Courses for your Physics degree

First-year courses

Programs/majors in the Faculty of Science start right in first year. To select your program with confidence, here’s some handy info to get you started.

September to December

January to April

  • CHEM 123 – General Chemistry 2
  • MATH 128 – Calculus 2 for the Sciences
  • PHYS 10 – Physics Seminar
  • PHYS 122/122L – Waves, Electricity and Magnetism/Laboratory
  • PHYS 124 – Modern Physics
  • PHYS 160L – Introductory Measurement Laboratory
  • Plus one elective

This a sample schedule. Courses or when a course is offered may change depending on availability.

Note: First-year courses CHEM 120/CHEM 120L, and CHEM 123 may be replaced by first-year BIOL or EARTH courses.

After first year

Most of the classes you’ll take will be Physics courses and some Math courses. With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.

View a list of all the courses required for your Physics major.

Sample upper-year courses

PHYS 234 – Quantum Physics 1
PHYS 242 – Electricity and Magnetism 1
PHYS 256 – Geometrical and Physical Optics
PHYS 358 – Thermal Physics


Types of courses you'll take

55% physics, 12% math, 5% chemistry, 25% free electives, 3% communications

This is a general guideline. The ratio of courses may change slightly from year to year.

Skills you'll develop with this major

  • Systematic, rigorous, and flexible problem solving
  • Qualitative and quantitative/numerical analysis
  • Applied programming and data analysis
  • Laboratory experimental procedures and methodologies
  • Communication of complex ideas

This isn't an exhaustive list – rather a glimpse into the skills a Physics major can provide.

Your experience will be unique, and the skills you develop will depend on your goals; which courses you take; and your involvement with any clubs, jobs, or research projects.


Advisors are here to help

With so much flexibility, you might have a lot of questions. We're here to help! If you're applying for admission, contact our Faculty of Science recruitment co-ordinator.

Once you're a Waterloo student, you'll have access to academic advisors who can help you

  • choose your courses,
  • select minors and specializations,
  • ensure that you're meeting the requirements for your degree, and more.

Learn more

Overview of Waterloo's Physics degree program.