Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics MSci

Start date
4 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Joint Honours combined

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 equally drawn to studying for a degree in maths and a degree in physics, then this Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics MSci programme is for you. The course is a joint honours degree between the School of Physics and Astronomy and the School of Mathematics.

Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics MSci

Our Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics MSci degree course draws on the expertise of Birmingham physicists and mathematicians engaged in cutting-edge research. This will enable you to gain strong theoretical skills from experts in this field, during your modules and your final-year project too. You will become a member of one of our research groups and tackle a real open ended research problem for your project.

Initially your time is split evenly between the School of Physics and Astronomy and the School of Mathematics, in later years you can choose to focus on one or keep options from both. As the two Schools are physically located next door to one another and the subjects themselves are close neighbours too, this joint honours course is unique in providing you a cohesive programme of study with plenty of choice.

Modern applied mathematics has provided many concepts that have revolutionised physical thought in unexpected directions. What can you bring?

Why study Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics 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 one 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.

The MSci Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics course is an amazing opportunity for students who want to study topics in both physics and maths from lecturers who are genuinely passionate about their research. Whilst the course has been academically challenging, I found that the members of staff were always happy to help with any questions I had. Additionally, weekly tutorials in the first two years of the programme allowed me to work through any problems I had with my tutor. As the cohort for the course was small, I found it easy to build friendships with other students. This was helpful as it meant that there was an environment where everyone could approach and help each other out.

Sandeep Shirgill, MSci Theoretical and Mathematical Physics


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
  • Communication Skills and Data Analysis
  • Special Relativity, Probability and Random Processes
  • Real Analysis and the Calculus
  • Vectors, Geometry and Linear Algebra

Semester 2 core modules

  • Electromagnetism and Electric Circuits
  • Temperature and Matter
  • Chaos and Non-linear Systems
  • Dynamical Systems: from Linear to Chaos
  • Real Analysis and the Calculus
  • Vectors, Geometry and Linear Algebra
  • Mechanics

Year 2

Semester 1 core modules

  • Quantum Mechanics 2
  • Particles and Nuclei and A Quantum Approach to Solids
  • Physics and Communication Skill 2
  • Multivariable and Vector Analysis
  • Differential Equations
  • Linear Algebra

Semester 2 core modules

  • Electromagnetism 2
  • Statistical Physics and Entropy
  • Eigenphysics
  • Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics
  • Multivariable and Vector Analysis
  • Differential Equations

Year 3

Semester 1 core modules

  • Quantum Mechanics 3
  • Statistical Physics
  • Complex Variable Theory
  • Continuum Mechanics

Semester 1 optional modules 

Select two modules. Example optional modules:

  • Observational Cosmology
  • Scientific Computing 1
  • Scientific Computing 2
  • Fission and Fusion
  • Medical Imaging
  • Semiconductor Optoelectronics
  • Relativistic Astrophysics and Black Holes
  • The Life and Death of Stars
  • Partial Differential Equations
  • Methods in PDEs
  • Mathematical Finance
  • Mathematical Biology I
  • Numerical Methods II
  • Applied Numerical Dynamical Systems
  • Perturbation Theory and Asymptotics
  • Research Skills in Mathematics

Semester 2 core modules

  • Radiation and Relativity
  • Continuum Mechanics

Semester 2 optional modules. 

Select four modules. Example optional modules:

  • Images and Communication
  • Atomic Physics
  • Group Studies
  • General Physics
  • Particle Physics
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Evolution of Cosmic Structure
  • Asteroseismology and Exoplanets
  • Physics of Music and Sound
  • Physics Teaching in Schools
  • Chaos and Dynamical Systems
  • Current Topics in Theoretical Physics
  • Methods in PDEs
  • Mathematical Finance
  • Modelling with PDEs

Year 4

Core modules

  • Either Theory Project or Mathematics Project - 40 credits

Semester 1 optional modules. 

Select five modules. Example optional modules:

  • Quantum Mechanics 4
  • Current Topics in Particle Physics
  • Experimental Particle Physics Techniques
  • Fission and Fusion
  • Numerical Modelling of Physical Systems
  • Observational Cosmology Physical
  • Principals of Radar
  • Phase Transitions
  • Superconductivity
  • The General Theory of Relativity
  • Nanophotonics
  • Ultracold Atoms and Quantum Gases
  • Mathematical Finance
  • Advanced Condensed Matter Physics
  • Nonlinear Waves
  • Topics in Applied Mathematics
  • Methods in Partial Differential Equations

Semester 2 optional modules. 

Select three modules. Example optional modules:

  • Images and Communication
  • Many Particle and Quantum Field Theory
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Quantum Optics
  • Relativistic Astrophysics
  • Evolution of Cosmic Structure
  • Asteroseismology and Exoplanets
  • Insights Into Stellar Structure
  • Numerical Linear Algebra with Applications
  • Mathematical Finance
  • Nonlinear Waves
  • Topics in Applied Mathematics
  • Further Mathematical Finance
  • Methods in Partial Differential Equations

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.


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 F3DG.

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 A*, A level Physics A* and A in one further subject (which can include Further Mathematics) OR A level Mathematics A*, Further Mathematics A*, Physics A
General Studies:
not accepted

International Baccalaureate Diploma

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


Only considered when combined with other Mathematics and Physics qualifications.

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

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:

At Birmingham, you will you benefit from our national and internationally leading expertise in a broad range of physics and mathematics 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 or mathematics researchers. You will also learn through tutorials, examples classes and guided study. 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 and project reports. There is a strong emphasis on project work in the final year of your degree course.

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 of our Physicists 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. Our Mathematicians are experts in areas such as Mathematical Biology, Nonlinear Systems, Geometry and Topology, to name a few. As well as being world-renowned for their research, our academics are passionate about passing on their knowledge and expertise.

Contact Hours

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

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