Chemical & Physical Sciences

Chemical & Physical Sciences OverviewWhy Chemical & Physical Sciences at McMasterChemical & Physical Sciences Admission DetailsChemical & Physical Sciences First Year CoursesChemical & Physical Sciences Options Beyond First YearChemical & Physical Sciences Typical TimetableChemical & Physical Sciences Internships and Co-OpsCareers Beyond the Chemical & Physical Sciences ProgramProfiles and Alumni of Chemical & Physical SciencesProgram Statistics for Chemical & Physical SciencesChemical & Physical Sciences FacilitiesChemical & Physical Sciences Web Links

  • Overview

    Everything we know is either matter or energy. Understanding the ways in which matter and energy behave and interact is critical to an understanding of the universe at every level, from the submicroscopic constituents of matter to the macroscopic behaviour of galaxies and star clusters. This understanding comes through a mix of mathematical description, computational modeling and experimental investigations. These techniques are covered in Chemical & Physical Sciences I, which is the appropriate preparation for Level II programs in which is the appropriate preparation for Level II programs in Astrophysics, Biophysics, Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Medical Physics, and Physics

    Why Chemical & Physical Sciences at McMaster?

    Students in Chemical & Physical Sciences I do not memorize facts or equations; they learn how to ask questions and answer these questions through problem solving. The Departments of Chemistry & Chemical Biology and Physics & Astronomy are research intensive with a strong commitment to excellence in teaching.

    On the teaching side, undergraduate students experience exciting and engaging lectures. Both Chemistry and Physics focus on providing hands-on lab experience, interactive classroom lectures as well as dynamic and exciting online content. The new PHYSICS 1C03 course is geared specifically to Chemical and Physical Science I students, which means small class size (~100 students) and lots of interaction with the professor. Additionally, the CHEM 1A03 and 1AA3 courses have been redesigned to provide the best possible instruction to students in the classroom, the lab, and online.

    On the research side, undergraduate students have been involved in a number of exciting projects in various research areas. The Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology offers undergraduate research opportunities in six major thrust areas: Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Inorganic Chemistry, Materials Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Physical and Theoretical Chemistry. Between 55 and 65 undergraduates are hired for summer research each year. The Department of Physics & Astronomy hires approximately 25 undergraduate students each summer in paid research positions. Each summer between 25 and 30 undergraduates participate in paid research positions within the Department of Physics & Astronomy. In addition, the Department fully funds the summer undergraduate students to present their research at the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference (CUPC), which is held at various locations across Canada each year. The Chemical & Physical Science community at McMaster is close-knit and is a great choice for undergraduate education!

  • Admission Details

    OUAC Application Code: MPS

    Annual Enrollment: 80 students

    Admission Average & Requirements


    Web Links

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  • First Year Courses

    Total: 30 Units

    Please refer to the Undergraduate Calendar for the most up-to-date information about recommended first year courses for Chemical & Physical Sciences I.

    Before selecting Level I courses, it is very important that students carefully review the admission requirements for each of the Level II programs they are considering. At the end of first year, students apply to a maximum of four Level II Honours programs, and are offered admission to the highest ranked program for which they qualify. 

  • Beyond First Year

    Students from any Level I Science program can, through careful Level I course selection, pursue any Level II program in:

    Students who complete Chemical & Physical Sciences I often pursue the following programs:

    Honours Bachelor of Science (Hons. B. Sc.) Programs

    • Honours Astrophysics
    • Honours Biophysics*
    • Honours Chemical Biology*
    • Honours Chemistry*
    • Honours Chemistry – Advanced Materials Specialization
    • Honours Chemistry – Molecular Science Specialization
    • Honours Medical and Biological Physics
    • Honours Physics*

     * Co-op programs are available, beginning in Level III

    Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) Programs

    • Chemical & Physical Sciences


    • Minor in Chemical Biology
    • Minor in Chemistry
    • Minor in Astronomy
    • Minor in Physics
  • Facilities

    Take a Virtual Tour of the facilities in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

  • Co-op / Internship

    Cooperative education extends the undergraduate program to five years, and is a great way to gain practical experience and develop a professional network. In addition, during the four, 4-month work terms, students will further enhance technical and non-technical workplace skills, such as teamwork, effective communication and time management. Students apply to co-op programs in Level II and, if admitted, enter the co-op program in Level III. Admission is based on academic achievement and an interview. Students in co-op programs typically work in government, academic, hospital and industry settings.

    For further information about Cooperative Education see HERE or visit by the Science Career and Cooperative Education (SCCE) office in BSB 127.

    Experiential Education (EE) provides opportunities for students to gain academically relevant experience in a community, research or professional setting. This combination of academic and real world learning helps students to further develop the necessary qualities and skills that will be transferrable to future career paths. EE courses could be either an Applied Placement Course (SCIENCE 3EP3) or a Research Practicum Course (SCIENCE 3RP3).

    For more information about Experiential Education – please visit the Science Career & Cooperative Education office FAQ page HERE.

  • Program Statistics

    Coming soon.

  • Typical Timetable

    Typical Timetable

Profiles & Alumni

Faculty Profiles

  • Dr. Laura Parker is an astrophysicists in the area of observational cosmology studying the process of galaxy and structure formation.
  • Dr. Maikel Rheinstadter is a biophysicist who studies the dynamics and function of membranes using x-ray and neutron scattering.
  • Dr. Itay Yavin is a particle physicists who is interested in the search for physics beyond the Standard Model.
  • Dr. Doug R. Boreham is a radiation biologist who is interested in low level radiation exposure.
  • Dr. David Chettle uses physics techniques to measure human body composition and trace metal exposure.
  • Dr. Michael Farquharson is interested in characterizing tumour tissue using x-ray interactions and x-ray fluorescence to look at the role of trace elements in cancer.
  • Dr. Fiona E. McNeill studies long-term exposure to metals, including lead, using the non-invasive technique of x-ray fluorescence.
  • Dr. Carmel Mothersill is interested in the mechanisms involved in radiation carcinogenesis and genomic instability and their relevance to repair of radiation damage and radiation carcinogenesis.
  • Dr. Mike S. Patterson is investigating optical techniques that can be used for diagnosis and treatment of disease.
  • Professor Emeritus Dr. W.V. (Bill) Prestwich supports research in radiation physics and dosimetry.
  • Dr. Colin Seymour is a radiation biologist and is interested in genomic instability and bystander effects.