Skip to main content »

Trinity College Dublin

Physics and astrophysics

  • Course Type: Undergraduate
  • Course Code: TR071
  • Min Entry Points 2011:470* points
  • Duration: 4 Years Full Time
  • Award: B.A.
  • Course Options:

    Students who wish to study Physics or Physics and astrophysics apply to the Science degree (TR071) and may select one of these two courses as their specialist subject for the 3rd and 4th years.

    Junior Freshman (first) year prerequisites: Mathematics, Physics.

    Senior Freshman (second year) prerequisites: Mathematics, Physics.

    For details of the first two years of the Science course, including entry requirements, see TR071: Science (common entry).

    Physics is also an important part of the following courses:

    TR035: Theoretical physics
    TR076: Nanoscience, physics and chemistry of advanced materials
    TR071: Physics

Physics and astrophysics

Since before the dawn of human civilisation man has gazed in wonder at the night sky. The exploration of our solar system and the universe beyond continues to fascinate us. Astrophysics is still a major part of human endeavour in science.

At the end of the Senior Freshman (second) year, you may choose to study for a degree in Physics and astrophysics by substituting roughly one quarter of the general physics courses with astrophysics courses in the final two years.

In the Junior Sophister (third) year the astrophysics courses range over modern astronomical instrumentation, spectroscopy, space plasmas, stellar evolution, galaxies and an introduction to general relativity and modern cosmology. There is hands-on experience of astrophysical observation in the third-year laboratory, using optical and radio telescopes.

In the Senior Sophister (final) year astrophysics lectures provide a more in-depth study of our own solar system, planetary systems around other stars, interstellar matter and galaxies. There is also a focus on modern developments in astronomy, such as dark matter, black holes and supernovae. Senior Sophister students carry out either a physics or an astrophysics research project with the opportunity of working at an observatory in Ireland or abroad.

Study abroad

Final-year students in both Physics and Physics and astrophysics may get the opportunity to carry out their research project at a laboratory or observatory abroad. In recent years students have worked at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, at the Universities of Potsdam and Regensburg in Germany, at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the United States and at the European Space Agency in Madrid.

Career opportunities

Physics graduates are always in demand in Ireland and elsewhere in modern high-technology industries, as well as in teaching. You may also find a career in academic institutions, government and industrial research organisations and production facilities, or the meteorological service. There are diverse opportunities in electronics, telecommunications, biophysics, hospital and health physics, automation and computing. There is also a wide range of careers for which employers value the skills of problem-solving that come with the degree. It could also be a useful primary training for a legal, managerial or actuarial career for which a technical background is very attractive.

Did you know?

  • The School of Physics in Trinity College is the biggest physics department in Ireland (north or south). Over 100 physics graduates from Trinity College and other universities are currently doing research leading to Masters and PhD degrees. Much of this research is in collaboration with research groups in other leading universities and institutes around the world.

Further information
Tel: +353 1 896 1675

Student profile

Claire Raftery, PhD student in Solar Astrophysics.

"I began my career as a scientist at Trinity College Dublin. Having studied Physics, Applied Maths and honors Maths in secondary school, I decided that a general science degree would suit me best. I knew I wanted to be a scientist but I wasn't sure what area I would like to work in so I decided to apply for the Natural Science course at Trinity. This University has a world-renowned Physics Department, with some of the best facilities in the country. I studied Maths, Chemistry and Physics for two years and decided to specialise in Astrophysics in my third year. Over the next two years, I spent six weeks studying at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida and three months working as an intern at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

I am now a PhD student in the Astrophysics Research Group and I study the mechanisms involved in the cooling of solar flares. I call on the subjects I studied as an undergraduate every day, from nuclear structure to atomic physics and from electromagnetism to spectroscopy. I now spend three to four months a year working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center with world leaders in this field. After completing my PhD, I plan to continue my research at NASA or one of the other influential intuitions around the world."

||Last Updated: Oct 07 2012