What Are Physical Sciences Subjects

Last Updated on July 28, 2023

Physical sciences is the study of matter(s) and energy. It includes subcategories such as life science and physical science.  Physical sciences also include branches like physical chemistry, geology, and astronomy. There are 7 branches of physical sciences. They are applied physics, astronomy, biomedical physics or physiology, geographical physics, geophysics, meteorology and space sciences and Solid State Physics

As a subject area, physical sciences refers to the various branches of science involved with studying and learning about natural phenomena and practical applications. Usually, these are collectively referred to as the ‘hard sciences’ which include astronomy (the study of celestial bodies), chemistry (the relationship between elements and how things interact with them), geology (the study of Earth’s surface features), many others. The branches of physical science have their own specialties that are sometimes inter-related. Overall, the physical sciences encompass a wide range of areas that all touch on the study and understanding of natural phenomena.

what is physical science?

physical science, the systematic study of the inorganic world, as distinct from the study of the organic world, which is the province of biological science. Physical science is ordinarily thought of as consisting of four broad areas: astronomyphysicschemistry, and the Earth sciences. Each of these is in turn divided into fields and subfields. This article discusses the historical development—with due attention to the scope, principal concerns, and methods—of the first three of these areas. The Earth sciences are discussed in a separate article.

Physics, in its modern sense, was founded in the mid-19th century as a synthesis of several older sciences—namely, those of mechanicsopticsacousticselectricitymagnetismheat, and the physical properties of matter. The synthesis was based in large part on the recognition that the different forces of nature are related and are, in fact, interconvertible because they are forms of energy.

The boundary between physics and chemistry is somewhat arbitrary. As it developed in the 20th century, physics is concerned with the structure and behaviour of individual atoms and their components, while chemistry deals with the properties and reactions of molecules. These latter depend on energy, especially heat, as well as on atoms; hence, there is a strong link between physics and chemistry. Chemists tend to be more interested in the specific properties of different elements and compounds, whereas physicists are concerned with general properties shared by all matter. (See chemistry: The history of chemistry.)

Astronomy is the science of the entire universe beyond Earth; it includes Earth’s gross physical properties, such as its mass and rotation, insofar as they interact with other bodies in the solar system. Until the 18th century, astronomers were concerned primarily with the SunMoonplanets, and comets. During the following centuries, however, the study of starsgalaxiesnebulas, and the interstellar medium became increasingly important. Celestial mechanics, the science of the motion of planets and other solid objects within the solar system, was the first testing ground for Newton’s laws of motion and thereby helped to establish the fundamental principles of classical (that is, pre-20th-century) physics. Astrophysics, the study of the physical properties of celestial bodies, arose during the 19th century and is closely connected with the determination of the chemical composition of those bodies. In the 20th century physics and astronomy became more intimately linked through cosmological theories, especially those based on the theory of relativity.

What Are Physical Sciences Subjects?

The interdisciplinary field of physical science combines studies in math, medicine, environmental science, chemistry and geology. Through these courses, students explore the world around them to understand non-living systems. Below are the list of courses.

Physical science, the systematic study of the inorganic world, as distinct from the study of the organic world, which is the province of biological science. Physical science is ordinarily thought of as consisting of four broad areas: astronomy, physics, chemistry, and the Earth sciences. Each of these is in turn divided into fields and subfields. This article discusses the historical development—with due attention to the scope, principal concerns, and methods—of the first three of these areas.

List of Courses

Contemporary Topics in the Physical Sciences

Students with a limited background in the sciences may consider courses that address a physical science from a conceptual and modern perspective. Students in these courses learn the basics of many areas of physical science, including astronomy, physics, geology and chemistry. These very basic courses are designed to prepare students for the successful completion of beginner-level courses in the physical sciences.

General Chemistry

A core physical science course, general chemistry includes an introduction to the Earth’s elements. The lecture part of the course explains fundamental chemistry concepts; in the lab portion of the course, students run experiments to illustrate basic chemistry concepts. Students learn to use lab equipment, along with honing their chemistry lab skills.


The fantastic thing about chemistry is its diversity, and the broad skill set developed through studying chemistry makes it a highly prized degree in fields beyond science.

Introduction to Physical Science

Introductory courses in physical science are designed for non-science majors as well as those pursuing a career in a scientific capacity. Students in these courses study the theoretical and empirical evidence in physical science that give researchers an understanding of how the universe works. Labs are performed to give students a hands-on demonstration of the laws of physics, chemistry and more.

Engineering Science

It isn’t so clear at school, but there is really a lot of overlap between different science subjects. I chose Physics because I found it the most interesting at school, but then moved over to Engineering to become more applied.

Physics for Teachers

Teachers of physics at a middle or high school level must be able to demonstrate complex laws using materials that teenagers understand. A teacher-focused physics course is typically part of a graduate curriculum or continuing education seminar for education majors. Students learn to explain laws of physics, such as gravity, optics, magnetism and energy, using simple tools. Future teachers also gain practice using technology like computers that will further students’ understanding of physics.


A knowledge of physics lets you do things that could only otherwise be considered magic. Levitating frogs, making objects appear and disappear, even looking back at the beginning of the universe!
Physics student

General Astronomy

In an intermediate course in astronomy, students build on the principles acquired in introductory physical science courses. The course includes applied trigonometry so students can determine mathematical equations relating to the expanding universe, star sizes and the speeds of sound and light. In addition, professors provide information about the evolution and formation of planets, stars and the solar system. Physical science classes in astronomy put the size of the world and knowledge of it into perspective, and students discuss how the Earth is affected by outside influences.


Geography is really a study of how the world works. Its breadth is its greatest strength. Students can learn about all aspects of the physical and human world, and have an enormous amount of freedom to pursue their own interests.

Earth Sciences (Geology)

I always collected rocks and fossils as a hobby; and became fascinated by volcanoes at a young age. For me, Earth Sciences offered the right blend – using basic sciences combined with fieldwork to help study the workings of the planet – and I have never looked back.

Materials Science

Materials scientists apply their fundamental understanding of physics and chemistry to engineer new materials, which drive technologies as diverse as quantum computing, nanotechnology, biomaterials, nuclear fusion and jet aviation.

what are the 7 branches of physical science?

Physics is constituted of many interdisciplinary subjects and branches for those interested in making a career in this field. Here are all branches of Physics:

Classical Physics

Among the popular branches of physics is classical physics. It primarily deals with different laws of motion and gravitation. These theories are conceptualized by Sir Isaac Newton and James Clark. They are Maxwell’s kinetic theory and theory of thermodynamics. This branch of physics is concerned with matter and energy. Classical Physics can simply be termed as Physics which dates back to 1900 and before. Everything that comes under the discipline of physics after that era, that is after 1900, is considered to be modern physics. In classical physics, energy and matter are dealt with separately. As a general belief, the theories which are termed invalid in modern physics is immediately considered to be a part of classical physics.

Modern Physics

Modern Physics is primarily centred around the two theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. Albert Einstein and Max Plank are the pioneers of this branch of physics. They were the first to propound the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. Unlike the classical branch of Physics, the branch of modern physics doesn’t consider energy and matter as different entities. Here they are only called the two different forms of each other.

Nuclear Physics

This is a branch of physics that is concerned with the constituents, structure, behaviour and interactions of atomic nuclei. This branch of physics is different from that of atomic physics. Latter studies the atom, including its electrons. In contemporary times, nuclear physics has become a very broad area of study and extended its scope manifolds. Methodologies and principles of this subject are applied to other academic and research areas. It is used in power generation, nuclear weapons, magnetic resonance, imaging, medicines, industrial and agricultural isotopes.Basic Physics Formulas

Atomic Physics

Another in the list of branches of physics is Atomic physics. It is concerned with the composition of the atom apart from the nucleus. It is primarily concerned with studying and understanding the behaviour of electrons in the shells around the nucleus. This branch of physics deals with electrons, ions, and neutral atoms. Among the first and foremost forays into atomic physics was a recognition that all matter is comprised of atoms. The beginning of atomic physics is associated with the discovery of spectral lines. This discovery gave way for an entirely new understanding of the structure of atoms and their arrangement.

Mechanical Physics

This is one of the branches of physics that is concerned with understanding the motion of material objects and how they are influenced by forces. It is also simply called mechanics. It has two main branches are Classical Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics. Classical mechanics studies the laws of motion of physical objects. It also deals with the forces that cause the motion. On the other hand, quantum mechanics is the branch of physics that is primarily concerned with the behaviour of the smallest particles, like electrons.


Mechanics is a branch of physics that focuses on the movement and motion of physical objects under a force and when at rest. It studies the relationship between different concepts like force, matter and motion. Forces applied to objects result in displacements or changes of an object’s position relative to its environment. It studies the law of motion, gravitation, friction, displacement and concerts like force, energy and power. 


Acoustics is a branch of physics that studies sound. It studies the mechanical waves passing through different forms like gases, liquids and solids. It studies vibrations and focuses on the production, control, transmission, reception, and effects of sound. It studies concepts like vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. 


Optics is a significant Science branch of physics that studies light and its properties. Optics focuses on studying behaviour, properties of light, its interactions with matter and the changes in these behaviours and interactions. The branch studies the behaviour of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. There are two branches within the field, Physical and Geometrical Optics. Physical is concerned with the nature of light and other attributes while geometrical focuses on light interactions with lenses, mirrors and other devices. 


Thermodynamics is a branch of physics concerned with heat and other forms of energy. It focuses on the transfer of energy from one form to another. It was introduced in the 19th century while scientists worked on steam engines. There are three laws of thermodynamics that are the foundation of the branch.  


Astrophysics is an important branch of physics. Space science is a subset of astronomy that primarily studies celestial objects and their composition by applying the laws and principles of physics to explain the phenomenon. The study of astronomy and its branches can be dated back to Greek philosophers like Aristotle who sought to study space and its components but it was Galileo and Newton that transformed the tradition of astronomy and its study. The study of cosmology and planetary science is closely associated with astrophysics and often referred to as sister sciences.

physical science jobs

Having thorough information on all of your options can help you decide on a career faster. Here is salary information, job descriptions and more for 15 physical science jobs in a variety of disciplines:

1. Zookeeper

Average national salary: $34,420 per year

Primary duties: Zookeepers manage animal care and facility maintenance in zoos and other animal enclosures. The zookeeper cleans, sanitizes and organizes enclosures, feeds and grooms animals and provides education on animal behavior and zoo events for guests.

2. Research technician

Average national salary: $40,092 per year

Primary duties: Research technicians set up, operate and maintain lab equipment and maintain a safe laboratory environment. Technicians assist with research projects, record results, deliver lab test results and fill out reports.

3. Water resources engineer

Average national salary: $50,598 per year

Primary duties: Water resource engineers design and develop water management and treatment equipment and processes. Engineers also oversee the maintenance of existing water management and treatment systems, testing systems for vulnerabilities and resolving any issues.

4. Forensic science technician

Average national salary: $51,941 per year

Primary duties: Forensic science technicians help investigators collect evidence from crime scenes for analysis. They also work in a laboratory setting to assist with analyzing samples and delivering results. Forensic science technicians usually major in laboratory science or forensic science during undergraduate studies.

5. Surveyor

Average national salary: $63,026 per year

Primary duties: Surveyors study physical boundaries to determine property lines, airspace, water space boundaries and more. Surveyors also help cartographers determine boundaries for maps and measure the distance between specific reference points.

6. Urban planner

Average national salary: $70,139 per year

Primary duties: Urban planners help decide how neighborhoods and districts develop. They study the surrounding area to determine the logistics of development and the impact on the natural environment, then create proposals that abide by local regulations. They collaborate with other community groups to win support for their proposals and put them into action.

7. Field geologist

Average national salary: $71,020 per year

Primary duties: Field geologists analyze the effects of Earth’s tectonic plate movement and other physical factors such as volcanic activity. Geologists work to better understand these processes and the effects they have on humans, urban environments and the Earth as a whole.

8. Environmental scientist

Average national salary: $71,974 per year

Primary duties: Environmental scientists analyze samples from the environment to determine the impact of human activity on the Earth. They also perform research on how to minimize damage to the environment for new developments and industrial activity and create models of potential outcomes to suggested action or inaction.

9. Ecologist

Average national salary: $78,343 per year

Primary duties: Ecologists study the relationship between natural forces, geographic environments, plants and animals. Ecologists also study the impact of human activity on these environments and creatures and create plans to minimize damage and protect wildlife.

10. Biologist

Average national salary: $80,750 per year

Primary duties: Biologists study behavior, evolution, genetics and environmental concerns in living plants, animals and other organisms. Biologists can also become teachers or college-level educators and participate in research programs on specific topics within the discipline of biology.

11. Civil engineer

Average national salary: $87,124 per year

Primary duties: Civil engineers design and supervise civil construction projects and draw up blueprints. They usually manage public infrastructure projects like building and maintaining bridges, road ways and buildings. Civil engineers can also act as the supervisor for a given project, responsible for managing labor, obtaining materials and overseeing the construction process.

12. Structural engineer

Average national salary: $88,223 per year

Primary duties: Structural engineers design physical structures that have adequate strength, functionality and efficiency for their environment. The engineer oversees the design phases, draws blueprints and determines which materials to use. Structural engineers work in both the private and public sector to design structurally sound buildings, bridges and more.

13. Mechanical engineer

Average national salary: $93,255 per year

Primary duties: Mechanical engineers design, build and test mechanical devices. Mechanical engineers also help maintain complex mechanical devices and determine how to improve their overall function. This can include things like engines, turbines, appliances and more.

14. Nuclear engineer

Average national salary: $93,259 per year

Primary duties: Nuclear engineers develop systems for nuclear devices and energy creation. The nuclear engineer draws up blueprints and designs for containment systems, power production facilities and weapons development. They also help maintain nuclear energy systems and ensure the safety of each system.

15. Software engineer

Average national salary: $109,927 per year

Primary duties: Software engineers design, develop and update software and applications. Software engineers work closely with clients to determine their software needs and work with a development team to develop high-quality software and test for errors. A software engineer with a physical science background might develop programs to interpret data for a corporation or research institution.

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