Combined Honours in Physics and Mathematics

Modern theoretical physics, is an exciting field which includes such topics as cosmology, string theory and superconductivity. Important advances in all these areas are being made by researchers in this department. UBC is also home to the newly founded Pacific Institute for Theoretical Physics (PITP) which attracts leading theorists from around the globe. Theoretical physics requires a high level of mathematical understanding. Important areas of mathematics include: linear algebra, complex analysis, differential equations, differential geometry and group theory. Many graduates from the combined honours program in mathematics and physics have gone on to graduate work in Physics and/or Mathematics at the top universities in the world. The program also provides an excellent background for employment in diverse high-tech industries which require a high degree of analytical skills as well as a wide variety of other sectors such as mathematical finance and scientific computing.

The requirements for Combined Honours Physics and Mathematics are: a clear pass from first year as well as an overall standing of at least 68% in all first year Physics and Mathematics courses. All Combined Honours Physics and Mathematics students are expected to complete a minimum of 30 credits per winter session (September to April), or 15 credits per academic term for students in the COOP program, and to maintain a sessional average of at least 68% (no failed courses). In their last Winter Session, students may register for fewer than 30 credits if all degree requirements will be completed during this last session.

The Science I program as well as the regular first year science stream are excellent entry points for this program. A coop option is also available.

Please be aware that the official program requirements are to be found in the UBC calendar. For more details consult the relevant calendar section. Below is a short description of the program. For information on first year registration please go to first year.

First Year
Communication Requirement1 6
CHEM 121 (or 111)2 4
MATH 120 (or 100 or 102 or 104 or 180 or 184)2,3,5 4
MATH 121 (or 101 or 103 or 105)2,5 4
PHYS 107, 108, 109 (or 117, 118, 119 or 101, 118, 119, 117)2,4 7
Total Credits 33
Second Year
MATH 223 (or 221), 226 (or 200 and 220)6, 227 (or 317)6, 215 12-15
PHYS 200, 203, 216 11
PHYS 219, 229 3
Electives5 4-7
Total Credits 33
Third Year
MATH 300, 301 6
MATH 316 3
MATH 320, 321 6
PHYS 301, 304 6
PHYS 306 3
PHYS 309 or 319 3
Electives5 6
Total Credits 33
Fourth Year
PHYS 401 or 4085 3-4
PHYS 402 3
PHYS 403 or 407 3
PHYS 449 6
12 credits from MATH 318, 322, 323, 400-406, 412, 416-429, 433-440, 443, 449, 450 12
Electives5 6-5
Total Credits 33
Total Credits for Degree 132

1A total of 6 credits of coursework is required to meet the Communication Requirement. ENGL 112 is recommended. For a full list of acceptable courses see Communication Requirement . Three credits of first-year English may be deferred until second year.

2First-year Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics can be replaced by Science One (25 credits).

3MATH 110 may substitute for any of the specified courses by decreasing the electives by 3 credits.

4Advanced Credit or Placement in Physics provide excellent preparation but they are NOT a substitute for these courses, which are required prerequisites for all second year Physics courses in this program. Students with AP credits should contact the Department for advice. Students without Physics 12 must take PHYS 100 prior to PHYS 101 or 107 or 117. Students must take PHYS 117 in second year if they did not take it or PHYS 107 in first year.

5The elective credits taken throughout the program must include at least 12 credits from the Faculty of Arts (excluding ENGL credits used to satisfy the Faculty of Science Communication Requirement). Up to 18 credits may be taken from any faculty but students must ensure that they have at least 48 upper-level credits, including at least 42 upper-level credits from the Faculty of Science. Students without Biology 11 or 12 must take 3 credits of 100-level BIOL. BIOL 111 or 121 are recommended. For students with Biology 11 or 12, at least 3 credits must be a science course in ASTR, ATSC, BIOL, EOSC, or GEOB. See the Biology Requirement for further details.

PHYS 210 or one Computer Science course is recommended. Students interested in senior chemistry courses or who are planning to enter a career in teaching are reminded that they should take a second course of introductory chemistry.

Some course alternates have different credit value. The number of electives in each year is chosen to balance the total number of credits (i.e., make the yearly total equal to 33). However, since the number of available elective credits may not be a multiple of three, students are permitted to move elective credits between years. A minimum of 30 credits must be taken each Winter Session.

6MATH 200 and MATH 317 in combination of MATH 220 may be substituted for MATH 226, 227. However MATH 226+227 are better preparation for some upper level MATH courses.  Students who do not obtain 68% or higher in MATH 226 must take MATH 220 and obtain 80% or higher in order to take the required MATH 320. In order to be promoted to third year, students must complete one of MATH 220, 226. MATH 223 or 221 can be taken in the first year. Eligible students are highly recommended to take MATH 223. MATH 152 can be substituted for MATH 223 under exceptional circumstances.