Combined Honours Physics and Astronomy

This program is designed for students intending to pursue post-graduate studies in Astronomy or Astrophysics. However with a suitable choice of upper level electives a student could enter graduate school in any area of Physics. An advanced degree (Ph.D.) is now generally a requirement for a scientist position at most observatories and academic institutions. The requirements for Honours Physics and Astronomy 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 Honours Physics and Astronomy 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, Honours 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 available.

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

Year 1 - Terms 1 and 2 Description Credits
PHYS 106, 108, 119 (or 117,118,119 or Science 1) + 129 is recommended1,2 Enriched Physics I, Enriched Physics II and Enriched Experimental Physics 7
CHEM 121 (111)2 Structural Chemistry 4
MATH 120 (or 100 or 102 or 104 or 180 or 184)
and 121 (or 101 or 103 or 105)2
Differential and Integral Calculus 8-6
Communication Requirements3   6
Electives2,4   8-10
Total Credits Year 1   33

1Advanced Credit or Placement in Physics are provide excellent preparation but they are NOT a substitute for these courses, which are required prerequisites for all second year Physics and Astronomy courses. Students with AP credits should contact the Department for advice. Students without Physics 12 should take PHYS 100 before PHYS 131 or PHYS 106 or PHYS 117. Students that took PHYS 131 may enter the specialization but will need to take PHYS 106, 117, or 170 before the required PHYS 216. Students must complete PHYS 119 lab before they can take PHYS 129 Enriched lab. The PHYS 129 Enriched lab is recommended for all PHAS program specializations.

2First-year physics, chemistry, and mathematics can be replaced by Science One (25 credits).

3A 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.

4 Elective credits together with required courses must fulfill the Faculty of Science’s:
a) Foundational Requirement;
b) Laboratory Science Requirement;
c) Science Breadth Requirement;
d) Science and Arts Requirements;
e) Upper-level Requirement;
f) General Degree Requirements.
Honours specializations have additional requirements, see Introduction to Degree Options.

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. In first year, 2 of the elective credits can be used to take the 4-credit MATH 120 and 121. Some course alternates have different credit value. The number of elective credits is chosen to balance the total number of credits taken each year (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.

Year 2 - Term 1 Description Credits
ASTR 200 Frontiers of Astrophysics 3
PHYS 200 Relativity and Quanta 4
PHYS 2195 Intermediate Experimental Physics I 2
PHYS 2105 Introduction to Computational Physics 3
MATH 2176 Multivariable Vector Calculus 4
MATH 223 (221)7 Linear Algebra 3
Year 2 - Term 2 Description Credits
ASTR 205 Stars and Stellar Populations 3
PHYS 203 Thermodynamics 4
PHYS 216 Intermediate Mechanics 3
PHYS 229 Intermediate Experimental Physics II 1
MATH 215 Elementary Differential Equations I 3
Total Credits Year 2   33

5Computing skills at the level of PHYS 210 are required in the specialization. 

6Students who are interested in taking MATH 320+MATH 321 are advised to substitute MATH 226+227 for MATH 217. MATH 200+MATH 317 can also be substituted for MATH 217. Either substitution would require using 3 credits of Science elective for MATH 227 or MATH 317.

7MATH 152 can be substituted for MATH 223 under exceptional circumstances. MATH 223 or 221 can be taken in first year. Eligible students are highly recommended to take MATH 223.

Year 3 - Term 1 Description Credits
ASTR 300 Galaxies 3
PHYS 301 Electricity and Magnetism 3
PHYS 304 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 3
MATH 300 Complex Variables 3
MATH 316 Elementary Differential Equations II 3
Electives4   0-3
Year 3 - Term 2 Description Credits
ASTR 407 Planetary Science 3
PHYS 306 Mechanics 3
PHYS 408 Optics 4
MATH 318 Probability with Physical Applications 3
Electives4   2-5
Total Credits year 3   33


Year 4 - Terms 1 and 2 Description Credits
ASTR 406 High-Energy Astrophysics 3
ASTR 404 Astronomical and Astrophysical Measurements 3
ASTR 405 (or PHYS 4098) Astronomical Lab ( or Experimental Physics) 3
ASTR 449 (or PHYS 449) Honours Thesis 6
PHYS 402 Applications of Quantum Mechanics 3
PHYS 403 Statistical Mechanics 3
Electives4,9   12
Total Credits Year 4   33
Total Credits to Graduate   132

8Any Honours Physics and Astronomy student who does not have the course prerequisite should consult an undergraduate physics and astronomy advisor for permission to take PHYS 409.

9For those intending to enter graduate school in Astronomy ASTR 403 and PHYS 407 are recommended. For those interested in graduate school in Physics PHYS 401 and MATH 400 are recommended. Other suggestions are PHYS 400, 405 407, 410, 437, 447, 473, 474. Some suggestions for Science electives are: EECE 480 as well as MATH 400, 401,402, 405, 418, 420, and 450.