Physics BSc (Hons) or MPhys (Hons) – 2016 entry

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.

What you'll study

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 specialist physics modules. All MPhys students also take our unique MPhys Research Year placement – this is 12 month research placement that provides an outstanding research experience. Research Year placements can be at top research institutes or Universities, either in the UK or overseas, or will be based in our research groups at Surrey. And MPhys students only pay the reduced Professional Training fee for Year 4 of their studies.

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. The BSc Professional Training placement gives students excellent paid experience of the world of work, considerably boosting their employment prospects upon graduation.

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.

Programme overview

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.

Programme structure

Year 1 (FHEQ Level 4)

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.

Modules include:

Semester 1

  • Fundamentals of Physics
  • Essential Mathematics
  • Scientific Investigation Skills
  • Oscillations and Waves

Semester 2

  • The Universe
  • Mathematical and Computational Physics
  • Properties of Matter
  • Atoms and Quanta

Year 2 (FHEQ Level 5)

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.

Modules include:

Semester 1

  • Electromagnetism
  • Energy and Entropy
  • Quantum Physics
  • Solid State Physics

Semester 2

  • Electromagnetic Waves
  • From Atoms to Lasers
  • Nuclear and Particle Physics
  • Introduction to Astronomy
  • Light Lab

Professional Training placement (optional)

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 (FHEQ Level 6)

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.

Modules include:

  • Final Year Project
  • Special Relativity
  • Modern Analytical Techniques
  • Soft Matter and Biological Physics
  • Nuclear Astrophysics
  • Light and Matter
  • Advanced Quantum Physics
  • Research Techniques in Astronomy
  • Cosmology and Galaxy Formation
  • Semiconductor Physics and Technology
  • Financial Derivatives
  • Medical Imaging
  • Physics in Education
  • Nanophotonics and its applications
  • Applied magnetism and Superconductivity


  • Modern Computational Techniques (DL)
  • Research Skills (DL)
  • Literature Review and Interim Report

Year 4 (MPhys only, FHEQ Level 7)

Our MPhys programmes are four-year courses with an integrated MPhys Research Year that is unique in the UK. MPhys students start their research year half-way through Year 3, after completing the Year 3 taught modules. In Year 4 you complete your Research Year and then take a final semester of taught specialist modules, including a problem-solving module and up to five optional modules covering advanced topics in Physics.

Modules include:

  • Research Year Dissertation
  • Nonlinear Physics
  • Topics in theoretical physics
  • General Relativity
  • Explosive Stellar Phenomena
  • Astrophysical Dynamics
  • Quantum Magnetism and Superconductivity
  • Advances in Photonics

Professional recognition

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.

Career opportunities

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).

Graduate prospects

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.

Global opportunities

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.

Professional Training and placements

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.


2016 Entry requirements

What qualifications do you need?


For BSc programmes: Grades required - AAB

For MPhys programmes: Grades required - AAA

We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking in our offers.

BTEC (QCF Level 3) Extended Diploma

For BSc programmes: DDD (in an appropriate subject, with a supporting A-level in Mathematics at Grade A)

For MPhys programmes: D*DD

European Baccalaureate

For BSc programmes: 75% 

For MPhys programmes: 76% 

International Baccalaureate

For BSc programmes: 35 points

For MPhys programmes: 36 points 

Other international qualifications

If you are an international student and you don’t meet the entry requirements to this degree, we offer the International Foundation Year.

Select your country:

Required subjects

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).

Selection process

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.

English language requirements

6.5 IELTS minimum overall

6.0 IELTS minimum in each sub-skill

If you are an international student and you are concerned that your English is not to the required standard, you may benefit from our International Foundation Year.

Please note that the University of Surrey offers English language programmes and is also an IELTS Test Centre.

See 2015 entry information

Course Options

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

Tuition fees, bursaries & scholarships

Bursaries & Scholarships

We're committed to making sure that we offer support for students who might need it.

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Fees for UK/EU students

Tuition fees are currently set at £9,000 per year for UK/EU undergraduates starting in 2015. Fees for 2016 entry will be available in the autumn.

Fees for overseas students

Fees for students classed as overseas for fees purposes are as follows: £16,000 for 2015 entry. Fees for 2016 entry will be available in the autumn.

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.

Professional Training placement fees

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.

View a complete list of all fees for our undergraduate programmes.

International students

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.

How to apply

Find out how and when to apply to study at Surrey.

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Professional Training Placement

Professional Training placement at BAE Systems

Returning from his Professional Training placement at BAE Systems, BSc Physics student Gareth talks about his experience…

Why Surrey?

  • Surrey is a strategic partner with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
  • Surrey’s Physics and Astronomy programmes are ranked eleventh for the subject in The Complete University Guide 2015
  • Our graduate employability record is very high
  • The Department of Physics’ new Astrophysics Research Group investigates fundamental questions within our universe
  • Surrey is home to the Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Physics (CNRP)
  • The unique MPhys research year allows you to work with the world’s top scientists
  • Our new Student Observatory opened in 2015 to support our Astronomy and Nuclear Astrophysics programmes
  • Flexible and varied degree programmes, with specialisms covering astronomy, nuclear astrophysics, satellite technology, quantum technologies and mathematical physics

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