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Department of Physics | Faculty of Science Simon Fraser University Calendar | Spring 2018


Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

A master's degree, or the equivalent, in physics, or the equivalent is required. Applicants whose primary language is not English must submit English proficiency examination results that meet the University minimum requirements for graduate admission, as per Graduate General Regulation 1.3.12.

Students who have demonstrated strong academic and research performance may transfer directly from the Master's program to the doctoral program, with the approval of the student's supervisory committee. See also the Graduate General Regulations on University transfer requirements.

Program Requirements

Overall Requirements

  1. PhD students must demonstrate the ability to perform and disseminate independent research that makes a significant, publishable contribution to knowledge in the discipline.
  2. PhD students must demonstrate the following disciplinary knowledge:
    • mastery of the core subjects in physics, which include classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics;
    • mastery of more specialized topics related to one's research topic; and
    • breadth of knowledge in physics at an advanced level.

Course Requirements

The minimum course requirements for the Physics PhD program are determined on an individual basis. Upon admission, the graduate program committee will review a student's previous coursework and set minimum requirements according to the guidelines provided below. In exceptional circumstances, the graduate program committee may allow the student to proceed without additional course work over and above that for a master's degree. With the approval of the graduate program committee, the supervisory committee may also require additional coursework beyond those specified at admission to the PhD program.

PhD course requirement guidelines

For a student entering the PhD program after completing an MSc in Physics at SFU, the minimum course requirement is 9 additional graduate units, which will include any of the following core courses that were not completed previously:

Core Professional Skills

PHYS 801 - Student Seminar (1)

Discussion of recent developments in physics, based on student seminars. Attendance is required for all first and second year students proceeding toward MSc or PhD degrees in physics. Course offered regularly.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Karen kavanagh
Fr 1:30 PM – 4:20 PM
WMC 3260, Burnaby
G200 Karen kavanagh
PHYS 802 - Introduction to Graduate Studies: Research and Teaching in Physics (2)

Basic skills for research and teaching in physics. Required for all students beginning an MSc or PhD degree in physics. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Core Physics Content

PHYS 810 - Advanced Quantum Mechanics (3)

Advanced non-relativistic and some basic relativistic quantum mechanics: symmetries, Schroedinger/Heisenberg pictures, mixtures, variational and perturbative methods, Dirac equation. Prerequisite: PHYS 415, or equivalent.

PHYS 821 - Advanced Electromagnetism I (3)

Advanced topics in classical electromagnetic theory: review of Maxwell's equations in free space and in macroscopic media, with applications in contemporary research; relativistic unification of electromagnetism; Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods in electromagnetism. Prerequisite: PHYS 421 or equivalent.

PHYS 841 - Statistical Mechanics (3)

Review of ensembles and thermodynamics, ideal gases, imperfect classical gases, classical and modern theories of phase transitions, renormalization group. Course offered regularly. Prerequisite: PHYS 445 or equivalent.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Igor Herbut
Tu, Th 11:30 AM – 1:20 PM
AQ 5030, Burnaby

Graduate units beyond the 15 units required for the MSc may be transferred to the PhD, subject to the approval of the graduate program committee. For example, a student who has completed 18 graduate units during the MSc program at SFU will typically be required to complete 6 units in the PhD program.

For a student entering the PhD program directly from another institution, the graduate program committee will award credit for equivalent coursework upon admission. No equivalent credit will be given for the two core professional skills courses, and an award of equivalent credit for any of the three core physics content courses may require further approval after the student has begun the program. The minimum PhD course requirements will then be set as for a student entering with an MSc in Physics from SFU. For example, a student who has completed six one-semester graduate courses in physics would typically be awarded 18 units of equivalent graduate course credit, so that the minimum PhD requirement would be 6 additional graduate units, including any core courses that were not completed previously.

Research and Thesis Requirements

A major portion of this program is conducting original research. A thesis, embodying new and important results or original research, must be presented and defended at the conclusion of the degree program.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.