MPhys Physics with Astrophysics

Duration4 Years
Typical offerA*AA-AAB; IB: 38-34
LocationTaught in Exeter Streatham (Exeter)


The MPhys Physics with Astrophysics programme will give you the opportunity to learn the core of mainstream physics, but also gain a balanced understanding of modern astrophysics, from planets and stars to galaxies and cosmology.

You will apply the fundamental laws of physics to some of the most remarkable environments in the universe. Observational astrophysics is taught using our undergraduate teaching observatory.

The extended MPhys research projects are normally based on data from world-class ground and space-based facilities and state-of-the-art computational codes for theoretical astrophysics.

The four-year MPhys degrees take you further and prepare you for a physics-based career, including research and development. All our programmes can lead naturally on to postgraduate study either in research or towards a more specialised qualification such as an MSc.

For me, Exeter brought three main things to the table: a beautiful scenic city and campus; a warm and intelligent set of academics; and a key research element within my undergraduate degree.

As someone doing a subject which can involve high stress levels at points, it was important to me to be able to step outside of the work physically and mentally. The nice views and close proximity to the beach (about 30 minutes on the train) made me feel that I would be able to relax easily here.

The community here is very good, and I believe it is highly important to have a friendly atmosphere to learn in. The lecturers are highly approachable, and I definitely felt this when I visited the University before choosing to come here.

The research project is perhaps something that is more specific to my degree.  The four-year integrated Masters degrees require the student to work on a Masters project for roughly one year. In other institutions this normally results in an extremely project heavy fourth year, something I wasn’t attracted to. However, here at Exeter, the Masters project is spread over two years. This allows students to study relevant and applicable modules alongside the project, with the added freedom allowing the project to function almost as a mini-PhD. This was a massive draw for me.

Benjamin Woods, MPhys Physics. Read Benjamin's profile

Programme structure

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Year 1

During year one of your degree programme you will develop your comprehension of physics and become familiar with a variety of basic mathematical tools. The concepts and phenomena you’ll meet are many and varied, but they are all united by the underlying principles of physics.

In a typical week in the first year you will spend 18 hours in a formal teaching environment and will be expected to spend a further 18 hours in independent study. You’ll have 10 lectures in physics, two lectures in mathematics, one tutorial and spend a day in the teaching laboratory. Every week there is a problem-solving class which lasts approximately two hours. Time in private study is spent developing the lecture material, tackling assigned problems, doing tutorial work and writing up reports on experiments.

Compulsory modules

PHY1021Vector Mechanics 15
PHY1022Introduction to Astrophysics 15
PHY1025Mathematics Skills 15
PHY1027Practical Physics I 15
PHY1029IT and Astrophysics Skills 15
PHY1023Waves and Optics 15
PHY1024Properties of Matter 15
PHY1026Mathematics for Physicists 15

Year 2

Year two will provide you with a firm foundation of physics, and the principles which constitute the framework of the subject. In addition, the use of mathematics gives these principles a precise form and provides physics with the ability to make detailed quantitative predictions. This has proved important not only in providing verifiable tests of the principles but also in developing new technologies.

The core of our current knowledge is centred on three important areas: Quantum Mechanics, Electromagnetism and Statistical Physics. These three cornerstones are intellectually demanding, but they provide the core of most of physics and of our understanding of the evolution of our universe. The other modules in second and subsequent years draw in part on your knowledge of this core.

Compulsory modules

PHY2021Electromagnetism I 15
PHY2022Quantum Mechanics I 15
PHY2027Scientific Programming in C 15
PHY2025Mathematics with Physical Applications 15
PHY2026Practical Physics II 15
PHY2023Thermal Physics 15
PHY2024Condensed Matter I 15
PHY2030Observing the Universe 15

Year 3

Years three and four of the programme allow you to apply the core principles in a number of important broad areas like nuclear and high-energy particle physics, solid state physics and the technologically important communications and devices areas. Other modules illustrate how the principles can be applied in greater depth in a particular area, getting closer to the frontier of the subject.

BSc projects and the extended MPhys research projects are normally based on data from world-class ground and spacebased facilities and/or state of the art computational codes for theoretical astrophysics.

Compulsory modules

PHY3051Electromagnetism II 15
PHY3063Stars 15
PHY3122Project and Dissertation 30
PHY3053General Problems 15
PHY3052Nuclear and High Energy Particle Physics 15
PHY3066Galaxies and High Energy Astrophysics 15
PHYM001Statistical Physics 15

Year 4

The four-year MPhys programmes are designed primarily for those aiming for a career which uses Physics directly. After four years your level of knowledge will be nearer to that of students from continental Europe. For the MPhys there is a major project element, carried out in a research group, that spans over the final two years.

Compulsory modules

PHYM002Quantum Mechanics II 15
PHYM012Solar and Extra-Solar Planets and Their Atmospheres 15
PHYM009Project and Dissertation 45
PHYM006Relativity and Cosmology 15
PHYM003Condensed Matter II 15

Optional modules

Physics Modules S4B
Select 15 credits from:
PHYM013Quantum Many-Body Theory15
PHYM004Plasmonics, Spintronics and Electromagnetic Metamaterials15
PHYM007Ultrafast Physics15
PHYM005Independent Study15
PHYM008Physical Methods in Biology and Medicine15
Physics Modules S4C
Select 15 credits from:
PHY3061The Biophysics of Cells and Tissues15
PHY3065Quantum Optics and Photonics15
PHY3062Methods of Theoretical Physics15
PHY3064Nanostructures and Graphene Science15
PHY3067Energy and the Environment15
PHY3068Principles of Theoretical Physics15

Entry requirements 2016

Typical offer

A*AA-AAB; IB: 38-34

Required subjects

At least one grade A and a grade B in GCE AL Maths and Physics; at least one HL6 and one HL5 in IB Maths and Physics.
GCE AL Maths, Pure Maths or Further Maths are all acceptable Maths subjects.
Applicants may offer Physics, Maths and Further Maths.
Applicants offering non-standard qualifications (for example the Access to Higher Education Diploma or Open University credits) may need to pass an A level style mathematics test to demonstrate ability. This test will be undertaken as part of an interview.

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements and may be interested in our Foundation programmes.

Further information

Please read the important information about our Typical offer.

For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.

Learning and teaching

Our MPhys Physics and Astrophysics programme involves a combination of lectures, tutorials and interactive learning. Projects provide a link with the world of research and are important not only in terms of the programme but in providing evidence to employers of your achievement. Small-group tutorials form the core of our academic and personal support. Meeting every week during full term, they provide an opportunity for two-way communication as well as for assignments to be set, marked and discussed. As well as working with fellow students, you will get to know the academic staff and feel part of the department.

In a typical week in the first year you will spend 18 hours in a formal teaching environment and will be expected to spend a further 18 hours in independent study. You’ll have 10 lectures in physics, two lectures in mathematics, one tutorial and spend a day in the teaching laboratory. Every week there is a problem-solving class which lasts approximately two hours. Time in private study is spent developing the lecture material, tackling assigned problems, doing tutorial work and writing up reports on experiments. 

Learning facilities

Our undergraduate students have access to many of the department’s research facilities , including a research-standard astronomical telescope located on the roof of our building, a state-of-the-art nanophotonics fabrication facility, a whole-body MRI scanner and high-speed computing systems. In addition, our undergraduate laboratories have recently been completely refurbished, and we have a computer suite available for independent study and completion of written reports.

We’re actively engaged in introducing new methods of learning and teaching, including increasing use of interactive computer-based approaches to learning through our virtual learning environment (ELE), where the details of all modules are stored in an easily navigable website. Students can access detailed information about modules and learning outcomes and interact through activities such as the discussion forums.

Learning from experts

We believe every student benefits from being part of a research-led culture and being taught by experts – you will discuss the very latest ideas in classes and tutorials and become actively involved in research yourself. Find out more about our academic teaching staff in the Staff Profiles pages. Here you can read about their areas of research, their publications, which modules they teach and about their external professional responsibilities.

Academic support

All students have a Personal Tutor who is available for advice and support, both academic and pastoral, throughout their studies. Our system of small-group tutorials was highly praised by the QAA. Meeting every week during full term, they provide an opportunity for two-way communication as well as for assignments to be set, marked and discussed. Weekly problem classes for both mathematics and physics courses provide further opportunities for academic support.


Modules are assessed by a combination of continuous assessment, practical exercises, project work, report writing, presentations and examination. You must pass your first year assessment in order to progress to the second year, but the results do not count towards your degree classification. Written examinations are held in January and June. For some modules, coursework also contributes to the assessment of the module.

I chose the University of Exeter because the staff I met always seemed to value me as an individual. They made a noticeable effort to remember me and to fit things around my interests and what I wanted.

The department have been really encouraging and helpful - they provide loads of opportunities to develop you as a person and not just a physicist. Some of the lecturers are really outstanding and have given me an interest into fields I’d have never thought I’d have enjoyed as much before I came to university.

Bethan Cornell, MPhys Physics with Professional Experience.


Employability fairs

Our MPhys Physics with Astrophysics programme will develop your skills in a variety of technical areas such as practical laboratory work, problem solving using advanced mathematical techniques, research and project work.

You will also acquire many more generic skills such as IT skills, project management, communication and the ability to manage your own time.

You will find that a Physics degree from Exeter is recognised and respected by employers and employment prospects for physics graduates are excellent. A recent study by the Institute of Physics showed that the physics-based industries in the UK are key growth sectors and that they are increasing their share of the global market.

The largest proportion of our graduates enters science-based industries in positions involving research and development, production and management. Other careers include scientific work in government establishments (eg, QinetiQ or Harwell Laboratories), hospital physics in the NHS and technical management in broadcasting and the communications sector. Some students work in high-tech start-up companies. For those wishing to specialise in research, a period of further training for an MPhil or PhD qualification is important.

Some physics graduates wish to teach and a Postgraduate Certificate of Education is the starting point into a profession where physicists are in great demand. A number of graduates decide to use their analytical and logical skills in careers in finance, banking or commercial management.

Physics is such a desirable subject for employers; you have the pick of any career you want to go into – which makes deciding on one very difficult!

I love the subject though, and really want to keep learning about it. I’ve been considering teaching, but I’m thinking of a PhD after my degree as I’ve really enjoyed the research module so far (where you carry out research in a small team as part of a research group, over the final two years of your Masters degree), I love the ethos of academia (where the researchers aren’t driven by money, they’re motivated by a desire to learn and solve problems!) and I love being part of the University.

I worked in a company for a few years before this degree, and the world of academia is so refreshingly unique in comparison to ‘the real world’; you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a subject, to be surrounded by a huge variety of interesting people, and take part in so many societies and activities, I don’t want to lose that!

Natalie Whitehead, MPhys Physics. Read Natalie's profile

Contact us

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Phone: +44 (0)1392 725349

Website: Visit the Physics website

How to apply Get a prospectus Visit subject website 2015 degrees

Meet our ambassadors

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Student Ambassadors deliver talks and presentations at Open Days and Offer-Holder Visit Days on campus.

Student journal and conference

JUST was set up in 2012 allowing students to publish and disseminate their work through a formal, peer-reviewed process.

All our MPhys and Single Honours BSc degrees are accredited by the Institute of Physics. Accredited MPhys degrees fully satisfy the educational requirements of the Chartered Physicist (CPhys) professional qualification.

View our Physics and Astronomy brochure

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