Courses for your Physics and Astronomy 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


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 Biology or Earth Science 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 degree.

Sample upper-year courses 

PHYS 375 – Stars
PHYS 461 – Nanophysics
PHYS 474 – Galaxies
PHYS 476 – Introduction to General Relativity

Types of courses you'll take

57% physics, 12% math, 5% chemistry, 23% 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

  • Applied programming and data analysis
  • Image analysis and manipulation
  • Building and working with detector technology
  • Statistical analysis techniques applicable to a wide range of disciplines
  • Telescope operation

This isn't an exhaustive list – rather a glimpse into the skills a Physics and Astronomy 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 and Astronomy degree program.