Physics BSc

Start date
September
Duration
3 years
UCAS code
F300
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

Our stimulating and flexible Physics BSc degree programme gives you a firm grounding in core physics. Flexibility is the essence of this degree, allowing you to select a range of modules to suit particular interests, covering a broad spectrum of cutting-edge topics, leaving space for you to specialise where you wish.

Physics BSc

The Physics BSc is ideal if you want to keep your studies broad, want to specialise in an area we do not offer a specific programme for, or are unsure what you might want to focus on in the future.  You can swap between the Physics BSc and Physics MSci until the end of the second year, provided you meet the criteria. Additionally you can swap to the Physics and Astrophysics or the Physics with Particle Physics and Cosmology course at the end of your first or second year too. You can also choose to take a year abroad, subject to language requirements.

There are many opportunities to undertake project work during your degree, foe example as part of your lab work in the first two years. A project develops a wide range of skills including planning and report writing and the 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 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 and Cosmology are very similar initially so possible to swap after first year and in some cases after second 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.
 

The Physics course really caught my attention when applying due to the quality of teaching which shone through at the Open Days. The best points of my course are learning from the excellent lecturers and using the best equipment in labs while constantly having your mind stretched and challenged by other students who love the subject as much as me. Physics is special because it’s so broad yet you can specialise in whatever you want. The course here is unbelievably personal which, combined with the expert staff in every possible field, means Physics at Birmingham is a unique and extremely rewarding experience.

Alex Fryer, MSci Physics

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. 

Modules

Modules structures are currently being updated for 2020, please check back for up to date listings.

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
  • Physics Laboratory 1
  • Widening Horizons Module 2

Semester 2 optional modules

Choose one module. Example optional modules:

  • Introduction to Astrophysics
  • Introduction to Particle Physics and Cosmology
  • Introduction to Nanoscale Physics
  • Chaos and Non-linear Systems

Year 2

Semester 1

  • 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

  • Electromagnetism 2
  • Statistical Physics and Entropy
  • Mathematics for Physicists 2
  • Physics Projects

Semester 2 optional modules

Choose two modules. Example optional modules:

  • Introduction to Astronomical Observing
  • Nuclear Physics and Neutrinos
  • Structure in the Universe
  • Electronics
  • Modern Optics
  • Eigenphysics
  • Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics

Year 3

Semester 1 core modules

  • Quantum Mechanics 3
  • Statistical Physics
  • Physics Laboratory 3 (20 credits) or Physics Laboratory 3 (10 credits) and Object-Oriented Programming with C++ with Scientific Computing 1 and/or Scientific Computing 2

Semester 1 optional modules

Select two modules. Example optional modules:

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

Semester 2 core modules

  • Group Studies
  • General Physics

Semester 2 optional modules

Select three modules. Example optional modules:

  • Images and Communication
  • Atomic Physics
  • 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.

  

Tuition fees for placement years

There is a reduced tuition fee for the academic year spent in industry or whilst studying abroad (where available). Fee information and further clarification is available on the University fees and funding page.

   

For students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

How To Apply

Apply through the UCAS website using code F300.

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.

Standard offer

International Requirements



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 the 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 Mathematics and Physics qualifications.

Other qualifications are considered, please contact the admissions tutor for more information, learn more about entry requirements.

Foundation Year

Are you a UK/EU student and would like to study for one of our degrees but lack the entry qualifications we require? If you are not studying A Level Mathematics you can consider a Foundation Year programme which can lead to entry onto one of our courses.

International Students

We accept a range of international qualifications, please contact the admissions tutor for more information.

 

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 Stephanie about her time at Birmingham

Stephanie, Physics MSci

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 that 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. Lab work is an integral part of your degree courses and 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, problem sheets, lab assignments and project reports. There is a strong emphasis on project work in the final year of your degree course. Lab work is assessed continuously through the term.

Your personal tutor

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. These tutorials 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. They are also an opportunity to chat about any areas of Physics that interest you.

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.

Lecturers and world-leading researchers

You will be taught by lecturers and researchers that are world leaders in their fields; several have been part of some of the most celebrated scientific discoveries 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, nanophysics 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 facilities include state of the art study spaces, computing suites and teaching laboratories. Our research facilities include our own particle accelerator, the MC40 cyclotron, and laboratories used for the construction of the detectors and electronics used in the experiments at the LHC, CERN. We are also home to one of the four UK Quantum Technology hubs, which at Birmingham is developing state-of-the-art quantum sensors.

Contact Hours

Throughout our 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.

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.

Over 40% of our students go on to further study after graduating, with around two thirds of those being research leading to a PhD, a route open to you directly after completing an MSci degree. As well as being the main route into academic research, a PhD also opens the door to many careers that need specific advanced scientific knowledge. The most compelling reason to do a PhD is love of the subject, and the high number of our graduates choosing this route illustrates the satisfaction of students who study with us. The remaining third of students who carry on to further study either take a specialised postgraduate masters in subjects such as a very specific branch of physics, or engineering or computing, or they are pursuing a postgraduate teaching qualification such as a PGCE or PGdipEd.

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