Physics with Astronomy BSc (Hons) or MPhys – 2020 entry
Why choose this course
Our BSc and MPhys Physics with Astronomy courses open the door to a wealth of opportunities in industry, academia, finance, data science and the technology industry.
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.
You’ll be taught by leading researchers in exciting fields of research such as the nature of black holes and dark matter.
The National Student Survey 2018 placed our physics courses in the top 10 in the UK for overall satisfaction.
What you will study
Our Physics with Astronomy courses will teach you the core elements of traditional physics – from particle physics, to quantum mechanics. You’ll then specialise in astrophysics, studying how stars, planets, and galaxies evolve.
You’ll be able to carry out a research project within our research groups or in internationally-leading research laboratories. MPhys (Master of Physics) students can also take research placements at major international astronomy laboratories.
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.
|Qualification||Course length||Foundation year||Professional Training||Start date||UCAS||KIS code|
|BSc (Hons)||48 months||Oct 2020||F3FL||View KIS data set|
|BSc (Hons)||36 months||Oct 2020||F3FN||View KIS data set|
|MPhys||48 months||Oct 2020||FHF5||View KIS data set|
|BSc (Hons)||48 months||Oct 2020||F306||View KIS data set|
|BSc (Hons)||60 months||Oct 2020||F307||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.
Physics with Astronomy placements
If you are a BSc student, you’ll have the option of taking a Professional Training Year. This 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:
- Airbus Defence and Space
- Ernst and Young LLP
- Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
- Absolute Validation
- National Physical Laboratory
- BAE Systems.
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. Our students often impress their placement employers so much that they are offered a permanent job when they graduate.
The optional Professional Training placement starts at the end of your second academic year. Preparation for the Professional Training placement begins during Year 2. If you decide not to do the Professional Training placement year, you proceed directly to Year 3 to complete your taught modules and graduate in your third year.
If you are studying a BSc course, you’ll 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 to apply to companies in our extensive database.
Every October, a Professional Training conference allows the previous year’s students to tell you about their experience first-hand.
An MPhys course includes an integrated research year which can be completed in the UK or internationally.
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 skills and knowledge of fundamental theory. Our courses will provide you with the analytical, experimental and computational skills valued in a wide variety of careers.
All Surrey physics students learn a range of employability skills during their studies. These include scientific investigation skills, which covers essential communication skills, group work and presentations, problem solving in the laboratory environment, as well as 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 company.
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.
Many of our graduates, particularly those with an MPhys degree, go on to postgraduate courses 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.
Graduates have also taken up roles such as research physicists, consultants, engineers, teachers and bankers in companies including the BBC, BAE Systems and EADS Astrium. 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, 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. 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, BSc students will have the option of taking an exchange year abroad at one of our partner universities, including:
- 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.
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 spend your Professional Training placement year or research year working in another country. If you work in another part of Europe, you may be eligible for an Erasmus+ grant. This is an excellent opportunity not only to gain valuable work experience but also to improve or learn another language.
MPhys students have spent their research placements at Notre Dame (Indiana), WNSL at Yale University and ORNL (Tennessee) in the US; TRIUMF in Vancouver, Canada; the University of Marburg in Germany; and CERN in Switzerland.
If you choose to do your research placement in another part of Europe, you may be eligible for an Erasmus+ grant.
We have extensive facilities within the Department of Physics, including our on-campus teaching telescope and undergraduate teaching laboratories, which recently underwent a thorough refurbishment.
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.
We’ve also recently completed a £3.5 million refurbishment of our research laboratories, which our undergraduate students use as they carry out their final-year research projects. Our 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 (PDF) 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) Astronomy 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) Astronomy programme.
Optional modules for Year 3 - FHEQ Level 6
Semester 1: choose 2
Semester 2: choose 2
Year 3 (Semester 1)
Optional modules for Year 3 (Semester 1) - FHEQ Level 6
Year 3 (Semester 2)
Year 4 (Semester 2)
Optional modules for Year 4 (Semester 2) - FHEQ Level 7
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).
You’ll learn through a stimulating mixture of lectures, laboratory work, tutorials, practical exercises and computational classes, as well as carrying out assigned coursework, problem solving and projects.
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.
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.
READ JI Prof (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, Academic Skills and Development and the Disability and Neurodiversity Service 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.
Disability and Neurodiversity Service
The University’s Disability and Neurodiversity Service 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.
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.
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 email Admissions with any queries.
|Qualification||Start date||Course length||Professional Training||UK/EU fees||Overseas fees||Professional Training fees|
|BSc (Hons)||Oct 2020||48 months||To be confirmed||To be confirmed||To be confirmed|
|BSc (Hons)||Oct 2020||36 months||To be confirmed||To be confirmed||Not applicable|
|MPhys||Oct 2020||48 months||To be confirmed||To be confirmed||To be confirmed|
|BSc (Hons)||Oct 2020||48 months||To be confirmed||To be confirmed||Not applicable|
|BSc (Hons)||Oct 2020||60 months||To be confirmed||To be confirmed||To be confirmed|
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
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.