Physics BSc (Hons) or MPhys – 2018 entry
Why choose this course
Partnered with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and home to superb facilities and internationally-leading research, the University of Surrey offers distinctive Physics programmes that are among the very best in the UK and which reflect the diversity and excitement of the subject. The courses are highly rated in national league tables, and have one of the best employability rates in the country.
What you will study
Our physics programmes offer you a very flexible choice of modules across many different areas – both traditional and cutting edge, theoretical and applied – reflecting the vast range of expertise among the academics in Surrey’s Department of Physics.
You will gain a thorough understanding of all the core elements of the subject – such as particle, nuclear and atomic physics; quantum mechanics; astronomy; and astrophysics – and choose optional modules that suit your interests. Providing further flexibility, you can also switch between any of our specialist Physics degrees during your first year.
Many of our students opt to take an integrated Research Year or Professional Training placement year, giving them invaluable work and research experience, and a real head start whether they enter the job market or continue with postgraduate studies.
|Qualification||Course length||Professional Training||UCAS||KIS code|
|BSc (Hons)||36 months||F300||View KIS data set|
|BSc (Hons)||48 months||F301||View KIS data set|
|MPhys||48 months||F303||View KIS data set|
Professional Training placements
As part of this course you have the option to complete a Professional Training placement. These will give you the opportunity to develop your professional, academic and personal potential, equipping you to be adaptable, resilient, globally minded, confident, entrepreneurial and digitally savvy in the workplace. These qualities are widely recognised by employers and a significant proportion of placement students at Surrey are offered graduate-level jobs or go onto postgraduate study.
Find out more about Professional Training placements and discover how these have transformed our students’ lives and career choices.
Undertaking a Professional Training placement can add real value to your experience and enable you to apply theoretical understanding, bringing it alive in the world outside university.
We offer a Professional Training placement with international opportunities and we have been placing students with companies for more than 40 years. Often students who do well on placement are offered a permanent post after graduation.
Over the years, we have placed our students with many companies and laboratories, including:
- BAE Systems
- HMS Sultan
- INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma
- Instituto de Carboquimica
- Jaguar Cars
- National Physical Laboratory
- National Radiological Protection Board
- Royal Surrey County Hospital
- Science Museum
- Southampton Oceanography Centre
The optional Professional Training placement starts at the end of the second academic year. Preparation for the Professional Training placement begins during Year 2.
If you are studying a BSc programme, you will discuss your particular interests and abilities with your personal tutor and the Professional Training tutor during Year 2.
The Department will look closely at your CV and help you with all aspects of applying to potential employers. Every October, a Professional Training conference allows the previous year’s students to tell you about their experience first-hand. The Department will help you to apply to companies in our extensive database.
If you decide not to do the Professional Training year, you proceed directly to Year 3 to complete your taught modules and graduate in your third year.
Our students gain huge experience of a wide range of employment skills during their placement year, giving them a significant advantage when applying for jobs after graduation.
Applying for placements
Professional Training placements are usually applied for and secured via an open and free-to-all process, within which students can select and apply for numerous opportunities. Placement providers use their own recruitment and selection procedures and the majority of students will secure their placement in this way. However, support is also provided to students wishing to source their own placement, subject to university requirements being met.
Students are generally not placed by the University, however they are given thorough support and guidance alongside access to a vacancy portal representing thousands of placement opportunities each year. Please be aware there may be travel costs incurred when attending interviews and assessment centres at the placement provider’s premises.
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Recognised by the Institute of Physics (IOP) for the purpose of eligibility for Associate Membership.
Careers and graduate prospects
We offer careers information, advice and guidance to all students whilst studying with us, which is extended to our alumni for three years after leaving the University.
Physicists are highly sought after in industry, research, education, management, medicine, law and business, because of their broad practical skills and knowledge of fundamental theory.
Our degrees will provide you with the analytical, experimental and computational skills valued in a wide range of career opportunities.
All Surrey Physics students learn a range of employability skills during their studies. These include a dedicated Year 1 module, Scientific Investigation Skills, which covers key communication skills, group work and presentations, problem-solving in the laboratory environment, plus sessions on interview techniques, CV preparation and job applications.
Students who take either the Professional Training or Research Year placements also get invaluable employment experience at their host institution.
Graduates have taken up roles such as research physicists, consultants, engineers, teachers and bankers in companies including the BBC, BAE Systems and Astrium. After your degree, you may decide to become a professional scientist, but physics opens many other doors too. Your skills will be valued by a wide range of employers in areas such as journalism, law, IT, education and finance.
Many of our graduates, particularly those with an MPhys degree, go on to postgraduate degrees in order to become researchers. Other graduates have launched careers with organisations such as:
- Shell International Petroleum
- GEC Marconi Research
- National Physical Laboratory
- Defence Research Agency
- Surrey Medical Imaging Systems
Many have gone on to take Masters degrees in a range of subjects, such as geophysics, nanotechnology, meteorology, quantum field theory, education management and science communication, while others have chosen to study for PhDs in astrophysics, semiconductors or photonics.
Study and work abroad
We give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities or by completing a Professional Training placement abroad. In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV. Visit our global exchanges pages to check where you can go.
You have the option of spending one or two semesters abroad in your second year at one of our partner universities, including:
- Aachen Technical University
- University of Ulm
- Chaulstahl Technical University
- University of Halle
- University of Tessaloniki
- University of Drebchen
- Nanyang Technological University
- Seoul National University
- University of Cincinnati
- North Carolina State University
- University of Central Florida
- University of North Texas
- Swinburne University of Technology
- University of Sydney
- La Trobe University
- Victoria University, Wellington
- Brock University
International experiences can expose you to a new cultural environment that develops your adaptation and communication skills and also your ability to deal with unfamiliar situations, thus strengthening your academic and professional profile.
In addition, or alternatively, you may wish to consider spending your Professional Training year working in another country. If you work in another part of Europe you will be eligible for an Erasmus+ grant. This is an excellent opportunity not only to acquire valuable work experience but also to improve or learn another language.
MPhys students have spent their research placements at:
- Notre Dame: Indiana
- WNSL, Yale University
- ORNL in Tennessee, USA
- TRIUMF in Vancouver, Canada
- University of Marburg in Germany
- CERN, Switzerland
If you choose to do your research placement in another part of Europe you will 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.
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. All taught modules are 15 credits. Project modules and dissertation 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 and/or student demand.
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 1)
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.
You will have a stimulating mixture of lectures, laboratory work, tutorials, practical exercises and computational classes. There will be assigned coursework, problem solving and projects.
Computers are used extensively, as teaching aids via self-learning packages, 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, undertaken in the teaching laboratory, are designed to complement and aid the learning of concepts taught in lectures.
Discover more about our academic staff in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Science.
This course is taught by academic staff from the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.
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.
For the MPhys degrees, 30 per cent of the degree is awarded for the Year 2 modules, 30 per cent for the Research Year and associated dissertation, and 40 per cent for the Year 3 modules.
For the BSc degrees, 35 per cent of the degree mark is awarded for the Year 2 modules with 65 per cent awarded in Year 3.
Coursework accounts for about 30 per cent of the overall degree mark.
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.
Policies and regulations
Learning and disability support
We have two services, the Student Personal Learning and Study Hub (SPLASH) and Additional Learning Support (ALS) which can help develop your learning.
Student Personal Learning and Study Hub
SPLASH 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
ALS is the University’s disability and neurodiversity service which supports students with disabilities, long-term health conditions, specific learning differences (for example: dyslexia and dyspraxia) and other neurodiverse conditions (for example: autism spectrum and attention deficit disorder).
If you have a disability, we encourage you to disclose your condition and register with the service so you can be appropriately supported during your studies.
The ALS team can arrange exam and learning support adjustments, give advice on applications for the Disabled Students' Allowance and screen students for dyslexia and dyspraxia. Regular study skills and mentoring support is also available.
See the Additional Learning Support website for more information.
What qualifications do you need?
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.5 overall with 6.0 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.
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||Course length||Professional Training||UK/EU fees||Overseas fees||Professional Training fees|
|BSc (Hons)||36 months||£9,250||£20,500||Not applicable|
|BSc (Hons)||48 months||£9,250||£20,500||£1,800|
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) programme:
- Commuting (local travel expenses): unable to specify amount - some travel costs for commuting schools as part of Physics in Education module
Professional Training placement fees
Programmes marked with a tick in the table above include a Professional Training placement.
A reduced fee is charged for Professional Training placements.
Fees will not have to be paid up front for those eligible students who decide to take up the Government's loan for higher education fees. The Professional Training placement is a key factor in the high employability rates achieved by students with Surrey degrees.
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.
Scholarships and bursaries
We're committed to making sure that we offer support for students who might need it.
Scholarship for Pioneers of Tomorrow 2018 entry
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The Full Surrey Award 2018 entry
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Surrey Prestige Scholarship 2018 entry
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"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)."