Faculty of Physics and AstronomyPhysics

Students in the Physics academic programme focus on natural processes that are accessible to experimental exploration, measurement, and mathematical representation, and which are subject to universal laws.

Physics is a branch of the Natural Sciences, which are concerned with all of the observable phenomena described above. Students have a wide variety of options when choosing a particular field within physics. The spectrum ranges from work with distances between 100000000000000000000000000 m (the diameter of the universe) all the way down to 0,000000000000000001 m (the smallest distance accessible to high energy accelerators). Students also have the option of choosing to focus on a comprehensive theory of elementary particles and their interactions or electing to learn about topics such as the development of radiation therapy methods for treating cancer or the observation of neuronal processes in the human brain. In addition, the study of Physics offers an opportunity for studying tools, methods, and concepts that can be used to discover and eliminate environmental problems on both a local and global level. It was physics experts, too, who invented the World Wide Web, originally intended as a means of exchanging information about their experiments. 

Special Features and Characteristics

The faculty comprises 2,000 students, making it one of the largest in Germany. Approximately 300 Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and 100 doctoral degrees are conferred annually. At the beginning of the academic programme, students may participate in an orientation unit to test their previously-acquired knowledge, particularly in mathematics. During the first semester, students participate in a tutoring group that is led by an experienced faculty instructor. This group of ten to twenty students may also more closely examine topics and problems of particular interest to the group. 

During the course of a project internship, students have the opportunity, even during their studies, to become involved in research. The advanced internship even involves working in part with experiments being conducted by research groups. For the final thesis, students may choose a topic from within the entire diverse range of physics research.  

Study-abroad cooperations exist between ERASMUS-PROGRAMME partner universities in Barcelona, Bergen, Birmingham, Bordeaux, Durham, Grenoble, Helsinki, Krakau, Leiden, Madrid, Manchester, Padua, Paris Sud Xi, Pisa, Santiago de Compostela, Southern Denmark,Uetracht, and York as well as the Royal University of Technology in Stockholm, the University of Rom Tor Vergata, the Imperial College of London and University College London. 

Research

The faculty has four research institutes.  

  • The Kirchhoff Institute for Physics (KIP) and the Physikalische Institut (PI) are dedicated to experimental physics. Work at the KIP currently centres on classical complex systems and quantum systems, along with fundamental particles and interactions.  
  • The PI focuses on elementary particle and heavy-ion physics, the physics of interactions, and symmetries between low energies and the underlying quantum physics.  
  • The Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP) has a special focus in the area of experimental physics of environmental physics and with climate research.  
  • The Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP) is dedicated to the broad spectrum of modern physics, from elementary particles and cosmology to complex many-particle systems. The development of new, sophisticated theoretical methods is therefore the unifying element of the ITP working group.  

  The integration of two former state-run astronomical institutes - the Institute for Astronomical Computing (ARI) and the Königsstuhl Observatory (LSW) - into the university, combined with the existing Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics (ITA) and the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University resulted in the emergence of the largest university astronomy centre in Germany. 

Occupational Areas

Approximately 75% of graduates find work in the service sector, in particular, in science-intensive services, such as technical, physical and chemical investigation or in research and development positions in the natural sciences, engineering, the agricultural sciences, and medicine. In addition, approximately 20% of graduates work in schools and at universities. 

Insights

I simply enjoy understanding how things work, which is why I chose physics. Aside from being able to explain everyday phenomena, I am fascinated by learning about the non-evident and the level of elementary particles.

Ben Höber, 19, Physics, 3rd semester Bachelor