Western University Physics adn AstronomyWestern Science

Physics Program Requirements

All Physics graduate students, M.Sc. and Ph.D. are required to take the Physics Graduate Seminar Course, a Milestone, offered during each Fall and Winter terms of the program. Each student needs to give one talk a year on the progress of his/her research project.

The Physics core graduate courses (half courses) are:

Students are encouraged to take as many of these core courses as fit in their course package discussed and approved by the AC. Foundations of Physics (Physics 9610, half course) is the course on which the Comprehensive Exam Component 1 is based. 

Graduate students engaged in interdisciplinary research groups that need training in two and sometimes three different disciplines need flexibility in their course work. They should take Physics 9610 to prepare for the Comprehensive, but can still enroll in fitting core courses to deepen their knowledge in the particular course. The course package can be assembled out of all graduate courses offered by the departments of the Faculties of Science, Engineering and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. In special cases, the AC might recommend courses from other Faculties.

MSc Candidates

The funded length of each program is 2 years, although many students complete it more quickly. Both programs culminate in either a research thesis or a research project.  

Report Based:

The Physics M.Sc. Thesis Based degree requires the completion of 3 graduate courses (half courses) and a research project. One of these courses can be Physics 9610, the remaining two courses are to be discussed with and approved by the AC. If Physics 9610 is not chosen than the three core courses or a combination of core courses should be taken. The Research Report is not defended by the student, but approved and assigned a grade by the AC.

Thesis Based:

The Physics M.Sc. Thesis Based degree requires the completion of 3 graduate courses (half courses) and a research thesis. One of these courses can be Physics 9610, the remaining two courses are to be discussed with and approved by the AC. If Physics 9610 is not chosen than the three core courses or a combination of core courses should be taken. The Research Thesis is defended by the student.

PhD Candidates

The funded length of each program is 4 years, and requires completion of a comprehensive examination and a research thesis. PhD candidates are expected to obtain marks of at least 85% in all their courses. 

The Physics’ Ph.D. program requires the course work for the Physics’ M.Sc. degree plus 3 additional graduate courses. This course package must include Physics 9610 or alternatively the three physics core courses. The graduate course package is individually designed for each student on the student’s
needs by the AC. The AC may recommend additional courses to be taken if they feel that the student lacks the required background for the student's research area. The Graduate Chair approval is necessary for all graduate course packages.

All Physics’ Ph.D. Students must pass the 2 component Physics Comprehensive Exam.

Direct transfer from the MSc physics degree to the PhD degree is possible. A student can request this transfer any time after 2 terms of MSc study, and the decision is made by the student's Advisory Committee. Superior performance in coursework and tangible evidence of research ability is required for the transfer to be approved. If either of these two criteria is questionable the Graduate Chair has the final decision about the transfer.

A student starting directly in one of the Ph.D. programs is given 12 terms for completing the degree, while a student who transfers from a M.Sc. program to the Ph.D. program is given 15 terms (all together) for the completion of the degree.

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