Department of Physics

MSc in Physics

Due to the student-centered approach for an optimal learning experience, classes are kept small so that students can benefit from the positive academic relationship with their professors and receive tutoring personalized to their academic needs. Professors are also actively involved in the coursework of students both in the laboratory and their individual research projects.

A career in physics is exciting because physicists are trained to be natural problem solvers and creative thinkers. Economy is undergoing a transformation that reflects worldwide trends – the know-hows and technical innovations become the most important asset. In order to develop the necessary underlying technologies to support this transformation, highly skilled physicists and engineers are required.

The students will gain profound systematic knowledge in physics and develop the ability to identify and use theoretical knowledge in the context of real-life phenomena and engineering applications in technology innovation and entrepreneurship. The graduates are expected to acquire advanced analytical, mathematical, computational and experimental skills corresponding to the subjects of their Master projects.

Students are expected to become exposed to the international research environment. Besides pursuing doctoral degrees, graduates with an M.Sc. in physics from Nazarbayev University are individuals with honed research skills able to continuously make worthwhile contributions both at home and abroad in technology.

In this course, students will learn to apply the laws of classical mechanics to the situations requiring an advanced level of mathematical treatment. In fact, classical mechanics can be seen as a first course in mathematical physics. Such methods and concepts are of direct relevance to advanced studies and research in many areas of modern Physics such as Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics, Continuum Solid and Fluid Dynamics, Solid State Physics, etc. The relevant mathematical background is to be introduced in the course when required. The course covers Newton’s Laws, Oscillations, Central Motion, Calculus of Variations, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Dynamics.

In this course, students learn advanced techniques for computational modeling and simulations. The course encompasses general methods for performing scientific computer simulations as well as in-depth analysis and validation of the simulation data. In addition, students will learn to write reports in a scientific style. Throughout the semester, students will be asked to perform several assignments and projects, in which they are required to conduct detailed analysis of numerical methods for solving common mathematical problems that appear in many areas of science and engineering.

The course systematically covers electromagnetic fields in vacuum and matter in non-relativistic and relativistic limits.

Statistical mechanics studies classical and quantum microscopic description of macroscopic thermodynamics phenomena using probability theory and statistical methods. This course covers advanced statistical foundations of thermodynamics, including micro-canonical, canonical, and grand canonical ensembles, classical and quantum statistics, phase transitions, transport phenomena, noise and fluctuations, probability and stochastic processes, Brownian motion & fluctuation-dissipation, critical phenomena and order parameters, molecular dynamics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics. Learning fundamental theoretical concepts, problem solving and research project report writing will be involved to master the subject. Critical applications of statistical mechanics to a broad range of disciplines spanning from thermal physics and engineering, condensed matter physics and spectroscopy, molecular hydrodynamics, chemistry and biophysics to astrophysics will also be addressed. A grasp of fundamental and advanced principles and techniques in statistical mechanics is very important in much of modern applied physical sciences, high-technology as well as cutting-edge fundamental research.

This course covers the fundamentals of solid-state physics spanning structural, binding, mechanical, vibrational, thermal, electrical, magnetic and optical properties of crystalline, defected and non-crystalline solids (metals, semiconductors and insulators). The properties and phenomena in solids are explored as a result of their interrogation by external radiation, fields and particles. Take all the fundamentals of physics, including classical and quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics and statistical physics, and put them all together to study a piece of matter. Learning fundamental theoretical concepts, problem solving, laboratory practicum and research project report writing will be involved to master the subject. Critical applications in material science, nanotechnology, solid-state energy transport & conversion, and innovative materials characterization techniques will also be addressed. A grasp of fundamental and advanced principles and techniques in solid-state physics is very important in much of modern applied physical sciences, high-technology as well as cutting-edge fundamental research.

Mathematical Methods of Physics is a one-semester-long course at NU. This course will treat the mathematical methods in physics, providing a comprehensive survey of analytic techniques, including series, complex numbers, linear algebra, partial differentiation, integration, vector analysis, Fourier transforms, ordinary differential equations, variation calculus, special functions, and others. We will use the text by Mary Boas, Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, 3rd Edition, John-Wiley & Sons, 2006.

This course deals with the foundations of Einstein’s theory of gravity. Part of the course will be devoted to learning the basics of differential geometry and how the limits of Newtonian theory and special relativity lead naturally to the formulation of General Relativity. This will be followed by the study of the structure and meaning of Einstein’s field equations, their symmetries and physical properties. Another part of the course will focus on the properties and interpretation of some of the most important solutions of Einstein's equations, such as black holes, compact objects and cosmological models.

This is an advanced laboratory course in the real research laboratory setting. Students will gain experience in setting up and conducting experiments and analyzing acquired data in various areas of physics including but not limited to condensed matter physics, nanotechnology, thermodynamics, laser optics, accelerator physics, semiconductor devices, photovoltaics.

This course elaborates with advanced multidisciplinary fundamental and research topics in optoelectronics including the physics of semiconductors, devices physics and engineering, in particular, band structures of semiconductor materials; statistics of electrons and holes in intrinsic and doped semiconductors; galvanomagnetic and thermoelectric processes, charge photo-generation and recombination processes, charge transport; optical properties of semiconductors; photoresistive sensors, p-n junctions; metal-semiconductor junctions, photodiodes, phototransistors, photovoltaic devices (solar cells) and light emitting devices (LEDs).

This course deals with the methodology in research. Masters students will learn how a research problem may be set and modeled and use the appropriate tools for solution. There will be search for relevant literature and a final oral and written presentation of results.

This course is designed to monitor progress and develop understandings, skills, and outlooks to conduct original, independent research at the MS level. The student will develop (with the advisor’s guidance) a research plan at the beginning of the semester that will state a research problem/question/hypothesis, its background, outline a research strategy and experimental approach, method of data collection, interpretation and validation, and method of communication of the project results to others. The research plan is used as the basis for assessment of the student’s research progress.

Students will conduct research work under the direction of a supervisor on a novel research problem in a designated area of research. At the end of the semester, the student will prepare and defend the thesis.

PhD in Physics

The Ph.D. program in Physics especially focuses on priority areas for Kazakhstan, serving as a foundation for future high-tech industries and a knowledge-based economy. By the completion of the PhD program, students will be capable of designing and conducting independent, innovative, original and high quality research on a variety of topics in Physics as well as interdisciplinary topics.

In addition, program graduates will be prepared for working in industrial and academic environments including positions of university faculty members, senior researchers, high-tech entrepreneurs, engineers, product developers and science & technology policy makers.

This course is designed to monitor progress and develop understandings, skills, and outlooks to conduct original, independent research at the PhD level. The student will develop (with the advisor’s guidance) a research plan at the beginning of the semester that will state a research problem/question/hypothesis, its background, outline a research strategy and experimental approach, method of data collection, interpretation and validation, and method of communication of the project results to others. The research plan is used as the basis for assessment of the student’s research progress.

Classical mechanics can be seen as a fundamental course in mathematical physics. In this course, students will learn to apply the laws of classical mechanics to the situations requiring an advanced level of mathematical treatment developing the theoretical foundations for ideas such as symmetries and conservation laws. The methods and concepts developed are of direct relevance to advanced studies and research in many areas of modern Physics such as Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics, Continuum Solid and Fluid Dynamics, Solid State Physics, General Relativity, etc. The relevant mathematical background is to be introduced in the course when required. The course covers Newton’s Laws, Oscillations, Central Motion, Calculus of Variations, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Dynamics, Canonical transformations, Poisson brackets, Symplectic structure.

In this course, students learn advanced techniques for computational modeling and simulations. The course encompasses general methods for performing scientific computer simulations as well as in-depth analysis and validation of the simulation data. In addition, students will learn to write reports in a scientific style. Throughout the semester, students will be asked to perform several assignments and projects, in which they are required to conduct detailed analysis of numerical methods for solving common mathematical problems that appear in many areas of science and engineering.

Statistical mechanics studies classical and quantum microscopic description of macroscopic thermodynamics phenomena using probability theory and statistical methods. This course covers advanced statistical foundations of thermodynamics, including micro-canonical, canonical, and grand canonical ensembles, classical and quantum statistics, phase transitions, transport phenomena, noise and fluctuations, probability and stochastic processes, Brownian motion & fluctuation-dissipation, critical phenomena and order parameters, molecular dynamics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics. Learning fundamental theoretical concepts, problem solving, research project report writing and presentation will be involved to master the subject. Critical applications of statistical mechanics to a broad range of disciplines spanning from thermal physics and engineering, condensed matter physics and spectroscopy, molecular hydrodynamics, chemistry and biophysics to astrophysics will also be addressed. A grasp of fundamental and advanced principles and techniques in statistical mechanics is very important in much of modern applied physical sciences, high-technology as well as cutting-edge fundamental research.

This course covers the fundamentals of solid-state physics spanning structural, binding, mechanical, vibrational, thermal, electrical, magnetic and optical properties of crystalline, defected and non-crystalline solids (metals, semiconductors and insulators). The properties and phenomena in solids are explored as a result of their interrogation by external radiation, fields and particles. Take all the fundamentals of physics, including classical and quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics and statistical physics, and put them all together to study a piece of matter. Learning fundamental theoretical concepts, problem solving, laboratory practicum, research project report writing and presentation will be involved to master the subject. Critical applications in material science, nanotechnology, solid-state energy transport & conversion, and innovative materials characterization techniques will also be addressed. A grasp of fundamental and advanced principles and techniques in solid-state physics is very important in much of modern applied physical sciences, high-technology as well as cutting-edge fundamental research.

Mathematical Methods of Physics is a one-semester long course at NU. This course will be a treatment of the mathematical methods in physics providing a comprehensive survey of analytic techniques, including series, complex numbers, linear algebra, partial differentiation, integration, vector analysis, Fourier transforms, ordinary differential equations, variation calculus, special functions, and others. We will use the text by Mary Boas, Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, 3rd Edition, John-Wiley & Sons, 2006.

Pre-requisites: BS level standing

Co-requisites:none

This course deals with the foundations of Einstein’s theory of gravity. Part of the course will be devoted to learning advanced differential geometry and how the theory of General Relativity is built from it. This will be followed by the study of the structure and meaning of Einstein’s field equations, their symmetries and physical properties. Another part of the course will focus on the derivation, properties and interpretation of some of the most important solutions of Einstein's equations, such as static and rotating black holes, gravitational collapse, compact objects and cosmological models. Finally part of the course will be devoted to the connection between General Relativity and Quantum mechanics through the study of black hole thermodynamics and Hawking radiation.

This course elaborates with advanced multidisciplinary fundamental and research topics in optoelectronics including the physics of semiconductors, devices physics and engineering, in particular, band structures of semiconductor materials; statistics of electrons and holes in intrinsic and doped semiconductors; galvanomagnetic and thermoelectric processes, charge photo-generation and recombination processes, charge transport; optical properties of semiconductors; photoresistive sensors, p-n junctions; metal-semiconductor junctions, photodiodes, phototransistors, photovoltaic devices (solar cells) and light emitting devices (LEDs).

This course is designed to facilitate before the end of the prescribed program period or approved degree deferral period the writing and submission of the doctoral thesis for review by the thesis examiners. The thesis must be completed according to the Format and Style Guidelines of the Physics Department.

In addition, program graduates will be prepared for working in industrial and academic environments including positions of university faculty members, senior researchers, high-tech entrepreneurs, engineers, product developers and science & technology policy makers.