Physics BSc (Hons) or MPhys – 2020 entry
Why choose this course
Home to superb research facilities and partnered with the National Physical Laboratory, Surrey offers distinctive physics courses that are among the very best in the UK and reflect the diversity and exciting nature of the subject.
Our BSc and MPhys Physics courses offer you a flexible choice of modules across many different topics, covering both theoretical and applied areas of physics. Our teaching builds on the vast range of expertise among the academics in Surrey’s Department of Physics.
In the National Student Survey 2018 our physics courses were ranked top 10 in the UK for overall satisfaction.
What you will study
On our BSc and MPhys Physics courses, you’ll study both core topics (for example, particle, nuclear and atomic physics) and optional modules. During your first year, you can switch between any of our specialist physics courses.
The option to take an integrated research year or Professional Training placement will also give you invaluable hands-on experience to enhance your employability.
You can apply to study for either a BSc or an MPhys (Master of Physics), a direct route to a masters qualification. Studying for an MPhys, you’ll spend a year doing research before returning for a final year of masters-level modules. Depending on your progress, you may have the option to switch to a BSc or MPhys during your studies.
|Qualification||Course length||Foundation year||Professional Training||Start date||UCAS||KIS code|
|BSc (Hons)||36 months||Oct 2020||F300||View KIS data set|
|BSc (Hons)||48 months||Oct 2020||F301||View KIS data set|
|MPhys||48 months||Oct 2020||F303||View KIS data set|
|BSc (Hons)||60 months||Oct 2020||F305||View KIS data set|
|BSc (Hons)||48 months||Oct 2020||F304||View KIS data set|
Professional Training placements
A Professional Training placement provides you with 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 many of our students are offered employment on graduation by their placement provider.
The Professional Training placement year gives our students an insight into their subject and career potential, and early access to professional experience. It can be invaluable in developing work-based skills and helping them secure a graduate career.
Find out more about Professional Training placements and discover how these have transformed our students’ lives and career choices.
BSc Physics students can choose to take a Professional Training placement which can add real value to your learning experience. It will give you the opportunity to apply your theoretical understanding in the world outside university.
Our Professional Training placement programme has been running successfully for over 40 years and enables students to gain relevant work experience in the UK or abroad.
Over the years, we’ve placed our students with many companies and laboratories, including:
- Toptica Photonics
- Airbus Defence and Space
- IBM UK Ltd
- Tesla Engineering Ltd
- National Physical Laboratory
- BAE Systems.
The optional Professional Training placement starts at the end of the second academic year, with preparation for the placement beginning during Year 2. If you’re on a BSc course, you’ll discuss your particular interests and abilities with your personal tutor and the Professional Training tutor during your second year.
The Department will look closely at your CV and help you with all aspects of applying to our extensive database of potential employers. Every October, a Professional Training conference allows the previous year’s students to tell you about their experiences first-hand.
If you decide not to do the Professional Training year, you proceed directly to your third year to complete your taught modules and graduate.
Our students gain a wide range of employable skills during their placement year, giving them an enhanced skill set when applying for jobs after graduation.
Applying for placements
Professional Training placements are usually applied for and secured via our online placement opportunities platform called Surrey Pathfinder, within which students can select and apply for placement vacancies. 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 the 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.
BSc (Hons) - Institute of Physics (IOP)
Accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP) for the purpose of partially meeting the educational requirement for Chartered Physicist.
MPhys - Institute of Physics (IOP)
Accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP) for the purpose of fully meeting the educational requirement for Chartered Physicist.
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 and numeracy skills, coupled with advanced scientific knowledge.
With optional modules such as Nuclear Astrophysics, Soft Matter and Biological Physics and Cosmology and Galaxy Formation, our courses will provide you with the analytical, experimental and computational skills valued in a wide variety of careers.
All our 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 and problem-solving in the laboratory. We also provide support to students in CV building and applying to placements.
In addition, students who take either the BSc Professional Training or the MPhys integrated Research Year gain invaluable employment and hands-on experience at their host institution.
Surrey physics graduates have taken up roles such as research physicists, consultants, engineers, teachers and bankers in companies including the BBC, BAE Systems and Airbus.
After graduating, 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 entered employment in roles such as:
- Senior Development Engineer, Fourth State Medicine Ltd
- Research Scientist RF and Microwave Metrologist, National Physical Laboratory
- System Analyst, Raytheon Systems Ltd
- Automation Tester, CGI
- Graduate Physicist, DSTL
- Graduate Engineer, Aktins
- Trainee Clinical Scientist, NHS.
Many have gone on to take masters courses in a range of subjects such as geophysics, nanotechnology, meteorology, quantum field theory, education management and science communication, while others have chosen to pursue PhDs in astrophysics, materials science, nuclear physics, semiconductors and 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. View our study and work abroad exchange information to find out more and see where you can go.
Please note: the status of the Erasmus+ scheme is dependent on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
After completing your second year, you have the option of taking a year placement abroad at one of our partner universities, including:
- La Trobe University
- Swinburne University of Technology
- University of Sydney
- University of Wollongong
- Brock University
- Rheinisch Westfalische Technische Aachen
- Technische Universitat Clausthal
- Republic of-Seoul National University
- Universiti Malaya (UM)
- Victoria University of Wellington
- Nanyang Technological University
- California State University
- North Carolina State University
- Texas Tech University
- University of Central Florida
- University of Cincinnati
- University of Maryland
- University of North Texas.
International experiences can expose you to a new cultural environment that develops your adaptation and communication skills, as well as your ability to deal with unfamiliar situations. This helps you strengthen your academic and professional profile.
Alternatively, you may wish to spend your Professional Training year working in another country in your third year. This is an excellent opportunity not only to gain valuable work experience but also to improve in, or learn, another language.
MPhys students have spent their research year placements at:
- University of Notre Dame, Indiana
- WNSL, Yale University
- ORNL in Tennessee, US
- TRIUMF in Vancouver, Canada
- University of Marburg, Germany
- CERN, Switzerland.
If you choose to do your research placement in another part of Europe you may also be eligible for an Erasmus+ grant.
We boast extensive facilities within the Department of Physics, including our undergraduate teaching laboratories which have recently undergone a thorough refurbishment.
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 University of Surrey is currently leading a £6 million research project to develop quantum computers using atomic-scale devices.
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.
Academic year structure
The academic year is divided into two semesters of 15 weeks each. Each semester consists of a period of teaching, revision/directed learning and assessment.
The University operates a credit framework for all taught programmes based on a 15-credit tariff. Modules can be either 15, 30, 45 or 60 credits.
The structure of our programmes follows clear educational aims that are tailored to each programme. These are all outlined in the programme specifications which include further details such as the learning outcomes.
Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that modules may be subject to teaching availability, student demand and/or class size caps.
Please note: If there is an optional Professional Training placement as part of your course, you can view the full module listing for this on the relevant programme specification.
Optional modules for Foundation - FHEQ Level 3
For further information on FHEQ levels 4, 5 and 6 please view the programme specification for the full-time BSc (Hons) Physics programme.
Foundation (with PTY)
Optional modules for Foundation (with PTY) - FHEQ Level 3
For further information on FHEQ levels 4, 5 and 6 and professional training year please view the programme specification for the full-time with PTY BSc (Hons) Physics programme.
Optional modules for Year 2 - FHEQ Level 5
Choose 1 of the 4 optional modules in Semester 2
Optional modules for Year 3 - FHEQ Level 6
Choose 4 in Semester 1, choose 2 in Semester 2
Optional modules for Year 2 - FHEQ Level 5
Choose 1 of the 4 optional modules in Semester 2
Year 3 (Semester 1)
Year 3 (Semester 2)
Year 4 (Semester 2)
Optional modules for Year 4 (Semester 2) - FHEQ Level 7
Students choose four of the Semester 2 options
Timetables are normally available one month before the start of the semester. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week (Monday–Friday). Wednesday afternoons are normally reserved for sports and cultural activities. Part-time classes are normally scheduled on one or two days per week, details of which can be obtained from the course administrators. View our Timetabling Policy (PDF).
Teaching will be made up of a stimulating mixture of lectures, with supporting laboratory work, practical exercises and computational classes. There will be assigned coursework, problem solving and projects aligned with the course material.
The core physics curriculum is covered in the first two years. In Year 1 your practical skills are developed through laboratory-based teaching sessions designed to introduce experimental design, data analysis, and preparatory research and risk assessment. Your communication skills are developed through technical report writing and oral presentations.
You will then start to shape your course by selecting from a group of optional modules, taken at the end of the second year and throughout the third year. Our specialist modules reflect the research interests of the Department - ranging from astronomy and nuclear astrophysics, to quantum light and matter. You can also select more practical modules with laboratory-focused teaching methods, or theoretical modules with mathematical and computational based assignments.
Research students will sometimes help to deliver your modules. These students will be researching in a similar subject to the module, and will have undertaken training prior to being invited to teach. The University has a set of procedures that govern the use of postgraduate research students in this way.
This course is taught by academic staff from the Department of Physics.
ADAMS JM Dr (Physics)
All taught students are assigned a personal tutor before beginning a programme of study. Personal tutors offer support and advice to students in the areas of:
- Academic progress
- Pastoral/welfare issues
- Personal/professional development and employability.
Modules are assessed individually and credits are awarded for the successful completion of each one. Assessment takes place through a combination of examination and/or coursework, practical examinations and reports. Check individual module information to see full details at a module level.
Contact hours can vary across our modules. Full details of the contact hours for each module are available from the University of Surrey's module catalogue. See the modules section for more information.
Learning and disability support
We have two services, the Academic Skills and Development and Additional Learning Support (ALS) which can help develop your learning.
Academic Skills and Development
Academic Skills and Development is a learning space in the Library where our learning development team is based. It comprises dedicated Student Learning Advisers and Information Skills Librarians who can help you develop your academic and research skills, including writing, presenting, revision and critical thinking.
Find out more about the study support available.
Additional Learning Support
Additional Learning Support (ALS) is the University of Surrey’s disability and neurodiversity service. The ALS team supports students with disabilities, long-term health conditions, specific learning differences (such as dyslexia and dyspraxia) and other neurodiverse conditions (including autism spectrum and attention deficit disorder).
If you tell us about any conditions and register with us, we can give you appropriate support during your studies.
We can arrange exam and learning support adjustments, give advice on applications for the Disabled Students' Allowance, and test you for dyslexia and dyspraxia. We can also offer regular study skills and mentoring support.
See the Additional Learning Support website for more information.
English language support
Our English Language Support Programme (ELSP) provides tailored English language support during your studies. It is particularly valuable to students who speak English as a second or additional language, but native speakers are also welcome.
What qualifications do you need?
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.0 overall with 5.5 in each element.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here. The University of Surrey is also an IELTS test centre.
We normally make offers in terms of grades.
If you are a suitable candidate you will be invited to an Applicant Day. During your visit to the University you can find out more about the course and meet staff and students.
If you don’t meet our entry requirements, you might still be able to apply for this course with a foundation year. A course with a foundation year includes an extra year of study to prepare you for a full degree course. Find out more about our degrees with foundation year.
Recognition of prior learning
The University of Surrey recognises that many students enter their higher education course with valuable knowledge and skills developed through a range of professional, vocational and community contexts. If this applies to you, a process called recognition of prior learning (RPL) may allow you to enter your course at a point appropriate to your previous learning and experience, or to join the start of a course without the formal entry requirements. This means that you may be exempt from certain elements of study in the course for which you have applied and be awarded credit based on your previous qualifications/experience. There are restrictions on RPL for some courses and fees may be payable for certain claims.
Please see the Code of practice for recognition of prior learning and prior credit: taught programmes (PDF) for further information. Please email Admissions with any queries.
|Qualification||Start date||Course length||Professional Training||UK/EU fees||Overseas fees||Professional Training fees|
|BSc (Hons)||Oct 2020||36 months||To be confirmed||To be confirmed||Not applicable|
|BSc (Hons)||Oct 2020||48 months||To be confirmed||To be confirmed||To be confirmed|
|MPhys||Oct 2020||48 months||To be confirmed||To be confirmed||To be confirmed|
|BSc (Hons)||Oct 2020||60 months||To be confirmed||To be confirmed||To be confirmed|
|BSc (Hons)||Oct 2020||48 months||To be confirmed||To be confirmed||Not applicable|
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.
There are associated costs with this BSc (Hons) course:
- Commuting (local travel expenses): unable to specify amount - some travel costs for commuting schools as part of Physics in Education module.
There are associated costs with this MPhys course:
- Commuting (local travel expenses): depending on placement students can incur travel, visa and accommodation costs.
These additional costs are accurate as of September 2018 and apply to the 2019 year of entry. Costs for 2020 entry will be published in September 2019.
How to apply
Learn how to apply for an undergraduate course, see details about the UCAS application process and determine the steps you need to take if you receive an offer to study.
Our undergraduate admissions policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.
Join a webinar and speak to our current students
"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)."
Campus locationStag Hill
Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught.
As part of this course you have the option to complete a Professional Training placement which would require attendance off campus, depending on where you secure your placement.