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Physics (MPhys)

Entry year


This is an ideal course for those who have a passion for physics and wish to explore the subject in greater depth, while developing advanced mathematical, computing and problem solving skills.

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Two students working in the UG Physics lab.

Course overview

Physics is the most fundamental of all the sciences, concerned with unlocking the secrets of the Universe and understanding the world around us.

The MPhys Physics programme is designed to give you a broad understanding of both theoretical and experimental physics as well as gaining a wide range of mathematical and computational skills.

Accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP), this four-year programme goes into greater depth than the BSc course, allowing you to further develop your sophisticated knowledge of Physics.

Studying alongside internationally respected physicists whose work is providing the basis for revolutionary innovations, you will be part of an exciting and friendly environment and have access to state-of-the-art apparatus, including lasers, X-ray sources and electronics.

The course aims to prepare you for a career in industrial or academic research and development, education or other sectors which require a practical, numerate and analytical approach to problem solving.

Distinctive features

The distinctive features of the course include:

  • The opportunity to learn in a department which has a strong commitment to research
  • A solid scientific training based on our world leading research
  • Developing key transferable skills required by employers
  • The involvement of research-active staff in course design and delivery
  • A substantial research project in your final year
  • Frequent opportunities to conduct practical work in the School’s laboratory facilities
  • An emphasis on independent learning

The course contains all the core content required for the degree to be accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP).

Accreditations

UCAS codeF303
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration4 years
ModeFull time
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 105 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 570 applications.

You will explore the physics behind time, space and matter, and acquire advanced skills in the fundamental disciplines of mathematics, computing and experimentation, all of which are highly valued by employers.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements shown are for students starting in 2019. Entry requirements for 2020 will be available in August 2019.

AAA-AAB for applicants taking A Level Maths and Physics, B will be accepted in Maths. For applicants taking A Level Maths only (NO PHYSICS) A*BB with A* in A Level Maths.A pass in the practical element of the science A level. Please note, General Studies will not be accepted.

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

DD-DM in Science/Engineering related BTEC plus grade A in Maths A-Level (some BTEC subjects may also require Physics A-level). Alternatively, D in any BTEC plus grades BB in A-level Maths and Physics.

36-34 points including 6 in Higher Level Mathematics and Physics, or 665 in 3 HL subjects including 6 in HL Maths and  Physics. Applicants taking Higher Level Maths will be considered (without Higher Level Physics) with grade 7 in Higher Level  Maths.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Physics & Astronomy admissions criteria pages.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-score.

TOEFL iBT

At least 90 with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

62 with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

You will require GCSE English or Welsh Language at grade C or grade 4. Alternatively, IGCSE English First Language at grade C or English Second Language at grade B will be considered.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Additional costs

The School covers the cost of essential equipment, including core course textbooks in the first two years. All other suggested textbooks are available through the University libraries.

Course specific equipment

The University will provide all necessary equipment. It will also provide the core first-year physics and maths textbooks. You may choose to buy additional textbooks following advice from staff. You may also wish to consider purchasing a personal computer, laptop or tablet device, although specific computing facilities are available on site.

Accommodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This is a four-year full-time degree. The course includes a carefully chosen balance of core modules, along with some optional modules. Modules are typically worth 10 or 20 credits and you need to attain 120 credits a year.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Year one

The range of modules in year one is designed to stimulate your interest in physics while giving you a sound foundation upon which to build in later years. At the end of the first year, you may continue with your original degree programme of choice or choose another of our single honours physics and astronomy degrees.

You will study core modules worth 100 credits and two optional 10-credit modules.

In the Autumn Semester, you may take a module on mathematical practice for physical sciences or, if you have an A grade or higher in Mathematics A-level, an alternative 10-credit module.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Mathematical Methods for Physicists 1PX112020 credits
Mechanics and MatterPX112120 credits
Experimental Physics 1PX112310 credits
Planet EarthPX112710 credits
Electricity, Magnetism and WavesPX122120 credits
Experimental Physics 2PX122310 credits
Computational Skills for Problem SolvingPX122410 credits
Mathematical Methods for Physicists 2PX123010 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Module titleModule codeCredits
How the Human Body WorksPX122610 credits
Introduction to AstrophysicsPX122810 credits
Communicating SciencePX122910 credits

Year two

Year two of the course continues to build on the core physics material and offers a choice for your one optional module.

Students are required to maintain a minimum average of 55% in years one and two in order to continue their studies on the MPhys programme.

Module titleModule codeCredits
The Physics of Fields and FlowsPX213120 credits
Introductory Quantum MechanicsPX213210 credits
Intermediate Practical Physics 1PX213310 credits
Structured ProgrammingPX213410 credits
Thermal and Statistical PhysicsPX223120 credits
OpticsPX223210 credits
Intermediate Practical Physics 2PX223310 credits
Synoptic PhysicsPX223410 credits
Introduction to Condensed Matter PhysicsPX223610 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Electronic InstrumentationPX213510 credits
Electricity in the Human BodyPX213710 credits
The Stars and their PlanetsPX214010 credits

Year three

Year three of our degree allows you to specialise and study selected topics in depth. A 20-credit physics-related research project gives you the opportunity to apply your physics learning and to develop skills in independent research, making presentations, report writing and information management.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Atomic and Nuclear PhysicsPX314120 credits
Condensed Matter PhysicsPX314210 credits
Particle Physics and Special RelativityPX324120 credits
Physics ProjectPX331520 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Computational PhysicsPX314310 credits
Electromagnetic Radiation DetectionPX314410 credits
Digital Medical ImagingPX314710 credits
Acoustics and Studio SoundPX314810 credits
Environmental PhysicsPX315310 credits
Semiconductor Devices and ApplicationsPX324210 credits
Laser Physics and Non-Linear OpticsPX324310 credits
Medical UltrasoundPX324610 credits
Radiation for Medical TherapyPX324710 credits
Theoretical PhysicsPX324810 credits
Statistical MechanicsPX324910 credits
CosmologyPX325210 credits
Commercialising InnovationPX325310 credits

Year four

The final-year project is a significant assessed part of our MPhys courses and we attach particular importance to it. It currently accounts for half of the year four content (60 credits) and provides training in analysis, synthesis and problem solving – the key skills needed by a professional physicist. The project will be linked to the research work of the School and give you the opportunity to work alongside professional researchers and academic staff.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.
Condensed Matter and Photonics
An Optical Parametric Oscillator SHG crystal in APE OPO, running in ring-cavity and intracavity-doubling mode.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

Teaching is carried out using a range of techniques, such as traditional lectures, tutorials and laboratory work and computer-based, project-based and skills-based exercises. Physics is a hierarchical discipline so the structure of the course is systematic, building on fundamental understanding.

Exercises are an integral part of all lecture-based modules, and these give you the opportunity to apply your knowledge, increase your critical awareness and enhance your problem-solving skills.

You will undertake weekly laboratory classes in the first two years, to prepare you for an experimental study as part of your year-three project and for your major final-year project.

Mathematics is taught alongside the major Physics and Astrophysics concepts in all years, with specific modules in the first year. It is fundamental to understanding the subject and is incorporated into many physics modules.

IT skills are taught in the first year as well as elementary programming using Python. You may take further computing and numerical-methods modules in later years.

Regular small-group tutorials are held in years one and two. These meetings will allow you to meet with other students in small groups (typically four or five students to one tutor) and receive feedback on your continuous assessment. In the first year these sessions are given on a weekly basis, in year two they take place fortnightly.

Throughout the delivery of the programme, wherever possible, recent research results are used to illustrate and illuminate the subject.

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

33%

Guided independent study

67%

Placements

0%

Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

32%

Guided independent study

68%

Placements

0%

Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

30%

Guided independent study

70%

Placements

0%

Year 4

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

19%

Guided independent study

81%

Placements

0%

How will I be supported?

Your main interaction with academic staff will be through lectures, laboratory practical sessions, workshops or small-group teaching sessions (tutorials).

You will also be allocated a personal tutor, a member of academic staff who can provide pastoral support and academic advice during your course.

All lecturing staff can be contacted by email and have either an ‘open door’ policy for students with specific queries about course material, or a system to book meeting times. The School Office can answer most administrative queries immediately.

You will be given access to relevant multimedia material, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion circles through the University’s virtual learning environment, Learning Central. Opportunities for you to reflect on your abilities and performance are available through the Learning Central ‘Personal Development Planning’ module.

The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.

Feedback

Feedback on progress is typically provided through a combination of discussion in class, written comments on submitted work and review of outline solutions to problems. You are encouraged to discuss any queries related to specific modules with individual lecturers.

How will I be assessed?

There are a wide variety of assessment methods. Some modules combine continuous assessment and end-of-semester exam and others are solely based on continuous assessment.

At first the nature and methods of experiments are clearly defined for you, but by year three you are expected to tackle more open-ended investigations.

In your final-year project you will submit a fixed-format summary of your work plus a self-assessment at the end of the Autumn Semester. You will submit your final dissertation at the end of the Spring Semester. Part of your assessment will involve an interview with your supervisor and assessor (viva) and you will be asked to give a short research seminar about your project. All of these elements are assessed.

Assessment methods (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Written exams

49%

Practical exams

0%

Coursework

51%

Year 2

Written exams

53%

Practical exams

0%

Coursework

47%

Year 3

Written exams

58%

Practical exams

0%

Coursework

43%

Year 4

Written exams

33%

Practical exams

0%

Coursework

68%

What skills will I practise and develop?

Studying this course will enable you to acquire and develop a range of valuable skills, both discipline specific and based around general employability. You will:

  • Develop your experimental, analytical and investigative skills in laboratory classes
  • Learn how to design experimental equipment, electronic circuitry or computer data acquisition or data reduction algorithms
  • Use precise calculations or order-of-magnitude calculations in appropriate situations
  • Use computer packages and/or write software
  • Conduct independent research using source materials such as textbooks, scientific journals and electronic databases
  • Develop your communication skills, both orally and in writing
  • Enhance your team-working skills and ability to critically appraise your own work and the work of others
  • Develop your ability to undertake independent learning and effectively manage your time

Careers and placements

Career prospects

In the latest survey of graduate employment 92% of the School’s graduates reported that they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

We provide a range of support to help our students to find the career opportunities that suit them best, such as a Careers Adviser who is located part-time in the School, on-site careers fairs and employer visits. We also aim to prepare our students by providing them with the skills they need to succeed in obtaining jobs and feeling confident in their chosen workplace.

Employers included UK and international universities plus a range of organisations such as Rolls Royce, European Space Agency, Lockheed Martin, Tata Steel, National Instruments and Barclays.

Jobs

  • Research scientist
  • statistician
  • data analyst
  • science communicator
  • finance and banking
  • airline pilot
  • software engineer
  • teacher

Placements

There is the option of taking a Professional Placement Year between your second and third years, when you can work in industry, commerce, government or another relevant placement provider. This would extend the MPhys degree to five years.

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Friday 5 July

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