Physics with Astronomy BSc (Hons) or MPhys – 2018 entry
Why choose this course
A physics degree for star-gazers, our Physics with Astronomy programme gives you access to our own telescopes, and teaching from world leaders in exciting fields of research such as the nature of black holes and dark matter. You will carry out your final year research project in our superb £3.5m research labs.
In the National Student Survey (NSS) 2018 our physics courses were ranked top 10 in the UK for overall satisfaction.
What you will study
On our Physics with Astronomy programmes you will gain a thorough understanding of all the core elements of traditional physics – such as particle physics, atoms and molecules, quantum mechanics and astrophysics – and tailor your programme by choosing from a range of optional modules. You can also switch between any of our specialist Physics degrees during your first year.
You will benefit from extensive facilities within the Department of Physics including refurbished undergraduate teaching laboratories and our new student observatory for astronomy. Students on our MPhys programme can also choose to conduct a research placement at a major international astronomy laboratory.
|Qualification||Course length||Professional Training||UCAS||KIS code|
|BSc (Hons)||36 months||F3FN||View KIS data set|
|BSc (Hons)||48 months||F3FL||View KIS data set|
|MPhys||48 months||FHF5||View KIS data set|
Professional Training placements
As part of this course you have the option to complete a Professional Training placement. These will give you the opportunity to develop your professional, academic and personal potential, equipping you to be adaptable, resilient, globally minded, confident, entrepreneurial and digitally savvy in the workplace. These qualities are widely recognised by employers and a significant proportion of placement students at Surrey are offered graduate-level jobs or go onto postgraduate study.
Find out more about Professional Training placements and discover how these have transformed our students’ lives and career choices.
Physics with Astronomy placements
We are very proud of our track record for graduate employability. One of the main reasons for our graduate employability success is our Professional Training placement programme which is one of the largest in the World, with over 2,300 partner organisations in the UK and overseas. To find out more visit our Careers and Professional Training pages.
Undertaking a Professional Training placement 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, including:
- BAE Systems
- HMS Sultan
- INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma
- Instituto de Carboquímica
- Jaguar Cars
- National Physical Laboratory
- National Radiological Protection Board
- Royal Surrey County Hospital
- Science Museum
- National Oceanography Centre
We offer a Professional Training placement 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.
The optional Professional Training placement 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.
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 will look closely at your CV and help 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.
Applying for placements
Professional Training placements are usually applied for and secured via an open and free-to-all process, within which students can select and apply for numerous opportunities. Placement providers use their own recruitment and selection procedures and the majority of students will secure their placement in this way. However, support is also provided to students wishing to source their own placement, subject to university requirements being met.
Students are generally not placed by the University, however they are given thorough support and guidance alongside access to a vacancy portal representing thousands of placement opportunities each year. Please be aware there may be travel costs incurred when attending interviews and assessment centres at the placement provider’s premises.
Careers and graduate prospects
We offer careers information, advice and guidance to all students whilst studying with us, which is extended to our alumni for three years after leaving the University.
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.
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.
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 organisations such as:
- Shell International Petroleum
- GEC Marconi Research
- National Physical Laboratory
- Defence Research Agency
- Surrey Medical Imaging Systems
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.
Study and work abroad
We give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities or by completing a Professional Training placement abroad. In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV. Visit our global exchanges pages to check where you can go.
You have the option of spending one or two semesters abroad in your second year at one of our partner universities, including:
- Aachen Technical University
- University of Ulm
- Claustahl Technical University
- University of Halle
- University of Tessaloniki
- University of Drebchen
- Nanyang Technological University
- Seoul National University
- University of Cincinnati
- North Carolina State University
- University of Central Florida
- University of North Texas
- Swinburne University of Technology
- University of Sydney
- La Trobe University
- Victoria University, Wellington
- Brock University
International experiences can 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 to 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 and CERN in Switzerland.
If you choose to do your research placement in another part of Europe, you will be eligible for an Erasmus+ grant.
We can boast extensive facilities within the Department of Physics, including our undergraduate teaching laboratories which recently underwent a thorough refurbishment.
The Department has recently installed a new student observatory for astronomy, which can be used both by students for assessed laboratory experiments and by enthusiasts for informal use.
The Department has also recently benefitted 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 Department’s new Astrophysics Research Group supports computational and observational projects in astronomy and astrophysics.
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.
"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."
"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)."