Department of Theoretical and Nuclear Physics was founded in 2011 on the basis of the oldest departments of the Faculty of Physics.
The department of theoretical physics one of the oldest and the leading departments at al-Farabi Kazakh National University, was founded in 1938. Scientific research activity of the department has its background from the time when it was founded in 1938 by A.A. Gukhman a founder of scientific direction of thermodynamics in Kazakhstan. The further establishment and development of scientific life of the department is closely connected with the scientific and pedagogical activity of associate professor N.M. Petrova follower of the outstanding soviet physicist – theoretician V.A. Fock. She came from Leningrad in 1939 and super-vised the department from 1945 to 1970. Her scientific activity is closely connected with one of the main scientific directions of the departmen - bodies motion problem in the general theory of relativity.
In 1955 G.Zh. Murzagaliyev began his teaching activity at the department, in 1959 Т. М. Kuchina going the departament, in 1962 the teaching staff was enlarged by Z.A. Goldberg, who developed a new scientific direction - nonlinear acoustics. The other scientific direction connected to nuclear theme began to develop from 1969 with M.A. Zhusupov and T.A. Kozhamkulov. In 1970 the chief of the department became a follower of academician V.A. Fock- M.M. Abdil’din, who successfully developed the scientific direction on the theory of relativity and gravitation.
In December, 1982 by the decision of the USSR Higher Education ministry S.M. Kirov Kazakh State University is established as the leading institute of higher education on bodies motion problem in the general theory of relativity. From 1971 a teaching activity was being led by specialist of elementary particles and field theory– Yu.V. Liventsov. During 1981-1986 years the department was supervised by T.A. Kozhamkulov – who developed on the department a new scientific direction of Quantum Chromo Dynamics.
In the 80th of the 20th century the scientific potential of the department was more enlarged. The doctoral dissertations on theoretical physics were defended by M.M. Abdil’din (1985), T.A.Kozhamkulov (1986), young candidates of sciences – graduates of the department - M.S.Omarov, N.A.Burkova, O.I.Imambekov, T.D.Kaipov, K.A. Zhaksybekova- began to teach, in 1985 specialists of field quantum theory –M.S. Imashev and A.M.Kusainov - began to work at the department. From 2002 to 2006 specialist on field quantum theory - professor V.I.Ruskin taught at the department.
In 2003 М.М.Abdil'din was elected as an academician of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
During 1988 - 1991 years he was a rector of the university. In 1994 Professor T.A. Kozhamkulov was selected as an academician of the International Academy of Higher School Science, in 2008 was selected as academician of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan, during 2001 - 2008 years was a rector of al-Farabi Kazakh National Universuty. In 2007 N.А. Burkova and К.А.Zhaksybekova defended doctoral dissertations.
Department of nuclear physics is one of the oldest and biggest departments of physics faculty. It was formed on the basis experimental physics department, established in 1938, which was headed by L.N. Dobre’tsov an advisor of scientific research on “Electrical phenomena on the metal surface”(1938-1946).
From 1946 to 1961 experimental physics department was managed by Professor V.V. Cherdyncev, who was a great expert in isotope physics, radiochemistry and nuclear physics. V.V. Cherdyncev together with department's graduate P.K. Chalov who later became a member of correspondence of Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyz Republic made a discovery in isotope physics. In 1958 cosmic rays and nuclear processes in earth's crust laboratory was organized at the department.
After V.V.Cherdyntsev was transferred to Geological Institute of Academy of Science of USSR department was headed by associate
professors L.I. Shmonin (1961- 1961), U.H. Asylbayev (1969- 1972) and by member of correspondence of Academy of Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, professor D.K. Kaipov (1973-1975). In 1959 department was divided into two departments: department of radioactive radiation (manager V. V. Cherdyncev, 1959 - 1961) and nuclear physics department (manager academician Zh.S. Takibayev). Works done in those years by collaborators of the department of radioactive radiation (associate professors L.I.Shmonin, N.S.Strannikov, Ye.I.Isabayev, L.V.Kozak, U.H. Asylbayev, N.B. Kadyrov) had basic significance for the radionuclide prospecting and refinery in vulcanology, geochemistry and set out the possibility of practical utilization methods based on the effects of interaction of radioactive radiation with matter for the development of the systems of control and automotization of different processes.
From 1981 with academician Zh.S.Takibaev's supervision researches on quark-gluon structure of nucleus are conducted, problems connected with strongly interacting particles' collision mechanisms, with their structure, composition of atomic nucleus by the method of nuclear photo emulsion are studied. Experimental data collected from accelerators of charged particles of different countries and from cosmos are used in our researches. Besides that researches on renewable energy sources and untraditional methods of obtaining energy are conducted. Fundamental researches of the effects of radiation's interaction with matter are held in science laboratory of the department.
In 2008 the candidate of physics and mathematics М.Ye.Abishev was elected as a chief of the department. In 2009 М.Ye. Abishev defended the doctoral dissertation on specialty "Theoretical physics".
As a result of unification of departments, the Dr. Phys .- Math. , associate professor Abishev. M.Ye. was elected as a head of the department.