Physics (International Study) MSci

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

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21 are as follows:
£9,250 (UK/EU)
£22,260 (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) Msci degree programme might be for you.

Physics (International Study) MSci

This four-year Physics (International Study) MSci 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.

On the Physics (International Study) MSci course, a greater emphasis during the year abroad is placed on physics as opposed to the BSc version of this degree. The combination of skills you acquire in physics and mathematics with fluency in a foreign language is attractive to potential employers.

To undertake an exchange to a non-English speaking university, MSci Students must hold an A Level (grade B or above) in an appropriate language.  You are required to continue with language lessons during the first two years of your studies at the University of Birmingham. See the modules section for further details.

A large part of your time in the fourth year in this Physics MSci degree course will be devoted to an independent research project where you have the opportunity to work alongside our world-leading research groups. There are many other opportunities to undertake project work during your degree, for 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. 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) MSci 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 an 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. 
    • You can swap to Physics, Physics and Astrophysics, and Physics with Particle Physics and Cosmology after your first year.
    • You may be able to swap between the MSci or BSc version of Physics (International Study), the decision is made at the start of the second year (subject to language qualifications or application process to an English speaking university).

My favourite part about my time studying Physics at the University of Birmingham has been through the incredible opportunities I have been provided with, mainly the chance to complete my third year through a year abroad in the United States. The US was just one of the many countries I had the option of applying for; other options included Australia, Malaysia, France, Germany, Canada and many others. Whilst it was hard leaving Birmingham where Iā€™d had such an incredible first two years, my year abroad was probably the best year of my life and, as I was taking the MSci course, it all counted towards my degree!

Kousha Wrigley, Physics MSci (International Study)


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

Core modules:

  • Quantum Mechanics and Optics and Waves - 10 credits
  • Classical Mechanics and Relativity 1 - 10 credits
  • Classical Mechanics and Relativity 2 - 10 credits
  • Mathematics for Physicists 1A - 10 credits
  • Mathematics for Physicists 1B - 10 credits
  • Physics Laboratory 1A - 10 credits
  • Physics Laboratory 1B - 10 credits
  • Physics and Communication Skills 1 - 10 credits
  • Electromagnetism and Temperature and Matter - 20 credits
  • Introduction to Probability and Statistics - 10 credits

Optional modules.

Choose 10 credits. Example modules:

  • Chaos and Non-linear Systems A - 10 credits
  • Introduction to Particle Physics and Cosmology - 10 credits
  • Introduction to Astrophysics - 10 credits

Year 2

Core modules:

  • Quantum Mechanics 2 - 10 credits
  • Particles and Nuclei and A Quantum Approach to Solids - 10 credits
  • Mathematics for Physicists 2A - 10 credits
  • Mathematics for Physicists 2B - 10 credits
  • Physics Laboratory 2 - 10 credits
  • Physics and Communication Skill 2 - 10 credits
  • Electromagnetism 2 - 10 credits
  • Statistical Physics and Entropy - 10 credits
  • Physics Project - 10 credits
  • Optics - 10 credits

Optional modules.

Choose 20 credits. Example modules:

  • Observational Astronomy - 10 credits
  • Nuclear Physics and Neutrinos - 10 credits
  • Structure in the Universe - 10 credits
  • Electronics  10 credits
  • Eigenphysics - 10 credits
  • Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics - 10 credits

Year 3 (International Year)

Modules will depend upon the chosen University. Your programme of study will be devised through liaison with the academic tutors at Birmingham and those at your host institution. This will ensure that during your year abroad you study comparable material to the content of the standard MSci Physics programme.

To undertake an exchange to a non-English speaking university, MSci Students must hold an A Level (grade B or above) in an appropriate language. You are required to continue with language lessons during the first two years of your studies at the University of Birmingham.

Students wishing to study in Europe must do so at one of our partner institutions, with whom we can guarantee an exchange programme. Students wishing to study at an International University (ie, outside of Europe) are not guaranteed an exchange. This is because any allocation depends on academic achievement.

For exchange outside of Europe, students must list seven universities in order of preference, with the first three choices being from three different countries. International university placements have been undertaken in many countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States of America.

On returning to Birmingham you will complete your studies by following the final year of your course.

Tuition fees for placement years (where applicable)

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

In the fourth year you become a member of a research group for an individual project.

Core module

  • Project Seminar and Viva - 20 credits
  • Project Planning and Preliminary Report - 10 credits
  • Project Dissertation - 20 credits

Optional modules. 

Select 70 credits. Example optional modules:

  • Numerical Weather Forecasting and Climate Modelling - 10 credits
  • Physics Critique - 10 credits
  • Observational Cosmology - 10 credits
  • Phase Transitions - 10 credits
  • Superconductivity - 10 credits
  • The General Theory of Relativity - 10 credits
  • Advanced Condensed Matter Physics - 10 credits
  • Complex Variable Theory - 10 credits
  • Images and Communication - 10 credits
  • Many Particle and Quantum Field Theory - 10 credits
  • Condensed Matter Physics - 10 credits
  • Nuclear Physics - 10 credits
  • Quantum Optics - 10 credits
  • Relativistic Astrophysics - 10 credits
  • Evolution of Cosmic Structure - 10 credits
  • Asteroseismology and Exoplanets - 10 credits
  • Quantum Mechanics 4 - 10 credits
  • Fission and Fusion - 10 credits
  • Current Topics in Particle Physics - 10 credits
  • Experimental Particle Physics Techniques - 10 credits
  • Inference from Scientific Data - 10 credits

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 2020. 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 2020/21

  • £9,250 - UK/EU
  • £22,260 - International

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 (where applicable)

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 website.

How To Apply

Apply through the UCAS website using code F303.

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:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
A level Mathematics and A level Physics grades A*A. A Level Grade 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:
not accepted

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 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.

International students applying for this programme will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office before the University can issue you with a Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). We recommend that you apply for your ATAS certificate as soon as you receive an offer from us. More information can be found here:

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.

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


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