Why Physics at the University of Birmingham?

Choosing a university can be a big decision, we want to provide you with as many details as you need to make an informed choice. The best start is to visit us at an open day where you can talk to staff, students and the admissions team about the application, course and student life. If you do apply to study physics with us and are made an offer we will invite you back for an Applicant Visit Day, a further chance to really explore the department in depth and make up your mind as to whether we are the right choice for you. Find out more about visiting us. 

It may not be possible for everyone to visit us or you may need some more information after a visit. We hope these pages provide all the information you need but if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact the admissions tutor.

Rankings

The school of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham consistently rates highly in national league tables.

  • 3rd in the Guardian University Guide 2018: league table for physics.
  • 6th in the Complete University Guide Physics and Astronomy subject table 2018.
  • 6th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide Physics ranking 2018.

Teaching and the course

Our courses are designed to give grounding in core physics in the early stages and then allow specialisation and a wealth of options during the later years. As such it is often possible to swap between our specialised courses early in your studies. Our degrees are available as three year bachelors and four year integrated masters and it is possible to swap between these two options subject to satisfactory achievement during the first two years of study.

Contact hours are split between lectures, labs, computing classes, small group example classes and tutorial sessions and amounts to around 22 hours a week in the first year. Our tutorials are held weekly in groups of no more than four students and our invaluable to ensuring our students have a ready source of academic and personal help throughout their studies.

For more details on the courses please see our course pages or download our brochure.

Employability

We are the top Physics department in the UK for graduate employability (Destination of Leavers form Higher Education Survey 2015/16). Our courses aim to prepare you for graduate level employment either as a Physicist or in the wider working world. We have a large careers centre on campus, and a careers tutor in the School of Physics and Astronomy. We run careers tutorials in Year 2 of the degree, and organise careers fairs for our undergraduates, where representatives from companies come to talk to and recruit our students. We also provide special advice for our final-year students who are applying for jobs.

Research

The research groups at Birmingham perform work that has been judged to be of world-leading quality in the most recent government Research Excellence Framework. This research informs our teaching and students have a chance to not only study these forefront areas in lectures but also become an active part of one of our research groups during their fourth year project. Some of our research groups include those involved in the discovery of the Higgs Boson, the team who developed a Macroscopic invisibility clock, and astronomers involved in the celebrate TRAPPIST1 exoplanet discovery. Additionally we are home to the UK Quantum Technology Hub for sensors and meteorology the result of significant investment in this exciting new area of technology and house the Birmingham Institute for Gravitational Wave astronomy, a unique group in the UK which is involved in all areas of physics related to gravitational waves.

For more information see our research pages.

Facilities

Our laboratories contain state of the art equipment specialised to teaching degree level Physics, allowing our students to pursue a wide range of experimental interests throughout their degree. We also have our own observatory just outside the city with a state-of-the-art telescope and equipment. The department has plenty of study spaces and computers in addition to other facilities around the campus. There is also a café in the physics building which is a great meeting place and the perfect place to grab lunch between lectures.

Student Experience

Overwhelmingly our students tell us that they chose to study at Birmingham not only because of its leading reputation, flexible course and beautiful campus but also because of the warm and friendly atmosphere within the department. Our department study spaces, tutorial system, student societies and enthusiastic staff combine to provide a real community feel across the School of Physics and Astronomy. We invite you to visit us to find out more or investigate the results of the National Student Survey, where we are consistently ranked among the best Physics departments in the UK.

Eloise BrownThe staff in the school of Physics and Astronomy are so friendly and approachable, which is perhaps most evident during the annual trip to Coniston [in the Lake District] for a weekend in February. This weekend of walking was one of my highlights of the year! There was such a fun, relaxed atmosphere and was a great opportunity to meet other students. Other highlights of my year include the PPS ball, AstroSoc camping trip and the AstroSoc annual dinner. The University of Birmingham is a campus university, but is a quick and easy train journey (or walk) away from the city centre, so you really get the best of both worlds! Eloise Brown - MSci Physics and Astrophysics

University

If you haven’t visited the university before you may be surprised at our oasis of green only 10 minutes from the centre of the UK’s second biggest city. We have the best of both a campus and city university and our continual investment in the campus means whenever you join us you’ll be guaranteed brand new facilities and estates to enjoy.

Our state of the art library was opened in 2016 and shortly followed by our impressive sports centre in 2017 which houses Birmingham’s only 50m swimming pool. Our beautiful campus is currently being enhanced with even more green space in the form of our green heart development, due for completion in 2019.

There’s much more information on student life and the university in general throughout our website.