Physics and Astrophysics BSc

Start date
September
Duration
3 years
UCAS code
FF35
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours
Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:
£9,250 (UK/EU)
£21,180 (International)
Further information

If you are fascinated by astronomy and have the drive to solve the mysteries of the universe through scientific study, mathematics, computing and experimental work, then this Physics and Astrophysics BSc degree has been created for you.

Physics and Astrophysics BSc

Our Physics and Astrophysics BSc programme is for those who are fascinated by astronomy, and are looking for an in-depth treatment that also gives a good grounding in physics. You will have access to excellent astronomy facilities during your degree, such as our special Astro laboratory which provides astronomical data from observatories around the world. We also have a purpose-built Observatory, which you could use during your project work. All of which make Birmingham a great place for studying Astrophysics.  

There are many opportunities to undertake project work during your degree. For those who take laboratories this will be as part of your lab work in the first two years. A project develops a wide range of skills including planning and report writing. Group studies in your final year is a major project which is undertaken in groups of 10-20 students. The task requires the group to work as a team and enables you to solve a problem of much greater magnitude than could be attempted by an individual. The team work skills learnt here are invaluable in success in a future career. 

You will be taught by academics who are global experts in their field, you'll gain a broad understanding of the essential concepts of physics, ranging from entropy to quantum mechanics and beyond. The transferable skills you’ll also learn will make you very employable; including problem solving, computing and giving presentations.

Why study Physics and Astrophysics BSc at Birmingham?

  • Very broad range of leading research leading to a wide range of optional modules and projects
  • High employability rate, including a high percentage who go on to do PhDs. Employability is embedded through the course
  • Friendly and supportive environment. Year 1 and year 2 have weekly tutorials with 1 academic member of staff and no more than 4 students. Lecturers have open door policy. Elected student representatives meet weekly with staff to resolve any issues quickly
  • Flexibility between our range of specialised courses
    • BSc and MSci identical for first two years so don’t need to make final decision between the two until end of second year.
    • Physics, Physics and Astrophysics, and Physics with Particle Physics very similar initially so possible to swap after first year and in some cases after second year.
    • Theoretical Physics comes in a lab or a no-lab flavour in the first year, in some cases possible to swap to and from this course after first year.
    • Physics MSci and BSc and Astrophysics BSc students can choose to do a year abroad for third year at start of second year (subject to language qualifications or application process to an English speaking university)
    • BSc students can choose to do a year out in computer science during their third year.
    

Interested in Computer Science?

Our ' Year in Computer Science'  offers students from non-computing disciplines the chance to gain in-depth knowledge of computing and enhance their work-based skills through the study of Computer Science. 

  

Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector's participation in EU programmes such as Erasmus and study abroad programmes. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

I chose Birmingham as the Physics department is world-renowned, which for students translates to excellent teaching and learning practices in a large number of fields. The best thing about studying here, for me, is the sense of community. The campus has expanded much beyond the original red-brick buildings, providing modern buildings with state of the art facilities. There are also plenty of sports teams and societies for all tastes and interests.

Adam Greenhill, MSci Theoretical Physics

Modules

Year 1

Semester 1 core modules:

  • Quantum Mechanics 1
  • Optics and Waves
  • Classical Mechanics and Relativity
  • Mathematics for Physicists 1
  • Physics Laboratory 1
  • Physics and Communication Skills 1
  • Widening Horizons Module 1

Semester 2 core modules

  • Electromagnetism and Electric Circuits
  • Temperature and Matter
  • Mathematics for Physicists 1
  • Astro Laboratory
  • Introduction to Astrophysics
  • Widening Horizons Module 2

Year 2

Semester 1 core modules

  • Classical Mechanics and Relativity 2
  • Quantum Mechanics 2
  • Particles and Nuclei and A Quantum Approach to Solids
  • Mathematics for Physicists 2
  • Physics Laboratory 2
  • Physics and Communication Skill 2

Semester 2 core modules

  • Introduction to Astronomical Observing
  • Electromagnetism 2
  • Statistical Physics and Entropy
  • Mathematics for Physicists 2
  • Astrophysics Projects
  • Structure in the Universe

Year 3

Semester 1 core modules

  • Quantum Mechanics 3
  • Statistical Physics
  • Observatory Laboratory

Semester 1 optional modules 

Select two modules. Example optional modules:

  • Observational Cosmology
  • Scientific Computing 2
  • Fission and Fusion
  • Medical Imaging
  • Semiconductor Optoelectronics Relativistic
  • Astrophysics and Black Holes
  • The Life and Death of Stars
  • Physics Critique

Semester 2 core modules:

  • Atomic Physics
  • Group Studies
  • General Physics

Semester 2 optional modules. 

Select two modules. Example optional modules:

  • Images and Communication
  • Particle Physics
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Evolution of Cosmic Structure
  • Asteroseismology and Exoplanets
  • Physics of Music and Sound
  • Physics Teaching in Schools

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2019. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to core modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Fees

Annual tuition fees 2019/20

UK/EU £9,250
International £21,180

Visit our  tuition fees page for more information.

Scholarships

At Birmingham we ensure that fears about finance do not constrain prospective students from considering university and that excellence is rewarded.

How To Apply

Apply through the UCAS website using code FF35. 

UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

View advice on ' How to apply for undergraduate courses', including advice for UK, EU and overseas applicants.

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
A*AA / AAAA
Required subjects and grades:
A level Mathematics and A level Physics grades A*A (or AA as part of four A level offer). You must also pass the practical element of any reformed science A levels which include Biology, Chemistry and Physics taught from 2015.
General Studies:
Accepted as 4th A level in AAAA entry criteria.

International Baccalaureate Diploma

7,6,6 at Higher Level, including Mathematics and Physics, with a minimum of 32 points overall. 7 must be in Mathematics or Physics.

BTEC

Only considered when combined with other qualifications.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

In these programmes there is an option to take an intercalated year in Computer Science; use your chosen code and put ‘computer’ in the ‘further details’ section of your UCAS application form. Contact the admissions team for further details.

Foundation Year

Would you like to study for one of our degrees but lack the entry qualifications we require? Consider a Foundation Year programme which can lead to entry onto one of our courses.

International Students

Standard English language requirements apply, learn more about international entry requirements.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

Hear from Raj about his time spent at studying Physics and Astrophysics at Birmingham

Raj, Physics and Astrophysics

At Birmingham, you will you benefit from our national and internationally leading expertise in a broad range of physics areas. Our researchers will teach your lectures, lead your labs, act as your personal tutors and supervise your projects. That means you’ll be working alongside renowned academics who are pushing the frontiers of scientific knowledge.

How you will learn

Most modules are delivered in the form of traditional lectures given by active physics researchers. You will also learn through tutorials, examples classes and guided study, laboratory practicals and project work – group projects in the third year and individual projects in the fourth year. Lab work is an integral part of most of our degree courses, and while computing and transferrable skills are also interwoven into your studies.

How you will be assessed

Modules are assessed in a variety of ways: exams, class tests, lab assignments and project reports. There is a strong emphasis on project work in the final year/s of your degree course. Lab work is assessed continuously through the term.

Your personal tutor

When you arrive, you’ll be assigned a personal tutor for each of the first two years. You’ll meet them once a week, in a group of no more than four students. Personal tutors are also your first point of call for pastoral support, although we also have a wellbeing officer if you want to chat to someone else about issues that are troubling you. Weekly tutorials are not held in the third year due to the increasing specialism of your work, so you will talk to specific lecturers about your modules, as necessary. In year four, your project supervisor will take on the role of personal tutor.

Seminars and tutorials

Hour-long, weekly tutorials, in a group of no more than four students, give you the chance to chat through any areas of confusion from the previous week’s studies and an opportunity to review feedback on marked assessed work.

Lecturers and world-leading researchers

You will be taught by lecturers and researchers who are world leaders in their fields; several have been part of some of the most celebrated scientific ‘finds’ in recent years – the direct detection of gravitational waves and the discovery of the Higgs boson – and many more are at the forefront of research into cold atoms, molecular physics, metamaterials, atomic architecture and nuclear physics, to name but a few. As well as being world-renowned for their research, our academics are passionate about passing on their knowledge and expertise.

Resources and facilities

Our world-class teaching and laboratory facilities include state-of-the-art study spaces and computing suites, as well as our own particle accelerator, the MC40 cyclotron, and laboratories used for the construction of the detectors and electronics used in the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. We are home to one of the four UK quantum technology hubs, which at Birmingham is developing quantum sensors. We also have our own observatory.

The University of Birmingham Astronomical Society (AstroSoc) organises sessions to view the night sky through the society’s telescopes and puts on talks by experts from all aspects of astronomical-based backgrounds. AstroSoc also runs regular events aimed at the local community.

Contact Hours

Throughout your Physics programmes you can expect an average of about 20 hours of contact time per week comprising of lectures, laboratory based activity and tutorials. These figures may vary due to module choice and progression.

Programmes including a Year in International Study or a Year in Computer Science may include a different amount of contact hours during that year. This figure may also vary on The Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics programmes due to the teaching of the School of Mathematics modules.

As a graduate in Physics, the choice of career remains wide open. You may go on to apply your physics knowledge directly in a scientific environment, or you might be employed in a high-profile job for your problem-solving and computational skills, in the worlds of finance and information technology. 

Physics and Astronomy graduates from Birmingham are highly employable (96% employment rate in Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2016/17) and the career possibilities are numerous, both in the world of science and research and in other sectors of industry, business and commerce.

Physicists are problem solvers at heart, and throughout your degree you’ll learn how to tackle a variety of problems so you can apply your breadth of understanding to many different areas.

Graduates who have studied our courses:

Example employers

  • NASA
  • NHS - Medical Physics
  • Rolls-Royce
  • EDF Energy
  • BAE Systems
  • Barclays Capital
  • PriceWaterhouse Coopers
  • Accenture - Technology Services

Example careers

  • Scientific researcher
  • Medical physicist
  • Energy consultant
  • Defence analyst
  • Meteorologist
  • Statistician
  • Financial services analyst
  • Business consultant

I am now a Management Consultant, focusing specifically on Operational Excellence within the private sector. This means that I am part of a team that helps firms to make their processes more efficient, optimise their workforce and organisational structure, and reduce cost.

Although I don’t use my physics knowledge directly, the skills that I developed make me stand out. Problem-solving skills are highly valued, along with being able to draw insights from data analysis – “what is this really telling us?” as opposed to just presenting the numbers. Working as a consultant means that I get to experience lots of different industries.

Phoebe Cunnane, alumna, MSci Physics.

Careers Network

We provide a wealth of opportunities to develop your career. From your first day at Birmingham to after you graduate, the Careers Network  is here to help you identify and achieve your individual career aspirations through its wide range of services.

Our dedicated careers team brings you information, advice and guidance tailored to your specific needs. Careers advisers offer one-to-one advice appointments where you can discuss your career plans and explore your options. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning  Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Visit the Careers Network website for more details

Internships

Our multi-award-winning work experience team has dedicated internship officers to help find the right work experience for you. Make the most of these opportunities and apply for our Work Experience Bursary Scheme, the Birmingham Undergraduate Internship Programme or one of our successful mentoring schemes. 

The video below talks to students, staff and employers about their internship experience:

Professional Accreditation