Why study this course
The MPhys Astrophysics degree covers core physical and mathematical concepts with a clear focus on our interpretation of the Universe. The course is designed to give a thorough education in theoretical aspects of physics and astrophysics and an understanding of observational astronomy.
Accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP), this four-year programme is designed for those wishing to study astrophysics in greater depth than the three year BSc allows.
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.
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.
The distinctive features of the course include:
- The opportunity to learn in a department which has a strong commitment to research and is home to one of the UK’s largest Astronomy research groups
- The involvement of research-active staff in course design and delivery
- A large 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).
We accept a combination of A-levels and other qualifications, as well as equivalent international qualifications subject to entry requirements. If you are applying to study this course via Clearing, entry grade requirements may be higher than those advertised. Typical offers are as follows:
AAA-AAB. Must include either Maths and Physics or A in Maths. You will need to pass the science practical element of the A-level if this is part of your programme of study.
Extended/International Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ/IPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.
Our grade range covers our standard offer and contextual offer. We carefully consider the circumstances in which you've been studying (your contextual data) upon application.
- Eligible students will be given an offer at the lower end of the advertised grade range.
- Where there is no grade range advertised and/or where there are selection processes in place (like an interview) you may receive additional points in the selection process or be guaranteed interview/consideration.
36-34 overall or 666 in 3 HL subjects. Must include grade 6 in HL Maths and Physics.
From September 2023, there will be a new qualification called the Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales (level 3). This qualification will replace the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (Welsh Baccalaureate). The qualification will continue to be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.
Other qualifications from inside the UK
DD in a BTEC Diploma in science and engineering subjects and grade A in Maths A-Level or D in any BTEC subject and grades AB in Maths and Physics A-Level.
Acceptance of T Levels for this programme will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Academic School. Consideration will be given to the T Level grade/subject and grades/subjects achieved at GCSE/Level 2.
Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.
Tuition fees for 2023 entry
Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.
Fees for home status
Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland
If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2023/24 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.
Fees for island status
Learn more about the undergraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Fees for overseas status
Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.
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 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. You may also wish to consider purchasing a personal computer, laptop or tablet device, although specific computing facilities are available on site.
We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.
We're based in one of the UK's most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.
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 earn 120 credits a year.
The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2023/2024 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2023.
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 degree programme of choice or choose another of our single honours physics and astronomy degrees.
You will study core modules worth 120 credits.
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Mathematical Methods for Physicists 1||PX1120||20 credits|
|Mechanics and Matter||PX1121||20 credits|
|Planet Earth||PX1127||10 credits|
|Experimental Physics||PX1150||20 credits|
|Electricity, Magnetism and Waves||PX1221||20 credits|
|Computational Skills for Problem Solving||PX1224||10 credits|
|Introduction to Astrophysics||PX1228||10 credits|
|Mathematical Methods for Physicists 2||PX1230||10 credits|
The second year of the course continues to build on the core physics and astrophysics material. You will also take a module on Observational Techniques in Astronomy. This introduces the theory and practice of making and interpreting astronomical observations and provides the necessary skills to undertake your astronomy or astrophysics research project in years three and four.
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 title||Module code||Credits|
|The Physics of Fields and Flows||PX2131||20 credits|
|Introductory Quantum Mechanics||PX2132||10 credits|
|Structured Programming||PX2134||10 credits|
|The Stars and their Planets||PX2140||10 credits|
|Observational Techniques in Astronomy||PX2155||20 credits|
|Thermal and Statistical Physics||PX2231||20 credits|
|Synoptic Astrophysics||PX2235||10 credits|
|Introduction to Condensed Matter Physics||PX2236||10 credits|
In your third year you will study 80 credits of core modules with a further 20 credits from a selection of optional modules. You will also undertake an independent 20-credit physics-related research project.
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Atomic and Nuclear Physics||PX3141||20 credits|
|Formation and Evolution of Stars||PX3145||10 credits|
|Particle Physics and Special Relativity||PX3241||20 credits|
|High-Energy Astrophysics||PX3245||10 credits|
|Galaxies and Galaxy Evolution||PX3251||10 credits|
|Physics Project||PX3350||30 credits|
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Condensed Matter Physics||PX3142||10 credits|
|Computational Physics||PX3143||10 credits|
|Electromagnetic Radiation Detection||PX3144||10 credits|
|Digital Medical Imaging||PX3147||10 credits|
|Environmental Physics||PX3153||10 credits|
|Science Communication||PX3160||10 credits|
|Semiconductor Devices and Applications||PX3242||10 credits|
|Laser Physics and Non-Linear Optics||PX3243||10 credits|
|Theoretical Physics||PX3248||10 credits|
|Statistical Mechanics||PX3249||10 credits|
|Commercialising Innovation||PX3253||10 credits|
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 astrophysicist. 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.
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Large Molecules and Life||PX4119||10 credits|
|Instrumentation for Astronomy||PX4125||10 credits|
|Data Analysis||PX4128||10 credits|
|Advanced Particle Physics||PX4140||10 credits|
|Experimental Gravitation I||PX4191||10 credits|
|Advanced General Relativity and Gravitational Waves||PX4224||10 credits|
|Physics and Reality||PX4230||10 credits|
|Gravitational Wave Astrophysics||PX4236||10 credits|
|Experimental Gravitation II||PX4292||10 credits|
|Numerical Relativity and Waveform Modelling||PX4294||10 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.
Learning and assessment
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 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.
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 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.
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
Physics and Astronomy graduates are highly valued by employers and our students go on to work in a wide range of different fields including research science, medical physics and technology, teaching and finance and banking.
Employers include UK and international universities plus organisations such as Rolls Royce, European Space Agency, Lockheed Martin, Tata Steel, National Instruments and Barclays.
- Research scientist
- Finance and banking
- Project manager
HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.