Study with us
Our undergraduate, Masters, and PhD programs are all deeply linked to our areas of research excellence, in quantum science, photonics, biophotonics and astronomy and astrophysics.
Astronomy and astrophysics
Bachelor of Science with a major in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Bachelor of Advanced Science with a specialisation in Astronomy and Astrophysics
More double degrees available
Bachelor of Science with a major in physics
Bachelor of Advanced Science with a specialisation in physics
More double degrees available
Higher degree research
Macquarie’s physics and astronomy research is world leading. In the most recent Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) evaluation, our physical sciences research received a rating of 5 out of 5 – ‘outstanding performance well above world standard’, as did our research in the sub-disciplines of astronomical and space sciences, and quantum physics.
As an HDR candidate you will work alongside outstanding researchers on fundamental and applied physics in optics, photonics and lasers; astronomy and astrophysics; or quantum information science.
A range of cutting-edge projects are available, involving work in areas such as:
- building powerful new lasers with pure diamond crystals
- constructing 3D quantum logic circuits using high-intensity femtosecond lasers
- designing new sensors based on levitated quantum mechanical systems
- finding cell populations with enhanced therapeutic value using advanced imaging
- harnessing the angular momentum of light at the quantum level
- studying collisions between planets and dying stars
- using nanoparticles to identify diseases
The Bachelor of Philosophy/Master of Research (BPhil/MRes) is Macquarie University's two year research training pathway program to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Master of Philosophy (MPhil). Equiping students with intensive research preparation before beginning doctoral study. Combining advanced disciplinary coursework and structured research training, the program provides graduates with greater recognition for their academic progress, enhanced employment opportunities and pathways to further study overseas.
Macquarie University has adopted a new postgraduate degree structure, making it the first Australian university to fully align with European, North American and Asian qualifications. With greater international recognition for their qualifications, graduates of the new degree will enjoy enhanced employment opportunities and pathways to further study overseas. Consistent with the well-known ‘Bologna model’, the two-year full-time Master of Research (MRes) will replace honours as the main pathway to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil).
The degree is a two year degree made up of a total of 64 credit points. The first year is 32 credit points of advanced course work, the second year is predominately research culminating in a thesis.
Enquiries can be directed to the Physics and Astronomy MRes Advisor: Joanne Dawson
Please see the following pages for all the details:
MRes Year 1
The first year of BPhil/MRes is primarily coursework. In physics, all the units in the first semester are compulsory and cover essential skills and knowledge.
|Unit Code||Unit Name|
|All the units in semester 1 are compulsory:|
|PHYS700||Research Frontiers in Physics and Astronomy 1||Unit Details|
|PHYS701||Mathematical Methods in Physics||Unit Details|
|PHYS702||Statistical Physics||Unit Details|
|PHYS703||Computational Science||Unit Details|
|Unit Code||Unit Name|
|The centrally taught MRES700 unit is compulsory:|
|MRES700||Research Communications||Unit Details|
|Selected three more units from physics or other departments (subject to approval):|
|PHYS714||Quantum Information and Technology||Unit Details|
|ASTR707||Advanced Astrophysics||Unit Details|
|ASTR708||Introduction to Particle Physics and Cosmology||Unit Details|
|PHTN702||Advanced Photonics||Unit Details|
|PHYS798||Physics and Astronomy Special Topic 1||Unit Details|
|PHYS799||Physics and Astronomy Special Topic 2||Unit Details|
Fees and Financial Support
Please see the following for details:
MRes Year 2
The second year of MRes is structured around five activities: Research Frontiers 2, literature review, research methods, research planning, and thethesis. Year two will be predominantly assessed on the thesis (90%) with a contribution from Research Frontiers 2 (10%). Satisfactory performance in the other activities is required but they do not acquire a separate formal mark.
|Schedule of tasks for year two of the physics MRes.|
Read literature; research workshops
Mandatory faculty sessions:
1. Literature Session
2. Planning Session
3. Writing Session
|February||Read literature; participate in journal club; research workshops|
Read literature; participate in journal club; research workshops
DUE: end of March – project proposal presentation to research groups
DUE: end of March – draft research project plan
Research workshops; read literature; journal club to mid April
DUE: mid April – big questions research essay
DUE: end of April – detailed MRes research plan
DUE: mid May – draft literature review
DUE: end of May – literature review
|June||Conduct research project and write thesis|
|July||Conduct research project and write thesis|
|August||Conduct research project and write thesis|
Conduct research project and write thesis
DUE: end of September – draft thesis
Finalise thesis and extend research proposal to PhD plan.
DUE: early October – thesis submission
DUE: early October – detailed PhD research plan
Activity 1: Research Frontiers 2
This activity is designed to guide students in taking a critical look at their field as a whole. Students will examine more closely the frontiers of their chosen research area answering such questions as “What are the most important recent findings? What are the big open questions? Who are the leaders in the field?” While answering these questions students will learn how to critically assess research claims.
Each week, students are expected to find and read papers from their research area and be prepared to critically discuss the articles. The class will meet with the lecturer every week, up to April, and at the meeting some students will be selected to present their chosen articles, with the ensuing guided discussions instructing the students on how to assess research papers, identify the key results, understand why they are claimed to be significant, and see how the results are justified and presented. Students will be expected to present at least two such articles, and to use a number of these articles for their written report. Guidance in analysing and discussing the journal articles will be provided by the lecturers, but students are expected to select their own articles.
Activity 2: Literature Review
Students will attend introductory classes explaining the review of scholarly literature and its relationship to their individual research project (2-4 sessions). Workshops will also be held on electronic databases, journal citations, navigating citation chains and analysing journal articles.
Students will then do a significant preliminary survey of the literature relevant to their proposed research area and of a length of approximately 5,000 words. Progress and any issues arising are to be discussed with the supervisory panel weekly.
A significant draft is required by middle of May and each student’s Supervisory Panel will give relevant advice to the student. The final review is due end of May and is expected to be incorporated into the thesis.
Activity 3: Research Methods
As part of the degree requirements, second-year MRes students are required to complete a series of research methods activities. Some of these activities are of a technical nature specific to your project. The others are of a general, professional training style and will be delivered through the Q2Q program.
To this end, second-year MRes students are required to complete 3 modules in that program, in addition to “Developing self-sufficiency through LaTeX”.
Note that “The PhD thesis” module is not appropriate for MRes students.
Activity 4: Research Planning
In addition to centrally taught sessions on project management, students are required to develop a plan to tackle their main research question. A draft research project plan will be completed for the MRes project by end of March including extension to a larger 3 year PhD project. Students will receive feedback on the research plan and possible amendments. Note that the Supervisory Panel members are expected to be closely involved in the research planning.
The students will present their project proposals to their research centres in 20 minute presentations towards the end of March. Department members are invited to attend all presentations. These presentations are assessed and reviewed by the supervisory panels with feedback to the students. If a research plan is deemed unsatisfactory, the student will again be counselled to amend the plan.
The detailed MRes research plan is due end of April, for a project of one half year duration. The MRes research plan will include the aims of the project, background and significance of the project, proposed methods, timeline and budget, and the expected outcomes. The plan should indicate the proposed path to a PhD project of 3 years duration.
A detailed PhD research plan is due at the end of October, (coinciding with the APA application deadline). This will include the aims of the wider project, background and significance of the project, proposed methods, timeline and budget, and some indication of expected outcomes.
Activity 5: Thesis
MRes students will complete research project in order to demonstrate individual research capability to conduct Major (PhD-scale) Research Project, producing a thesis equivalent to 15,000-20,000 words.
MRes students will have a supervisory panel of at least two supervisors from the beginning of the project. Note that the pattern of supervision may change as the project evolves, and one of the supervisors may take a lead role or both may participate jointly. It is also possible that additional supervisors (eg offsite) may be assigned if needed.
The department of Physics and Astronomy has undergone a huge expansion and in this exciting environment, there are many opportunities for postgraduate work towards a PhD. Scholarships are available for both Australian and international students.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy is undergoing a huge expansion and in this exciting environment, there are many opportunities for postgraduate work towards a PhD.
We are currently looking for around 20 new PhD students for 2017/2018 start dates. Scholarships are available for both Australian and International students. Scholarships provide at least $25,000 per year for living expenses, with additional support of up to $25,000 for equipment and travel.
To be eligible for direct entry to a 3-year PhD, you will need a two-year Masters, with at least one year of research. If your Masters does not fit this description, you can instead be offered a ‘bundled scholarship’ to the second year of the Macquarie University Masters of Research and then on to PhD – this four year route has a full scholarship in all years.
Interested? Read about our Research Excellence and choose a PhD Project.
Explore the three Research Themes within the Department of Physics and Astronomy:
Browse our above research, and contact individual researchers. Researchers are happy to consider applications at any time, and scholarships are available for suitable candidates.
Contact supervisors who seem to fit your needs, and discuss with them their research, and your fit with their research group.
The department of Physics and Astronomy offers several undergraduate vacation scholarships each year.
The Vacation Scholarships
- involve cutting-edge research during the summer vacation
- are open to undergraduate physics students in Australia
- have a scholarship of a tax-free stipend of up to $500 per week
- are available in areas of research excellence
- are typically awarded for 5 weeks in Jan – Feb
View a list of our previous Vacation Scholars and the projects they completed.
How to apply
Applications are now open for the 2016/2017 scholarships.
The application process comprises:
Projects on offer for 2016/2017
|Characterising Distant Galaxies by way of Spectral Energy Distribution Analysis||Michael Cowley||Extragalactic Astronomy|
|Commissioning the Huntsman Telephoto Array||Dr Lee Spitler||Extragalactic Astronomy|
|Planetarium Education Curriculum Development||Prof. Orsola De Marco, Adam Joyce||Astronomy and Education|
|Watch the watchman: A Very High Resolution Spectrograph for Calibrating Spectrograph||Dr Christian Schwab||Astronomical Instrumentation|
|A New Virtual Radio Interferometer||Dr Cormac Purcell||Radio Astronomy, Interferometry, Software Simulations and Tools|
|A Nonlinear Optics Approach to Unidirectional Lasers||Assoc. Prof David Spence||Laser Development and Nonlinear Optics|
|Atomic Force Microscope Characterisation of UV-etched Diamond Nanostructures||Assoc.Prof. Rich Mildren||Diamond Photonics|
|Quantum Random Number Generator||Assoc.Prof. Rich Mildren||Diamond Photonics|
|Nonlinearity in Random Lasers||Prof. Judith Dawes||Random Lasers|
|Identification of Microplastics Using Raman Spectroscopy||Prof. Helen Pask||Lasers and Spectroscopy|
|Spectral Fingerprinting and Imaging Using THz Radiation||Dr Andrew Lee||Lasers and Photonics|
|Measuring the Brownian Motion of Micro Particles Suspended in a Magnetic Trap||Dr James Downes||Thermodynamics and Instrumentation Physics|
|Engineering two photon states to study plasmonic structures||Assoc.Prof. Gabriel Molina-Terriza|