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Physics with Professional Placement (BSc)

Entry year

This four year course is for people who take a real interest in the world around them and who have enquiring minds, but who also want to acquire the core skills most valued by employers.

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An IQE employee working on compound semiconductors

Course overview

The BSc Physics degree is designed to give you a broad physics education and, in addition, supply you with a wide range of mathematical and computational skills.

Accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP), this four-year course offers a professional placement year in industry, commerce, government or another appropriate provider, giving you the opportunity to gain relevant work experience in the field.

Designed for those with an enquiring mind, this degree provides a wide-ranging education in how theoretical and experimental physics can be used to describe the universe. It also provides an insight into the impact of physics on modern technologies.

This course aims to prepare you for a career in industrial or academic research and development, education or other areas needing a practical, numerate and analytical approach to problem solving, such as business and finance.

You will be part of a friendly and welcoming department currently housed in the Queen’s Building complex, which contains a wide variety of purpose-built laboratories, lecture theatres and computing facilities.

Distinctive features

The distinctive features of the course include:

  • You will study in a supportive and friendly environment where student feedback is valued.
  • Research-active staff are involved in course design and delivery.
  • There are frequent opportunities to conduct practical work in the School’s laboratory facilities.
  • There is an emphasis on independent learning.
  • You will gain a solid grounding in physics, mathematics and computing, all of which are highly valued by employers.
  • You will have the opportunity to follow a professional placement year in industry.

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


UCAS codeF302
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration4 years
ModeFull time with sandwich year
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 105 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 570 applications.

Pursue your interest in understanding the physics behind the Universe while gaining the skills and knowledge you need to obtain your chosen career.

Entry requirements

AAB-ABB to include B in Mathematics and Physics with (where applicable) a pass in the practical element of the science A level. For applicants taking A Level Maths only (NO PHYSICS), you will require A*BB with A* in A Level Maths. Please note that General Studies are not accepted for entry.    

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.

34-32 points or 665 in 3 Higher Level subjects, to include 6 in 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.


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 Language Grade C/4. 

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.

Costs for sandwich years

During a sandwich year (e.g. year in industry, placement year or year abroad) a lower fee will apply. Full details can be found on our fees pages.

Additional costs

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

Course specific equipment

The University will provide all essential equipment. It currently also provides the core first-year physics and maths textbooks. You may choose to buy additional textbooks following advice from staff.


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 third year of which is spent on a professional placement. 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 earn 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 110 credits and an optional 10-credit module.

In the Spring Semester you can choose between optional modules such as Introduction to Astrophysics, How the Human Body Works or Communicating Science.

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.

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
Pathways to Success in the Physics WorkplacePX214110 credits

Year three: Sandwich year

Year three is spent on a professional placement in industry, commerce, government or another relevant placement provider approved by the University. It is designed to help you further develop your problem-solving skills and encourage the use of initiative, to gain a professional work methodology and practical experience.

As well as enhancing your transferable skills such as report writing and oral presentations, you may experience team working, increase your self-confidence and better understand the importance of Health and Safety.

The placement (usually nine months in length) also allows you to appreciate the structure of the workplace environment and reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses.

Module titleModule codeCredits
PlacementPX9001120 credits

Year four

The final year of our degree allows you to specialise and study selected topics in depth. A 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
CosmologyPX314610 credits
Digital Medical ImagingPX314710 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
Commercialising InnovationPX325310 credits
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.
Physics students in a lab

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 a major experimental study as part of your 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.

Key IT skills are taught throughout the course as well as elementary programming using Python. You may also have the opportunity to take further computing and numerical-methods modules as the course develops.

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 usually 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.

Your professional placement provider is expected to provide you with experience of a working environment, where some academic skills can be utilised and developed and which you can describe in a technical report.

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




Year 4

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




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.

Your professional placement will be supervised by a placement mentor and overseen by a specially appointed academic staff member.

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 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.

Continuous assessment (exercises and laboratory work) typically makes up 40% of your marks in year one.

At first the nature and methods of experiments are clearly defined for you, but by your final year you will be capable of tackling more open-ended investigations.

In year three you will undertake a placement (minimum nine months) in an industrial, commercial or other working environment, normally within the UK, that you have selected but which has been approved by the University. You will complete a reflective assessment of your placement, initial and final reports and give an oral presentation of the technical outcomes of your placement year.

Assessment methods (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Written exams


Practical exams




Year 2

Written exams


Practical exams




Year 3

Written exams


Practical exams




Year 4

Written exams


Practical exams




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:

  • Use laboratory classes to develop your experimental, analytical and investigative skills
  • 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 include UK and international universities plus a range of organisations such as Rolls Royce, European Space Agency, Lockheed Martin, Tata Steel, National Instruments and Barclays.

The contacts you make and the work experience you gain during your placement year will enhance your CV and might even lead directly to employment or provide enhanced references for other job applications.


  • Research scientist
  • Statistician
  • Data Analyst
  • Science Communicator
  • Finance and Banking
  • Airline Pilot
  • Software Engineer
  • Teacher


Year three is spent on a professional placement in industry, commerce, government or other institution approved by the University.


Next Undergraduate Open Day

Saturday 26 October




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