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Life Physics

Rocket science, meet medical science

If you enjoy biology and physics and want a career in medical technology or health research, Life Physics at Waterloo is for you.

Run by the Department of Physics and Astronomy — one of the largest and most innovative physics departments in Canada — this flexible and interdisciplinary program is based on a solid foundation of physics, chemistry, and biology.

You’ll enjoy small classes, hands-on labs, and the opportunity to get involved in research and teaching.

When you graduate, you can put your knowledge to work in cancer treatment centres, pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies, university research labs, and many other settings.

Learn from top researchers

Get the scoop on the latest research in the Physics Seminar, which brings together all Physics students for talks from top investigators.

Make friends for life

Plan to live in residence? Join the Physical Sciences Living-Learning Community to connect with students who share your passion (and get study support).


About the Life Physics program

Breifcase Available as a co-op and regular program

ClickApply to Physical Sciences, select Life Physics as your major

CapEarn a Bachelor of Science in Honours Life Physics

2Specializations: Biophysics or
Medical Physics

BeakerOffered through the Faculty of Science

trophyWaterloo is ranked top 150 in the world for physics


Life Physics admission requirements

Careers in Life Physics

Graduates of Life Physics often pursue work in fields such as medicine, radiation oncology, and medical imaging. 

Possible career fields

    • Senior Scientist, Drug Discovery, Merck Canada
    • Medical Physicist, Cancer Centres
    • Health and Safety Officer, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
    • Customer Support, Scientific instrumentation, Olympus
    • Product Developer, Christie Medical

    First-year courses

    September to December

    PHYS 10 - Physics Seminar
    BIOL 130/130L - Introductory Cell Biology/Laboratory
    CHEM 120/120L - Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter/Laboratory
    MATH 127 - Calculus 1 for the Sciences
    SCCOM 100 Communication in the Sciences
    One of:
     • PHYS 121/121L - Mechanics/Laboratory
     • PHYS 111/111L - Physics 1/Laboratory

    January to April

    PHYS 10 - Physics Seminar
    BIOL 239 - Genetics
    CHEM 123/123L - Chemical Reactions, Equilibria and Kinetics/Laboratory
    MATH 128 - Calculus 2 for the Sciences
    Choose one of:
     • PHYS 122/122L - Waves, Electricity and Magnetism/Laboratory
     • PHYS 112/112L - Physics 2/Laboratory
    1 elective


    If you're considering the Biophysics specialization, you should select MATH 114 as a first-term elective. If you're considering the Medical Physics specialization, select PHYS 124 as your elective in winter.

    What other courses will you take?

    Gain relevant work experience through co-op

    By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore new career areas and types of employers as your career interests evolve.

    Sample co-op job titles

    • Medical Device Design Assistant
    • Medical Associate
    • Research Assistant
    • TIGRESS Detector Testing

    Sample co-op employers

    • National Research Council of Canada
    • Antibody Healthcare Communications
    • TRIUMF
    • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

    Learn more about Life Physics