pic_saturn pic_earth
1,000,000,000 metre
millions of kilometres - distance scale to the planets
1,000,000 metre
thousands of kilometres - the scale of satellite orbits
pic_distancekm pic_people
1,000 metre
kilometres - the scale for distances we travel
1 metre
the metre - the scale we use to measure our own height
pic_micro pic_atoms
0.000001 metre
micrometres - the scale of dustmites crawling on a nanomachine
0.000000001 metre
nanometres - the scale of the atomic arrangement of materials around us

Why study Physics?

A recent survey by the Institute of Physics (IoP, 2011) of 822 physics graduates from all third level colleges in Ireland provides strong evidence that a degree in physics leads to well paid employment in highly diverse fields. Key facts which emerged include:

  • "High salaries - the survey found that 14% of graduates earn more than €100,000 a year
  • Employment in sectors ranging from high-tech industries to the arts and the media
  • Widely sought after skill sets such as problem solving, team working and creativity
  • An increasing number of women are pursuing a career in physics: just under a third of the survey respondents were female
  • Graduates with a higher level physics qualification (Masters, PhD) are contributing to Ireland’s rapidly growing third level research community in disciplines such as ICT, biotechnology and nanotechnology to name but a few".

What is Physics?

Physics ("knowledge of nature") is the science concerned with the discovery and understanding of the most basic fundamental laws of the universe that control the way everything in the world around us behaves. Discoveries in basic physics have important ramifications for all of science.

Physics attempts to describe the natural world by the application of logic scientific methods, including modeling by theoreticians. As a core scientific discipline, physics is concerned with the fundamental laws that govern the behaviour of everything from the smallest elementary particle to the evolution of the Universe, which includes living and non-living organisms.

Physics may be thought of as the foundational science, upon which stand the "central sciences" for example nuclear science, chemistry, biological sciences, and material sciences. The applications of physics in everyday life are extremely broad; this fact is reflected in the fact that physics is important in just about all technologies.

About Physics

If you have an enquiring mind, always asking why things happen or how things work, then physics will help you find the answers.

Physics is the science that deals with matter (solids, liquids, gases and everthing that is made up from them), all forms of energy and the interaction of these two things. It looks at things on the largest scales and greatest distances conceivable such as the planets, stars and the universe and goes right down to the smallest sizes imaginable with nanotechnology, molecules, atoms, the nucleus and subatomic particles. It seeks to explain electricity, light, sound, heat, it deals with space and everything in it, it deals with time and everything tied to it. Physics tries to figure out the most basic of laws in the universe that control the way everything in the world around us behaves. Its applications in everyday life are extremely broad.


Programmes in Physics

The DIT School of Physics is one of the largest Physics Departments in the State. At DIT, we offer a number of programmes in different aspects of physics from technology to medical and clinical areas such as clinical measurement and optometry.

Student Final Year Projects

Every year, our final year students write a thesis on their project work in physics which is laboratory or research based and is often carried out with research scientists in DIT or with medical practitioners in hospitals and elsewhere. An abstract is also published in the annual School of Physics Yearbook.

Graduate students' research

The School of Physics has many active research groups and graduate students in physics from DIT and elsewhere are carrying out projects in many areas of physics such as nanotechnology, lasers, communications, medical physics, materials science and others.

What sort of job can I get with a Physics Degree?

There is a wide range of careers for which physics provides a good initial training, many of them using the methodology of physics: the logical approach, the ability to build and test models and the numerical and problem solving skills, which are inherent in any physics degree. The more obvious career directions for a graduate include academic and industrial research, working in physics-based industries such as electronics, alternative energy development or communications and the critical and growing area of medical physics.

Physicists are also in demand, particularly for their analytical skills, in a range of financial, fund management and research roles, in the law, in management consultancy, as weather forecasters, computer programmers and, in a major shortage area, as physics and science teachers.

About one third of all physicists work in public service industries; one third in private industry and one third in secondary and higher education.

Some physicists work on problems at the frontiers of knowledge; others tackle the challenging problems which arise in the application of physical ideas to industrial and engineering problems - offering personal satisfaction as great as that from work in 'frontier' physics. The highest paid sectors are finance, telecommunications and the electrical industry.

Institute of Physics Bursaries of €1500 per annum

The Institute of Physics (http://www.iop.org) will be offering means-tested bursaries of up to £1000 (approx €1500) a year to undergraduates studying physics in the UK and Ireland. The scheme will launch in the academic year 2006/7. Only students from the UK and Ireland on courses accredited by the Institute will be eligible for consideration. Full details of the scheme will be available on the Institute's website as soon as they are finalised (http://education.iop.org/Schools/suptstu/ubs.html)