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Physics encompasses a wide spectrum of interesting areas, from the study of planets to the workings of microwaves. In general physicists focus on matter and energy, and the sometimes tempestuous relationship between them.

A various number of industries employ physicists to aid development and the manufacturing process. They can assist all kinds of businesses with any number of problems. The only certainty is that the prospects are substantial for physics graduates. It wouldn’t take Einstein to figure out why this is a good career choice!


Physics degrees are dedicated to either theoretical or applied branches, or they involve a combination of both.

Theoretical physicists ask awkward and important questions. How did the universe begin? What is it made of? What is the nature of time? Why can’t I stop asking questions? They seek to develop a rigorous understanding of the laws of the physical world and generally work for research institutions or universities, or conduct high-level research for organisations.

Applied Physics seeks to find practical applications and solutions to real world problems. For example, applied physics knowledge and experiments can assist with the development of advanced industrial and engineering materials, new energy sources, medical equipment, microelectronics and laser optical devices.

Astronomy is a highly popular pastime among amateur enthusiasts but a Physics with Astronomy (or Astrophysics) degree takes it a step further, studying the latest knowledge in space science and technology, black holes, star formation and cosmology. In addition, students often have the exciting opportunity to work with the latest date recorded by telescopes and observatories around the world.

Physics and Instrumentation courses examine the latest technologies used to measure and control variables such as temperature, light and pressure.   Graduates work in inventing and developing devices, ranging from electric guitars to ultrasound machines.

The Work

There are a huge number of career paths open to physics graduates in areas as diverse as astronomy, financial risk analysis, weather forecasting, computer game development, medical device manufacturing and telecommunications.

Physics is arguably the most theoretical of the traditional science disciplines. Physicists try to understand how things work by developing simulations and models, designing and carrying out experiments, using mathematical equations, and writing up their observations and findings in reports and scientific papers.

Most physicists divide their time between the laboratory and the computer. Physicists use super-fast computers to develop a model or theory and test it, with the computer performing many of the difficult and time-consuming calculations and raising any problems or errors. Then it’s off to the lab, where machines such as electron microscopes, particle accelerators, radioactive tracers and spectrometers are used to test whether the theories work in practice.

Physicists need a combination of imagination and practicality. For a considerable chunk of their time physicists identify a problem and attempt a series of experiments to solve it; this can be a frustrating process so perseverance is important.

An over average mathematical ability is necessary and, due to the amount of presentations and experiments, good oral and written skills are useful.

Physicists can work in laboratories, workshops and offices – dividing their time between high-tech, expensive electronic equipment and computers. Many physicists’ work involves travel to communicate with and learn from other experts. Astronomers may travel even further.

Did you know?

All the matter that makes up the human race could fit in a sugar cube, as atoms are 99.9999999999999 per cent empty space.

Further Resources

Institute of Physics in Ireland
Astronomy Ireland
European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
Music and Dance
Career Profile Languages: Working as a Translator and Interpreter


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