Physics (International Study) BSc

Start date
4 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours, Study abroad year

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

Would you like to spend one year of your degree studying physics at a foreign university? Perhaps you are interested in developing your language skills whilst studying for a degree or you see yourself working abroad in a future career. If so, our Physics (International Study) BSc programme might be for you.

Physics (International Study) BSc

This four-year Physics (International Study) BSc degree programme provides a thorough training in physics, together with the opportunity to study at a university in another European country, or further afield such as Australia, Canada and Japan.

The emphasis during the year abroad is on developing ability in the foreign language if applicable and on understanding the cultural, historical and social aspects of the host country. The combination of skills you acquire in physics and mathematics with fluency in a foreign language is attractive to potential employers.

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 (International Study) 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.

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.

All the core modules introduce you to the staples of physics that give us our understanding of technology and the universe and all the amazing processes that we see around us. I like Practical Labs because you learn to: become scientifically rigorous, structure a scientific lab report, design your own experiments, cope when things go wrong and practically apply the physics you have learnt in lectures to experiment. It really distinguishes you from others who haven’t done it and gives you a competitive edge.

Dwayne Spiteri, MSci Physics with Particle Physics and Cosmology


During your first year, you will study an appropriate language as a ‘Module Outside their Main Discipline’. We strongly encourage second year students to follow an additional language course in their own time, taught by the Department of Modern Languages.

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

Your third year on this course is spent abroad on an approved programme of study at a university in Europe as part of the ERASMUS exchange scheme. The University of Birmingham has strong links with universities in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, as well as in many other EU countries.

It is also possible for you to study for one year in an international university such as in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the USA under other exchange programmes co-ordinated by the University. There is competition for these places, which are allocated by the University on the basis of academic merit.

Modules will depend upon the chosen University, the emphasis during the year abroad for the BSc programme is on developing ability in the foreign language and on understanding the cultural, historical and social aspects of the host country.

The emphasis during the year abroad is on developing ability in the foreign language and on understanding the cultural, historical and social aspects of the host country.  On returning to Birmingham you will complete your studies by following the final year of year of the BSc course. 

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.

Year 4

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.


Annual tuition fees 2019/20

UK/EU £9,250
International £21,180

Visit our  tuition fees page for more information.


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.

How To Apply

Apply through the UCAS website using code F301.

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:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
A level Mathematics and A level Physics grades A*A (or AA as part of the four A level offer). GCSE grade 6/B in relevant language to study abroad at a non-English speaking university. 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.


Only considered when combined with other qualifications.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

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 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 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.

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


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:

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