Physics at Surrey has helped me gain a greater understanding of the subject, and the Professional Training year has increased my employability and helped me test the waters so I know what career to pursue in the future. To anyone considering taking a Professional Training year, I’d definitely recommend it. Not only does the opportunity improve your employability, but it also helps you gain a greater understanding of your subject because you see real-world application of the things you’ve been learning about.
We’re partnered with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and are home to wonderful teaching and superb facilities at Surrey. If you join us, you’ll have chance to explore particle physics, quantum mechanics, relativity and astrophysics – and discover how physics shapes our understanding of the entire universe.
Physics underpins so many of today’s scientific advances. Everything from space exploration to fibre-optic communication, and even the Human Genome Project, could not have happened without physics. Its influence touches a surprising range of areas – for example, providing new ways to improve the environment, develop new technologies and treat cancer.
Studying on our general Physics programme will give you a thorough understanding of all the core elements of traditional physics, including key topics like particle physics, atoms and molecules, quantum mechanics and astrophysics. This programme will give you the greatest access to our full range of optional modules, allowing you to tailor your studies to fully match your interest in physics.
Our MPhys programme will interest you if you are considering a career in research. You will be able to explore the discipline in greater depth with additional core modules, including problem-solving and a research year. The BSc programme allows you to take a Professional Training placement year option after Year 2. Opportunities range from research to engineering or computing, with placements in small and large organisations, national laboratories, hospitals and government agencies.
After your degree, you may decide to become a professional scientist, but physics opens many other doors too. Your skills will be valued by a wide range of employers in areas such as journalism, law, IT, education and finance.
Our Physics degree programmes reflect the huge diversity of modern physics, with modules ranging from General Relativity to Nuclear Astrophysics to Medical Imaging. We prize our flexibility, which allows you to switch between any of the specialist Physics degrees during your first year, and even to change between some programmes as late as the second year. A particularly attractive aspect of these modular programmes at the University of Surrey is that you can select options in all years to complement the core subjects, tailoring your programme to your specific interests.
We offer a Professional Training placement year with international opportunities. We have been placing students with companies for more than 40 years. Placement employers are often so impressed with the student’s performance that they offer them a permanent job when the student graduates.
Read about the experience of Physics with Nuclear Astrophysics student Laurence Stant.
Year 1 gives you the core physics, mathematics knowledge, and professional research skills you need. You will get to grips with the fundamental principles of physics and be introduced to modern physics, from quantum mechanics to relativity. Building on these principles, you will explore the breadth of the world of physics, looking at atoms, star formation, cosmology, the Schrödinger equation, and even measure the speed of light. You will also be introduced to the theories developed to deal with physical processes beyond the normal speeds and sizes of everyday life. See our world through Schrödinger’s eyes.
In Year 2, you will continue to expand your understanding of and experience with both classical and modern physical theories and concepts. In addition, you will be able to choose the areas that you want to specialise in, and tailor your degree pathway to suit your interests by selecting from a choice of optional modules.
The optional Professional Training placement year starts at the end of the second academic year. Preparation for the Professional Training placement begins during Year 2. If you decide not to do the Professional Training year, you proceed directly to Year 3 to complete your taught modules and graduate in your third year.
Year 3 will see you specialise in your chosen field and deliver your final-year project. Through your work on this final-year project, you will develop your scientific writing skills, as well as your communication and presentation style. BSc students undertake an extended research project in their final semester and can currently choose up to six optional modules.
Our MPhys programmes are four-year courses with an integrated research year that is unique in the UK. In Year 4, MPhys students undertake a problem-solving module and choose up to five optional modules. The range of modules available may vary from year to year, but your freedom to choose which options to study remains our priority. The unique research year begins after you have completed half of your Year 3 taught modules, at the end of the Autumn semester.
Our Physics, Physics with Astronomy, Physics with Nuclear Astrophysics and Physics with Satellite Technology degrees are accredited by the UK’s Institute of Physics (IOP) and can lead to the award of Member of the Institute of Physics (MInstP) and Chartered Physicist (CPhys), after appropriate career experience. The Mathematics and Physics degree is recognised by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). Our newly launched Physics with Quantum Technologies degree is awaiting IOP accreditation.
You will have a stimulating mixture of lectures, laboratory work, tutorials, practical exercises and computational classes. There will be assigned coursework, problem solving and projects. Computers are used extensively, as teaching aids via self-learning packages, in the laboratory for experimental control and data analysis, in modelling of physical problems and for effective communication.
Eight practical laboratory half-modules are designed to introduce particular elements of physics, experimental design, data analysis, background research and technical writing. A ninth module introduces computational modelling, the topic of which can be based upon your personal interests. Experimental and computational exercises, undertaken in the teaching laboratory, are designed to complement and aid the learning of concepts taught in lectures.
All modules are assessed by written examination, coursework or, most commonly, a combination of the two.
For the MPhys degrees, 30 per cent of the degree is awarded for the Year 2 modules, 30 per cent for the research year and associated dissertation, and 40 per cent for the Year 3 modules.
For the BSc degrees, 35 per cent of the degree mark is awarded for the Year 2 modules with 65 per cent awarded in Year 3.
Coursework accounts for about 30 per cent of the overall degree mark.
We can boast extensive facilities within the Department of Physics, including our undergraduate teaching laboratories which recently underwent a thorough refurbishment.
The Department has also recently benefited from a £3.5 million refurbishment of its research laboratories, which our undergraduate students use as they carry out their final-year research projects.
The University of Surrey is currently leading a £6 million research project to develop quantum computers using atomic scale devices.
Physicists are highly sought after in industry, research, education, management, medicine, law and business, because of their broad practical skills and knowledge of fundamental theory. Our degrees will provide you with the analytical, experimental and computational skills valued in a wide range of career opportunities.
All Surrey Physics students learn a range of employability skills during their studies. These include a dedicated Year 1 module, Scientific Investigation Skills, which covers key communication skills, group work and presentations, problem solving in the laboratory environment, plus sessions on interview techniques, CV preparation and job applications. Students who take either the Professional Training or research year placements also get invaluable employment experience at their host institution.
Many of our graduates, particularly those with an MPhys degree, go on to postgraduate degrees in order to become researchers. Other graduates have launched careers with multinational companies (such as Shell International Petroleum, 3M, GEC Marconi Research, Nokia and BT), with public bodies (such as the National Physical Laboratory, the BBC, the NHS and the Defence Research Agency), and with small enterprises (such as Surrey Medical Imaging Systems and private consultancies).
Graduates have taken up roles such as research physicists, consultants, engineers, teachers and bankers in companies including the BBC, BAE Systems and Astrium. Many have gone on to take Masters degrees in a range of subjects, such as geophysics, nanotechnology, meteorology, quantum field theory, education management and science communication, while others have chosen to study for PhDs in astrophysics, semiconductors or photonics.
You have the option of spending one or two semesters abroad in your second year at one of our partner universities, including Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), Seoul National University (South Korea), University of Cincinnati (USA), North Carolina State University (USA), University of Central Florida (USA), University of North Texas (USA), Swinburne University of Technology (Australia), University of Sydney (Australia), La Trobe University (Australia), Victoria University Wellington in New Zealand and Brock University (Canada) among others.
International experiences expose you to a new cultural environment that develops your adaptation and communication skills and also your ability to deal with unfamiliar situations, thus strengthening your academic and professional profile.
In addition, or alternatively, you may wish to consider spending your Professional Training year working in another country. If you work in another part of Europe you will be eligible for an Erasmus+ grant. This is an excellent opportunity not only to acquire valuable work experience but also improve or learn another language.
MPhys students have spent their research placements at Notre Dame, Indiana; WNSL, Yale University; ORNL in Tennessee, USA and TRIUMF in Vancouver, Canada and the University of Marburg in Germany, as well as CERN in Switzerland. If you choose to do your placement in another part of Europe you will be eligible for an Erasmus+ grant.
Taking a Professional Training placement year can add real value to your experience and enable you to apply theoretical understanding, bringing it alive in the world outside university. Over the years, we have placed our students with many companies and laboratories. Here is just a small selection: BAE Systems, BT, HMS Sultan, INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, Instituto de Carboquímica (Spain), Jaguar Cars, the National Physical Laboratory, the National Radiological Protection Board, the Royal Surrey County Hospital, the Science Museum and the National Oceanography Centre.
We offer a Professional Training placement year with international opportunities and we have been placing students with companies for more than 40 years. Placement employers are often so impressed with the student’s performance that they offer them a permanent job when the student graduates. After your degree, you may decide to become a professional scientist, but physics opens many other doors too. Your skills will be valued by a wide range of employers in areas such as journalism, law, IT, education and finance.
If you are studying a BSc programme, you will discuss your particular interests and abilities with your personal tutor and the Professional Training tutor during Year 2. The Department looks closely at your CV and helps you with all aspects of applying to potential employers. Every October, a Professional Training conference allows the previous year’s students to tell you about their experience first-hand. The Department will help you to apply to companies in our extensive database.
Over the years, we have placed our students with many companies and laboratories. Here is just a small selection: BAE Systems, BT, HMS Sultan, INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, Instituto de Carboquimica (Spain), Jaguar Cars, the National Physical Laboratory, the National Radiological Protection Board, Royal Surrey County Hospital, the Science Museum and Southampton Oceanography Centre. Our students gain huge experience of a wide range of employment skills during their placement year, giving them a significant advantage when applying for jobs after graduation.
GCSE English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above (or international equivalent – see relevant country page).
Mathematics and Physics required to A-level (or equivalent).
Offers are normally made in terms of grades. Suitable candidates will be invited to an Applicant Day. During the visit to the University the candidate can find out more about the programme and meet staff and students.
6.5 IELTS minimum overall
6.0 IELTS minimum in each sub-skill
|Qualification||Course Length||Professional Training||UCAS code||KIS code|
|BSc (Hons)||3 years||F300||View KIS data set|
|BSc (Hons)||4 years||F301||View KIS data set|
|MPhys (Hons)||4 years||F303||View KIS data set|
We're committed to making sure that we offer support for students who might need it.
Tuition fees are currently set at £9,000 per year for UK/EU undergraduates starting in 2016.
Fees for students classed as overseas for fees purposes are as follows: £16,000
The University will assess your fee status. If you are unsure whether you are likely to be considered a home, EU or overseas student for fees purposes, the UKCISA website offers more information.
Programmes marked with a tick in the table above include a Professional Training placement.
A reduced fee is charged for Professional Training placements.
Fees will not have to be paid up front for those eligible students who decide to take up the Government's loan for higher education fees. The Professional Training placement is a key factor in the high employability rates achieved by students with Surrey degrees.
Experienced staff in our International Student Office are available to help from the moment you consider studying at the University. We offer professional advice on immigration, visa issues, entry qualifications, pre-departure information, employment regulations and international student welfare.
Find out how and when to apply to study at Surrey.
Returning from his Professional Training placement at BAE Systems, BSc Physics student Gareth talks about his experience…
I chose Physics because I wanted to gain a fundamental understanding of our world. Studying at Surrey also enabled me to take part in the Professional Training year, which I spent at Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS).
"As part of my degree I participated in a Professional Training year at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, as a PR and Events Assistant"
Abbie Stone, currently on her Professional Training year at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), recently attended a special House of Commons reception.
“The Professional Training year provided me with access to top companies”
Saturday 14 Mar. 2015
Wednesday 15 Apr. 2015