Courses for your Physics degree

First-year courses and beyond*

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

  • PHYS 10 – Physics Seminar
  • PHYS 122/122L – Waves, Electricity and Magnetism/Laboratory
  • PHYS 124 – Modern Physics
  • PHYS 160L – Introductory Measurement Laboratory
  • MATH 128 – Calculus 2 for the Sciences
  • CHEM123 – General Chemistry 2
  • Plus one elective

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.

*This is a sample schedule. Courses may be subject to change depending on availability each term.

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.

Next steps