The department was established in 1965 under the name of the Department of Theoretical Physics and Geophysics by separating the theoretical physics section from the Nuclear Physics Department. The first head of the department became prof. RNDr. Tibor Kolbenheyer, DrSc., later an academician of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences and the Slovak Academy of Sciences, a distinguished representative of the Czechoslovak geophysics, who headed the department until 1982. In the years 1982-1985 the department was headed by prof. Ing. Slavko Chalupka, CSc., and in 1985-2002 by prof. RNDr. Andrej Bobák, DrSc., who at the beginning of his appointment was an associate professor and a candidate of science. As a result of the reorganization of the faculty structure in 2002 the department became a part of the Institute of Physics and its head became doc. RNDr. Michal Jaščur, CSc., who headed the department until 2009. At the same time in 2002, in line with the focus of the department’s activity, it changed its name to the Department of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics. During the years 2009-2011 it was headed by RNDr. Rudolf Gális, PhD. and since 2011 by prof. RNDr. Andrej Bobák, DrSc. After the foundation of the department four teachers were involved in its activities, one of whom was a professor and three assistant professors without scientific degrees. Currently, the department consists of one professor, four associate professors and two assistant professors with the PhD. degree.
Right after the department came into existence there were good conditions for scientific work in the field of geophysics, as the then head of the department prof. T. Kolbenheyer was renowned scientist and founder of the geophysical school in Slovakia. By methods of mathematical physics, which were developed largely by members of the department, were addressed problems associated with properties of anomalous gravitational and magnetic fields. By natural development in the department and in accordance with the needs of the faculty, besides the geophysical group also a group dedicated to theoretical physics, focusing on condensed matter, was formed. First steps in this line of research focused on the study of magnetization processes in ferromagnets. Later, this research changed to the theoretical study of the magnetic properties and phase transitions in magnetically ordered materials. In the past, part of the department’s research capacity was devoted to the scientific work in the field of high energy physics and elementary particle theory. Currently, the scientific research of the department is focused on the theoretical study of the magnetic properties of materials, application of methods of statistical physics to selected problems of economics, the study of turbulence by methods of quantum field theory and the study of selected astrophysical problems. The results of scientific work, obtained in the department over the past decade, have been published in more than 100 original scientific papers, 97 of which were published in reputable international scientific journals indexed in Current Contents.
In teaching area the department has provided teaching of core subjects of theoretical physics (theoretical mechanics, electromagnetic field theory, theory of relativity, quantum mechanics and statistical physics). Moreover, for different fields of study at the faculty, for a long time the department has been providing teaching of theoretical disciplines such as condensed matter theory, phase transitions and critical phenomena, quantum theory of magnetism, computational physics and mathematical physics. Starting in 1998, in collaboration with the Astronomical Institute in Tatranská Lomnica, the department has participated in teaching of various disciplines of astronomy and astrophysics, which has allowed master students of physics to specialize in this field.
Since its foundation, the department has paid particular attention to the education of gifted students who were involved in the scientific research within the student scientific professional activity (ŠVOČ). The result of this care were successful presentations on both faculty and national levels of the student scientific conferences (ŠVK) and publishing of some of the student works in recognized international scientific journals indexed in Current Contents. The department had a long-term involvement in the education of young physicists, high school students, also as a coordinator of Physics Olympiad in the East Slovakia region in 1978-2010.