Physics with Astronomy BSc (Hons) or MPhys – 2020 entry
BSc (Hons) UCAS: F3FN
3 yearsView KIS data set
BSc (Hons) UCAS: F3FL
4 years with professional trainingView KIS data set
BSc (Hons) UCAS: F306
4 years with foundation yearView KIS data set
MPhys UCAS: FHF5
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 undertake original research with leading scientists in the field. The courses will also 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.
A unique aspect of both courses is our placement programme:
- As part of our BSc course, you can undertake a paid year-long placement in an industry research laboratory or company, gaining valuable real-world experience as part of your degree.
- On our MPhys course you will undertake 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 be able to carry out a research project within one of our world-leading research groups. On the MPhys programme, you will undertake a unique year-long research placement that can either be within one of our research groups, or at an internationally-leading research laboratory anywhere in the world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
As a student at Surrey, you can also sign up to our free courses in the following areas:
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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 email Admissions with any queries.
UK and EU £9,250
BSc (Hons) (with professional training year)
UK and EU £9,250
Professional training To be confirmed
BSc (Hons) (with foundation year)
UK and EU £9,250
MPhys (with professional training year)
UK and EU £9,250
Professional training To be confirmed
BSc (Hons) (with foundation and professional training year)
UK and EU £9,250
Professional training To be confirmed
- 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: While the UK is part of the EU, the University will apply annual regulated increases in the fee rates as set by the Government each year, in order to maintain the same value in real terms. Once the UK has left the EU, the fees rules may change and the University is bound to comply with applicable legislation.
- 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 2019/20 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 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.
Application Deadline: 19.01.20
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Application Deadline: 30.09.20
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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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.