Physics is the study of how the world around us works, from its most fundamental particles to the technology permeating our daily life. Our physics program will enable you to experience hands-on learning to develop the analytical, design, mathematical, and computational skills in order for you to understand the building blocks of nature, the universe, and human innovations. Professors include world-leading researchers in photonics, biophysics, and materials science. They will teach you about subatomic particles, living cells, distant galaxies, the Earth's climate, high-tech materials, and more.
A word from the Chair
Over the past 10 years, the Department of Physics has seen tremendous change and is today counted among Canada’s top physics departments. We perform research at the forefront of biophysics, photonics and material sciences on the world stage. The Department has chosen to focus on these areas due to the tremendous thrust towards both technological innovation and new fundamental research. Many of the breakthroughs in physics happen and will continue to happen in these areas. Examples include bio-labs on a chip, the ability to observe and control physics on the level of single molecules, quantum computing and communication as well as single electron transistors. Two of our faculty members are in the one percent most-cited scientists in the world. Quite an accomplishment when we consider Canada as a whole has only three physicists who are members of this elite club.
The Department offers two programs, one in physics and one in physics and mathematics. Recently we’ve enriched our programs with two exciting new options—photonics and biophysics. We are currently preparing another program, in our third area of strength, material sciences. These programs offer exciting career opportunities in academia and industry. In addition, students benefit from being exposed to world-class teachers and researchers in these areas, giving them a competitive advantage when applying for positions in their fields.
We recently created a double bachelor's degree in Physics and Electrical Engineering. It's a five-year elite program where we train "super-engineers" with the knowledge to develop new technologies from the design phase of physics to the manufactured product.
Physics at uOttawa is on a steep upward trajectory. Join us for this exciting trip and be part of one of the next major breakthroughs in physics!
Number of programs in physics
Number of students in physics
Programs of study
The Department of Physics offers minor, major and honours undergraduate degrees in physics, a minor in biophysics, as well as four related honours programs in physics-electrical engineering, physics-mathematics, and options in biophysics and photonics. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to gain professional experience through our successful COOP programs, where our rate of placement of our students into appropriate work terms is 100%.
At the graduate level, both master's and doctoral programs provide the opportunity to pursue a career in research and development, either in academia or industry. The department boasts state-of-the-art facilities and world leading professors in photonics, biophysics, and materials science.
Careers for recent graduates in Physics
Physicists end up in all sorts of interesting jobs and are virtually never unemployed, because of their broad training and adaptability. In particular they are needed at the start of new technologies and machines, or in particularly challenging projects such as space missions, remote explorations, and failure assessment.
As a working physicist you may find yourself: trying to predict the stock market on Wall Street, testing satellites for space missions, developing new materials for industry, developing new electronic devices and components, doing medical physics in a hospital, teaching the next generation of physicists in a high school, trying to predict the next major earthquakes to hit San Francisco or Japan, developing flight simulation software, optimizing industrial manufacturing or transformation processes, developing a new measurement instrument, performing materials testing and characterization for special applications, launching a new software company or product, performing urban planning and optimization, etc.
Graduates from the University of Ottawa over recent years have gone into various industrial and government laboratories such as Bell-Northern Research and the National Research Council, Mitel, Communications Research Center and the National Optics Institute; have gained employment with specialized companies working in the space industry such as Spar Aerospace; have started their own consulting companies; and have become physics teachers from the high-school to the university level.
From original ground breaking discoveries, to the development of new and revolutionary technologies, to the decoding of the stock market, physicists have revolutionized the way we live our lives. Our professors and our graduates are an important part of this chain. Many of our professors have also been recognized as superb teachers and have been widely recognized as world-class researchers in their respective fields of expertise.
The research conducted by the professors in the Department of Physics is concentrated in several sub-specialties, including the physics of biological and complex systems, condensed matter physics, photonics, and the physics of geomaterials. Depending upon their choice of program, undergraduate students will have the opportunity to take courses and participate in research projects in these specialized areas.
Physicist Paul Corkum is co-winner of the prestigious Wolf Prize in Physics, joining the ranks of such illustrious laureates as the late Stephen Hawking.
Professors Xiaoyi Bao and Jackie Dawson, whose research has been pivotal in their respective fields of fibre optics and climate change, are the University of Ottawa’s first laureates of the Governor General’s Innovation Award.