Welcome to the School of Physics

Physics is crucial to understanding the world around us, the world inside us, and the world beyond us. It challenges our imaginations with concepts like relativity and quantum mechanics, and has provided the foundations for many new technologies that have changed our lives: mobile phones, the internet, and magnetic resonance imagers (MRI) are only a few examples of physics-based technological developments that have revolutionised our world.

Institute of Physics Accredited degree courses on offer in the School of Physics encompass the study of the universe from the largest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles and include topics ranging from the atmosphere and environment to medical physics. However, the importance of physics isn't limited to the "hard sciences". Increasingly, physicists are turning their talents to diverse fields such as molecular biology, archaeology, medicine, the arts and even the world of finance. In Galway, we have a strong tradition of providing "hands-on" degrees in Physics and our graduates are much in demand.

Why Study Physics?

Physics is the fundamental science. It seeks to understand the basic laws governing the structure of matter, the nature of energy and the physical forces that form our world. Its span of interest ranges from the nature of the short-range forces which operate inside the atomic nucleus to the origin and structure of the universe.

If you have an enquiring mind, and are interested in discovering how things work, then this could be the course for you. The Bachelor of Science (Physics – degree options in Applied, Astrophysics, Biomedical, Theoretical) four year degree offers you great flexibility in how you can study physics. It gives you the opportunity to experience a number of subjects along with core Physics before specialising in your chosen pathway in third year.


Teaching in the School of Physics is strongly influenced by our research based in our three research clusters: Photonics & Laser Applications; Atmospheric and Environmental Physics; and the Centre for Astronomy. Physics is challenging, interesting, relevant, and it can prepare you for great jobs in a wide variety of places. Why not pursue a physics degree with us here in NUI, Galway and let us share our knowledge and enthusiasm with you?

From day 1, you can follow a direct path to obtaining a degree in Physics by registering for our denominated programme GY320(which has degree options in Applied Physics, Astrophysics, Theoretical Physics and Biomedical Physics) or you can keep some flexibility in your subject choices by registering for Undenominated Science GY301.

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The School of Physics is committed to the promotion and understanding of science. We offer on-site presentations, lab tours and a transition year programme. Members of the Centre for Astronomy hold regular open nights and the school of physics coordinated the successful Sea2Sky event in 20011/12. In addition the school hosts GoPhoton! an initiative of ECOP and sponsored by the European Commission to promote light and light-based technologies during the UNESCO Year of Light 2015. GoPhoton! has developed the Photonics Explorer Photonics Toolkit and two smartphone apps intended for secondary schools, industry and the general public, to experiment and play with photonics.


The School of Physics provides Structured PhD, Taught Masters, Masters by Research, Full-Time or Part-Time training programmes that are highly relevant to future environmental, technical, and productive / economic global challenges.

  • Projects in environmental physics investigate effects of climate change and global warming;
  • Programmes in biophotonics, applied optics and laser technologies explore photonics – new applications of light;
  • Astronomical observations stimulates new insights and understanding of the universe;
  • Research in medical and bio-physics underpins new technologies in healthcare and occupational health.

Research training in these areas is complemented by advanced discipline-specific courses and extensive training in generic and transferrable skills. 

The School of Physics offers three taught masters programmes: Medical Physics (MSc), Occupational and Environmental Health & Safety (MSc/HDipAppSc, Full-Time or Part-Time) and Key Enabling Technologies (KETs,  (MSc, Full-Time or Part-Time)).

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Equality & Diversity: Juno

Juno Practitioner

In 2013, NUI Galway’s School of Physics’ work in promoting equal opportunities in science was rewarded by the Institute of Physics: the School has been made a Practitioner under the Institute’s Juno Project, the first university in Ireland to achieve this status.

The Juno Project, established by the Institute of Physics in 2007, aspires to redress the long-standing issue of the under-representation of women at the highest levels of physics academia in the UK and Ireland. The aim of Juno is to recognise and reward departments that can demonstrate that action has been taken to address the under-representation of women in university physics and to encourage better practice for both women and men. Learn More

International Students

If you are currently enrolled at an overseas college or university and you wish to spend a semester or year at NUI Galway as a Visiting Student, you can apply through your home college’s Study Abroad office or through an approved study abroad programme provider. Currently NUIG School of Physics hosts students from Science Without Borders, Erasmus and US exchange programmes. 

Contact Matt Redman for details.

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