Skip to main content

Physics (Common Entry)

Physics (Common Entry)
NFQ Level 8 major Award Honours Bachelor Degree

CAO points history:
Course code:
4 Years

Course leader:
Dr. Ian Clancy
Email: Tel:
353 61 202371
Tel: 00 353 61 202015

Do you ever wonder:

  • How did the universe begin?
  • How does the sun keep shining?
  • How can we store so much information on something as small as a microSD card?
  • How does your mobile device know when to change the orientation of the screen depending on how you hold it?
  • How is the weather so unpredictable more than a few days into the future?
  • How can we create technological solutions to address problems like global climate change and the need for renewable energies?
  • How can we form images down to the scale of individual atoms?

If these questions interest you and you want flexibility in choosing a career then studying Physics at UL is your best choice.

Why Study Physics in UL?

Physics is the study of matter and energy and their interaction: so it is the study of everything in the physical world. In order to learn about nature it is necessary to understand the language that she speaks in. This language is mathematics. A physicist uses the tools of experiment and mathematics to uncover the relationships found in nature as Physics.

Physicists get to ask the big questions and their work enables them to form answers. Physics describes the Universe from the very largest size (of the Universe itself) to the very small sizes of atoms and even subatomic particles. By asking and answering these big questions rather than simply observing nature, physicists can use the knowledge gained to control natural phenomena in the form of technology.

Albert Einstein’s development of General Relativity in the early 20th century was initially used to describe gravity around large celestial bodies such as the Sun, galaxies or even black holes. Einstein’s theory has found modern-day application in the Global Positioning System (GPS) that many of us regularly use to navigate our journeys. Without Einstein’s theory, and the physicists who understood it, GPS would simply not have worked.

Quantum Mechanics was developed by physicists to describe the smallest of objects; atoms and subatomic particles. Physicists then identifed how to control the flow of electrons in matter. This work has led directly to the development of modern digital computers. When you use your computer/mobile device you are using the technologies initially developed by physicists.

The examples described above involved developing a theory in Physics from conception through to a technological application. Physicists are part of this process at every step from theory to application. This flexibility for physicists in the workplace is one of the strengths of a Physics degree. A Physics degree imparts knowledge of the physical world, along with strong mathematical and problem-solving skills.

Physicists also have a broad knowledge of subjects that other disciplines would find dificult to match including Quantum Mechanics, Optics, Thermal Physics, Electromagnetism, Semiconductors, Solid State Physics, and Nanotechnology. The detailed knowledge of these areas ensures that good physics graduates will always be in demand by industry.

Physicists can also undertake research in either industry or academia. Faculty in the Department of Physics are actively involved in research in areas such as:

  • Flow batteries for large scale energy storage,
  • Using light to transmit information rather than electrons in wires (Nanoplasmonics),
  • Computational modelling of assemblies comprising millions of atoms to determine properties of various materials,
  • Using electron microscopy to determine the structure of nanoscale materials and to investigate novel 2-D materials like graphene,
  • Microelectromechanical structures and devices for biomedical applications.

In your final year of study you will undertake a project working on these or other topics alongside and guided by established researchers in the Department.

Physics is a fascinating subject to study that develops strong mathematical and problem-solving skills with a deep understanding of topics that are of particular relevance to new and developing technologies in both research and industry.

Read about our students experiences

UL Helped Me Reach the Sky

"Back in Transition Year in school, my goal was to get into UL and then go to Boeing. For the next three years, my dream was slowly realised."

Read More

UL - The Ultimate Student Experience

"When I chose to do International Business, l really didn’t know what to expect from my time in UL, but I can say I’ve had a great experience here and the day I leave UL will be a sad one for me&

Read More

From Club, to County - How UL Propels Its Sports Scholars

"Four years later, and without a doubt, UL has offered me everything I wanted, if not more"

Read More

What you will study

In the first semester, you will study topics in physics including mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, and methods of measurement. You will also study general chemistry and topics in mathematics including linear algebra and calculus. Before the end of Semester 1, you will choose whether you wish to pursue a degree in

Applied Physics


Mathematics and Physics

The major distinction between these two programmes is that Applied Physics includes physical chemistry and electronics, subjects that the Mathematics and Physics programme omits in favour of developing stronger mathematical skills.

  Semester 1
MS4021 Calculus 1
MS4131 Linear Algebra 1
PH4131 Mechanics/Heat/Electricity/Magnetism
PH4051 Measurement & Properties of Matter
CH4701 General Chemistry 1

Entry requirements

CAO points history 404
Minimum grades

Applicants are required to hold at the time of enrolment the established Leaving Certificate (or an approved equivalent) with a minimum of six subjects which must include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, Irish or another language, and English.

Subject requirements

In addition, applicants must hold a minimum grade H4 in Mathematics and a grade H4 in any one of the following: Applied Mathematics, Chemistry, Engineering, Physics, Physics with Chemistry.

Additional considerations

A Special Mathematics Examination will be offered at UL following the Leaving Certificate results for those students who did not achieve the Mathematics requirement.

We welcome applications from mature students. Mature applicants must apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO) by 1 February

Fees & funding

Student course fees are broken into three components - Student contribution, Student Centre Levy and Tuition Fees.

A number of illustrative examples of fees for this course based on the current fee levels have been set out in the tables below.

An explanation of the components, how to determine status and the criteria involved is provided below the examples as is a list of possible scholarships and funding available.

EU Students with Free fees status in receipt of a SUSI grant

HEA paysTuition Fees€4,262
SUSI paysStudent contribution€3,000
Student paysStudent Centre Levy€92

EU Students with Free fees status not in receipt of a grant

HEA paysTuition Fees€4,262
Student paysStudent contribution€3,000
Student paysStudent Centre Levy€92

Students with EU fee status not in receipt of a grant

Student paysTuition Fees€4,262
Student paysStudent contribution€3,000
Student paysStudent Centre Levy€92

Non-EU Students

Student paysTuition Fees€16,373
Student paysStudent Centre Levy€92

Student course fees are comprised of three components:

Student Contribution

Annual charge set by the government for all full-time third level students. All students are liable unless they have been approved for a grant by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). Please refer to to determine your eligibility for a grant and for instructions on how to apply. The curent student contribution is set at €3000.

Student Centre Levy

All students are liable to pay the Student Centre Levy of €90. Please note the Student Centre Levy is not covered by the SUSI Grant.

Tuition Fees

These are based on Residency, Citizenship, Course requirements.

Review the three groups of criteria to determine your fee status as follows

  1. Residency
    • You must have been living in an EU/EEA member state or Switzerland for at least 3 of the 5 years before starting your course
  2. Citizenship
    • You must be a citizen of an EU/EEA member state or Switzerland or have official refugee status
  3. Course Requirements (all must be met)
    • You must be a first time full-time undergraduate (Exceptions are provided for students who hold a Level 6 or Level 7 qualification and are progressing to a Level 8 course in the same general area of study).
    • You must be undertaking a full-time undergraduate course of at least 2 year’s duration
    • You cannot be undertaking a repeat year of study at the same level unless evidence of exceptional circumstances eg serious illness is provided (in which case this condition may be waived)

Depending on how you meet these criteria your status will be one of the following -

More information about fees can be found on the Finance website


These scholarships are available for this course

Title Award Scholarships available
Intel, Shannon Women in Technology Scholarship
€2,000 grant for the remainder of your degree
The George Gooberman Memorial Prize for Excellence in Physics
Royal Irish Academy Hamilton Awards – Mathematics
The Ei Electronics Women in Engineering Scholarship
€2,500 for 3 years

These scholarships are available for all courses

Title Award Scholarships available
Johnson and Johnson WiSTEM2D Programme
Individual Award - a bursary to the value of €2000. Team Project Grant - €1750
1 of each
Plassey Campus Centre Scholarship Programme
All Ireland Scholarships - sponsored by J.P. McManus
Higher Education Grants & VEC Grants
Financial Aid Fund
Elaine Fagan Scholarship
Stuart Mangan Scholarship
Provincial GAA Bursaries Scheme
The Michael Hillery and Jacinta O’Brien Athletics Scholarship
Various benefits equating to over €7,000 in value
Paddy Dooley Rowing Scholarship
UL Sports Scholarships
Varies depending on level of Scholarship
Cooperative Education Award
1 award per faculty
UL 40 Entrance Scholarship

Your future career

Physics graduates work in jobs such as:

  • Research and Development Engineer
  • Process Engineer
  • Researcher
  • Medical Physicist
  • Consultant/Analyst
  • Software developer
  • Manager

Many of our graduates, for instance, are employed by market leaders such as Intel Ireland and Analog Devices. Yet Applied Physics is sufficiently broad in scope that our graduates also work throughout the high technology sector in companies focussed on areas such as energy, telecommunications, medical physics and nano-technology.

Recent graduates have established careers in areas like;

  • Semiconductor Devices and Microelectronics
  • Lasers and Optoelectronics
  • Sensors
  • Telecommunications
  • Materials Science
  • Geophysics
  • Bio and Medical Physics
  • Energy

Follow-on Study

Our graduates have a good understanding of mathematics and experimental techniques allowing further study to MSc and PhD levels in various areas of science, engineering, mathematics and even quantitative areas of finance and economics.