Modules

See the course modules

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

  1. Tackle a wide range of topics using powerful analytical tools including formal methods in classical and quantum physics
  2. Clearly communicate information and conclusions in written and verbal formats on core ideas in Theoretical Physics
  3. Evaluate complex problems and formulate solutions, identifying the role of theory, hypothesis and experiment in the scientific method
  4. Apply computers to the solution of problems in theoretical physics
  5. Plan, carry out and report a theoretical physics based investigation
  6. Apply classical and quantum theoretical techniques in research
  7. Work independently in a research environment and as part of a research team
  8. Undertake professional work in physics at a high level.

Career Opportunities

A degree in Theoretical Physics can be a starting point for a career in research in a university, government agency, or in industry in the fields of astronomy, meteorology, computing hardware and software, aerodynamics, statistics, instrumentation, atomic and nuclear physics. Graduates may also choose to go on to a career in teaching, finance, actuarial work or management.

Funding Partners

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This course is funded by the Irish government under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 and aided by the European Social Fund (ESF) under the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme 2007-2013.