Physics with Astronomy BSc (Hons) or MPhys – 2021 entry
Start date: October 2021
MPhys UCAS: FHF5View KIS data set
BSc (Hons) UCAS: F3FN
3 yearsView KIS data set
BSc (Hons) UCAS: F306
4 years with foundation yearView KIS data set
BSc (Hons) UCAS: F3FL
4 years with professional trainingView KIS data set
BSc (Hons) UCAS: F307
5 years with foundation year and professional trainingView KIS data set
Why choose this course
Our BSc and MPhys Physics with Astronomy courses will teach you about our place in the cosmos. You’ll learn about cutting-edge theories of the origin of the Universe and life itself, and have the opportunity to carry out original research with leading scientists in the field.
We’re home to fantastic astronomy facilities, including our own teaching and outreach telescopes that you’ll use to get hands-on observation experience, as well as high-performance computing and GPU clusters.
A unique aspect of both courses is our placement programme:
- As part of our BSc course, you can take up a paid year-long placement in an industry research laboratory or company, gaining valuable industry-relevant experience as part of your degree
- On our MPhys course you will take up a year-long research placement that can be in one of our world-leading research groups, or at one of our partner institutions all over the world.
What you will study
Our Physics with Astronomy courses will teach you the core elements of traditional physics – from classical mechanics and electromagnetism to quantum mechanics.
You’ll then specialise in astrophysics, studying the formation and evolution of stars, planets, galaxies and the Universe as a whole. You will learn about the search for life beyond Earth, gravitational waves, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy.
You’ll also be able to carry out a research project within one of our world-leading research groups.
You can apply to study for either a BSc or an MPhys, a direct route to a masters qualification. If you study for an MPhys, you’ll spend a year doing research before returning for a final year of masters-level modules.
You may have the option to switch to a BSc or MPhys during your studies. Find out more about the benefits of an integrated masters degree.
Surrey’s Department of Physics boasts extensive facilities including our teaching and outreach telescope, recently-refurbished computer lab and undergraduate teaching laboratories. We’ve 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 University of Surrey is currently leading a £6 million research project to develop quantum computers using atomic-scale devices.
Our new Astrophysics Research Group provides both computational and observational undergraduate research projects in astronomy and astrophysics, from star and galaxy formation to gravitational waves and cosmology.
Research and innovation opportunities
As part of our physics degree programme, we provide students with a range of cutting-edge research and innovation opportunities.
All students have the chance to apply for an 8-10 week paid placement during the summer, typically at the end of their second year. Placements are available both within the University and via the South East Physics Network (SEPnet).
Students have spent placements at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire (the UK’s largest scientific facility), The Royal Marsden Hospital (one of the world’s leading cancer research hospitals), and at research-intensive companies such as BAE Systems.
Placements at Surrey are with an academic in the Department of Physics, and have ranged from nanotechnology experiments to theoretical quantum physics. Summer placements are paid and offer an invaluable taste of real research, as well as adding to your CV.
Unique to Surrey’s physics degree programme, all of our MPhys students spend one whole year doing real research. This year will take place either at Surrey, with an academic in the Department of Physics, or at one of our national or international partner organisations.
Past students have undertaken year-long research projects at TRIUMF (Canada’s centre for particle and nuclear physics research); leading European universities such as the University of Marburg in Germany; the IAC in Tenerife (Spain’s leading astronomical institute); and large UK research facilities such as the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.
All of these research projects involve real cutting-edge research with internationally respected scientists. Most off-campus placements come with a student stipend.
Whether you have a passion for physics research, or want to use your physics knowledge and skills to develop a new business or idea, there’s a range of funding support available.
For a summer research placement you can apply for funding from:
- The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – Vacation Internships
- The South East Physics Network – Summer Placement Scheme
- The Department of Physics undergraduate research and innovation grant.
For a business enterprise or innovation idea, to attend a research conference, or to apply for money to support a student competition or similar, you can apply for funding from:
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.
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.
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, coupled with advanced scientific knowledge.
Our courses will provide you with the analytical, experimental and computational skills valued in a wide variety of careers.
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.
As a Surrey physics student, you’ll learn a range of employability skills during your studies. You will take a dedicated Year 1 module – Scientific Investigation Skills – which covers essential communication skills, group work and presentations, and problem solving in the laboratory. We also support you with building your CV, interview preparation and job applications.
Students who take either the Professional Training Year or Research Year placements also get invaluable employment experience at their host institution.
After your course, 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. Recent graduates are now employed 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.
Equally, many of our graduates go on to take masters courses in a range of subjects, such as geophysics, nanotechnology, meteorology, quantum field theory, education management and science communication.
Others, particularly those with an MPhys degree, choose to pursue PhDs in astrophysics, semiconductors or photonics materials science, nuclear physics and semiconductors and photonics, among others.
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.
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.
Important: In light of the Covid-19 pandemic the University has revised its courses to incorporate the ‘Hybrid Learning Experience’ in a departure from previous academic years and previously published information. The University has changed the delivery (and in some cases the content) of its programmes. Further information on the general principles of hybrid learning can be found at: Hybrid learning experience | University of Surrey.
We have updated key module information regarding the pattern of assessment and overall student workload to inform student module choices. We are currently working on bringing remaining published information up to date to reflect current practice in time for the start of the academic year 2021/22. This means that some information within the programme and module catalogue will be subject to change. Current students are invited to contact their Programme Leader or Academic Hive with any questions relating to the information available.
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, 75 and 120 credits, and additionally for some masters dissertations, 90 credits.
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.
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:
Course 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. View our Timetabling Policy (PDF).
You’ll learn through a stimulating mixture of lectures, laboratory work, tutorials, practical exercises and computational classes. There will be assigned coursework, problem solving and projects aligned with the course material.
Computers and computer programming are used extensively, as teaching 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, carried out in the teaching laboratory, are designed to complement and aid the learning of concepts taught in lectures.
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 be able to select 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.
There may be occasions when the delivery of your teaching is supported by graduate teaching assistants. The University has a set of procedures that govern the use of postgraduate research students in this way.
We assess modules individually and award credits for the successful completion of each one. You will be assessed through a combination of examination and/or coursework, practical examinations and reports.
Please 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.
As a student at Surrey, you can also sign up to our free courses in the following areas:
Living in student accommodation is a great way to meet new people and spark friendships.
Do I meet the requirements for this course?
We require you to submit a full application so that we can formally assess whether you meet the criteria published. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide an outcome based on an enquiry (via email, webform enquiry, phone or live chat).
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, run by the Surrey International Study Centre.
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.
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.
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 contact Admissions on +44 (0)1483 682222 with any queries.
The annual tuition fees for courses starting in October 2021
MPhys (with professional training year)
Professional training £1,850
BSc (Hons) (with foundation year)
BSc (Hons) (with professional training year)
Professional training £1,850
BSc (Hons) (with foundation and professional training year)
Professional training £1,850
- Fees for UK students: The University will apply annual regulated increases in the fee rates as set by Government each year, in order to maintain the same value in real terms.
- Fees for EU students: The UK is now no longer part of the EU, we are awaiting further instruction from the UK government and we will publish this as soon as it is provided. Find out more information about Studying in the UK and the Scholarships for EU students.
- Fees for international students: Annual fees will increase by 4% for each subsequent year of study, rounded up to the nearest £100, subject to any overriding applicable legislative requirements.
- Fees for international students with an integrated foundation year: The programme fee for Year 0 will match the lowest Year 1 overseas fee rate from across the substantive programmes for that year of entry. Students subsequently progressing into Year 1 will be liable for the same fee as overseas students joining at Year 1 for the same programme in that year. Annual fees after Year 1 will increase by 4% for each subsequent year of study, rounded up to the nearest £100, subject to any overriding applicable legislative requirements.
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.
- Students in receipt of a Tuition Fee Loan: will have their fees paid by the Student Loans Company in line with their schedule.
- International students, or UK/EU students who have not taken out a Tuition Fee Loan: are required to pay their fees either in full at the beginning of the programme or in two instalments as follows:
- 50% payable 10 days after the invoice date (expected to be early October of each academic year)
- 50% in January of the same academic year.
The exact date(s) will be detailed on invoices. Students on certain part-time programmes, where fees are paid on a modular or stage basis, are not eligible to pay their fees by instalment.
If you are sponsored: you will provide us with valid sponsorship information that covers the period of your study.
Professional Training placement fees
If you are studying on a programme which contains a Professional Training placement year there will be a reduced fee for the academic year in which you undertake your placement. This is normally confirmed 12 to 18 months in advance, or once Government policy is determined.
See the information about 2020/21 academic year Professional Training placement fee.
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 the placement, students can incur travel, visa and accommodation costs.
Scholarships and bursaries
We're committed to making sure that we offer support for students who might need it.
You have the option to complete a Professional Training placement as part of this course. This will give you the opportunity to develop your professional, academic and personal potential, helping to prepare you for your future career.
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
BSc students can choose to take a Professional Training Year which can add real value to your learning experience.
Over the years, we’ve placed our students with many companies and laboratories, including:
- Airbus Defence and Space
- Ernst and Young LLP
- Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
- Absolute Validation
- National Physical Laboratory
- BAE Systems.
Your personal tutor and the Professional Training Year tutor will discuss your interests and abilities with you in the second year, and support you in applying to our extensive database of potential employers.
Every October, we also hold a Professional Training Year conference which allows current students to hear first-hand experiences from the previous year’s placement students.
Our MPhys course includes an integrated research year which can be completed at Surrey, at a research institution in the UK, or internationally.
Applying for placements
You can apply for numerous opportunities via an open and free-to-all process. Placement providers use their own recruitment and selection procedures and the majority of students will secure their placement in this way.
Students are generally not placed by the University, however we offer support and guidance throughout the process alongside access to a vacancy portal representing thousands of placement opportunities each year. We also provide support if you wish to source your own placement.
Find out about more about the application process.
Please be aware there may be travel costs incurred when attending interviews and assessment centres at the placement provider’s premises.
Study and work abroad
We give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their studies by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities or by completing a Professional Training placement abroad.
Want to study at an overseas institution as part of your degree or work abroad during your Professional Training year? Perhaps you would like to volunteer in India or learn about Brazilian business and culture in São Paulo during your summer holidays? With more than 200 partnerships, from 50 different countries worldwide, there is something for everyone.
Not only is the opportunity to go abroad a hugely enjoyable experience, you will develop key skills and knowledge that will strengthen your CV and increase your employability.
View our study and work abroad exchange information to find out more and see where you can go.
After their second year, BSc students have the option of taking an exchange year abroad at one of our partner universities. These include:
- Aachen Technical University
- Brock University, Canada
- Claustahl Technical University
- Nanyang Technological University
- North Carolina State University
- Seoul National University
- Swinburne University of Technology
- Texas Tech University
- University of Central Florida
- University of Cincinnati
- University of Maryland, College Park
- University of North Texas
- University of Sydney
- La Trobe University
- University of Wollongong
- Victoria University, Wellington.
You may also choose to spend your Professional Training Year working in another country.
Our MPhys students often take up their placements at leading research laboratories and institutions all over the world, including:
- University of Notre Dame, Indiana
- WNSL, Yale University
- ORNL in Tennessee, US
- TRIUMF in Vancouver, Canada
- University of Marburg, Germany
- CERN, Switzerland.
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 procedures, the student 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 an example of our offer terms and conditions and our registration terms and conditions (PDF) from the 2020/2021 academic year as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will generally 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 and changes for the specific academic year.
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 and before you accept an offer. Read more.
In particular we wish to draw your intention to the following matters affecting the academic year 2021/2022:
- Covid-19 - In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has had to change the delivery (and in some cases the content) of its programmes, together with certain University services and facilities for the 2020/2021 academic year. These changes include the implementation of a hybrid teaching approach, details of which can be found here [link]. It is anticipated that these programme changes and the hybrid learning approach will be adopted throughout the academic year 2021/2022, however, given the changing nature of the pandemic, this is being kept under continuous review. Detailed information on all changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is available at the coronavirus course changes page. The linked pages set out information relating to general University changes and will also direct you to consider additional information relating to specific programmes.
- Brexit - The UK is now no longer part of the EU. We are awaiting further information and instruction from the UK government and we will publish this as soon as it is provided. EU students applying for programmes in the academic year 2021/2022 and students applying for courses with placements abroad should visit our dedicated webpages for the latest information on how the UK’s departure from the EU will affect their courses.
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.