Our MPhys/BSc Physics programmes give you an excellent understanding of mainstream physics and develop your scientific intuition. While the first year is common for all students, these programmes allow you to have the widest variety of options to choose from and modules in other subjects, such as engineering or languages (termed ‘electives’), are also available to you.
Our BSc degrees are three-year programmes that give you a sound education in physics and lead on to a diverse range of careers. The four-year MPhys degrees take you further and give you a great opportunity to specialise in a research theme in which we excel, from astrophysics and quantum physics, through to electromagnetic and acoustic materials and biomedical physics. Normally students can transfer between any of the programmes during the first year. All our programmes can lead naturally on to PhD-level research or towards a more specialised qualification such as an MSc, and all are accredited by the Institute of Physics.
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.
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.
In Year 1 you will develop your understanding of physics and become familiar with a variety of basic mathematical tools. The concepts and phenomena you will meet are many and varied, but are united by the underlying principles of physics. In a typical week you will spend 15 hours in a formal teaching environment, and be expected to spend a further 20 hours in independent study. You will have four hours of lectures in physics, two in mathematics, one tutorial, six hours in the teaching laboratories and two hours in problem-solving classes.
|Introduction to Astrophysics||PHY1022|
|IT & Electronics||PHY1028|
|Properties of Matter||PHY1024|
|Waves and Optics||PHY1023|
Year 2 provides a firm foundation of physics, and the principles that constitute the framework of the subject. The use of mathematics gives these principles a precise form and provides physicists with the ability to make detailed quantitative predictions. This year focuses on four main cornerstones of physics: condensed matter, quantum mechanics, electromagnetism and thermodynamics. These provide the core of most of physics and of our understanding of the evolution of our universe. The other modules in your second and subsequent years draw in part on your knowledge of this core.
|Condensed Matter I||PHY2024|
Maths with Physical Applications
|Practical Physics II||PHY2026|
|Quantum Mechanics I||PHY2022|
|Analytical & Chaotic Mechanics||PHY2032|
|Lasers, Materials and Nanoscale Probes for Quantum Applications||PHY2034|
|Observing the Universe||PHY2030|
|Scientific Programming in C||PHY2027|
|The Physics of Living Systems||PHY2029|
* An ‘elective’ is an unspecified module that allows the student to broaden their education by taking a module from another discipline e.g., philosophy, or a foreign language
Professional Placement / Study Abroad
If you choose the ‘with Professional Placement’ or 'with Study Abroad' variant of this degree, your placement will take place in your third year. You will then take the modules listed below in your fourth year of study.
Year 3 of the programme allows you to apply the core principles in a broad range of important areas, such as Nuclear and High-Energy Particle Physics and Statistical Physics, plus advanced electromagnetism, quantum physics and condensed matter physics. There are numerous options in theoretical physics for you to choose such as Quantum Many Body Theory, and Relativity and Cosmology. You can also choose to study technologically-important areas such as Quantum Optics and Photonics, and Physical Methods in Biology and Medicine, and active research areas such as Galaxies and High Energy Astrophysics, and Nanostructures and Graphene Science. (Options are dependent on the programme of study).
The final year of the programme also involves substantial project work. On the BSc programme you will undertake extended experiments utilising a suite of equipment that includes an atomic force microscope, an infra-red spectrometer, and our own observatory and radio telescope. You also have the opportunity to undertake team-based work tackling a real-world problem proposed by local business or industry.
Nuclear and High Energy Particle Physics
or PHY3147 (BSc)
|Applying Physics (BSc Project)||PHY3150|
|Energy and the Environment||PHY3067|
|Galaxies and High Energy Astrophysics||PHY3066|
|Methods of Theoretical Physics||PHY3062|
|Nanostructures & Graphene Physics||PHY3064|
|Principles of Theoretical Physics||PHY3068|
|Stars from Birth to Death||PHY3070|
|The Biophysics of Cells and Tissues||PHY3061|
Entry requirements 2020
AAA–AAB; IB: 36–34; BTEC: DDD
Places are not normally offered to applicants who do not participate in an interview.
At least one grade A and a grade B in GCE AL Maths and Physics or 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, and applicants may offer Physics, Maths and Further Maths towards their offer.
Applicants studying a BTEC Extended Diploma will also require at least one grade A and a grade B in GCE AL Maths and Physics.
Applicants offering nonstandard 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 should check details of our English language requirements
If your academic qualifications or English language skills do not meet our entry requirements our INTO University of Exeter centre offers a range of courses to help you reach the required language and academic standards.
International Foundation programmes
Preparation for entry to Year 1 of an undergraduate degree:
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.
At this time in your life you face a set of really tough choices! Deciding where to study and what to study feels, and is, a pretty huge decision. Understanding and exploring the options before you is very important, but remember that what is most important is that you feel excited (even if a little scared) about the next step in your life. We have several options to study Physics at the University of Exeter, but transfer between the options is easy during the first year, aside from some capacity issues, such as having a limited number of places available on the Year Abroad and Professional Experience programmes. Therefore, you don't have to make the choice yet! If you want to come to Exeter, the exact programme you study during the 3 or 4 years you spend with us can be decided later.
Dr Nathan Mayne, Admissions Tutor.
"The way in which the interview was conducted was very good and I was made to feel very comfortable. It also gave me an insight into the excellent teaching quality from discussing interesting physics problems with a professor."
"The interview was wonderfully friendly; I felt quite relaxed as soon as I sat down. I felt like I learned something and it gave me an opportunity to show my enthusiasm for the subject."
"The interview was my personal highlight because it was above all else just fun to talk to another physics enthusiast."
Interview Day Applicants.
Physics and Astronomy interview days
All shortlisted applicants will be invited to visit the department between November and March. The interview will include tours and presentations relating to our research activity and a short period for discussion with a member of staff, during which details of programmes can be explained and any queries answered. All applications are considered on an individual basis and offers will be made shortly after an interview has taken place. Places are not normally offered to applicants who do not attend an interview. However, if visiting the campus is difficult for you please contact us when you receive your invitation letter to discuss alternative arrangements.
Learning and teaching
We believe that every student benefits from being part of a culture that is inspired by research and being taught by experts. Not only do we teach you about our pioneering research, we teach you how to undertake the research yourself. Experimental skills are acquired in the laboratories and astronomical observatory, and here you are introduced to a wide range of apparatus and techniques. Training in theoretical techniques is provided by our methods and computational modules. By the time you reach the start of your extended project work, you will have received the necessary preparation to undertake it with confidence in either experimental or theoretical topics, and these projects are tackled with great enthusiasm and energy.
We will fully support you as a student in a friendly environment: you will receive individual attention and feedback throughout your programme. Weekly tutorials form the core of our academic support, complementing all the modules and project work that you are taking. You will meet with your tutor (a professor or lecturer) in a small group with four or five others for one hour during every teaching week of your programme. These sessions are your opportunity to discuss any element of your academic studies. Assignments will also be set, discussed and marked – sometimes these will be on unfamiliar topics: we wish to encourage active discourse in physics as this is a good way of understanding the more subtle concepts and gaining confidence in your intuition. You will also have the opportunity to practice your oral presentation skills, and gain support with your professional development. In the final year of the MPhys programmes, your research-project supervisor is your tutor. Throughout your time in Exeter, your tutor will also be your first point of call for pastoral support and will advise about the availability of University services including wellbeing, disability and financial help.
Teaching is undertaken in a variety of ways, with lecturing the primary method. There are also weekly problem-solving classes in the first two years for both mathematics and physics modules. Physics at the University of Exeter is also 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 where the details of all modules are stored in an easily navigable website. Students can access detailed information about modules and learning outcomes, as well as sets of lecture slides/notes, example and problem-sheets, videos, and interact through activities such as the discussion forums. Video recordings of lectures are normally made available whenever possible to aid your revision.
There are also a number of services on campus where you can get advice and information, including the Students’ Guild Advice Unit. You can find further information about all the services in the University’s undergraduate prospectus or via the undergraduate home page.
Assessment in the first two years is a combination of continuous assessment and exams. About 65 per cent of the assessment in each of these years is by written examinations and short mid-term tests; the rest involves work for projects, laboratories, problems classes, and more. You must obtain a pass mark for your first year in order to proceed but your performance at this stage does not count towards your final degree classification.
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.
BSc Physics with Study Abroad
Why study abroad?
We strongly encourage you to consider spending a year studying abroad as part of your degree. We have agreements with universities across the globe, giving you a huge range of amazing and exciting locations to choose between.
Study abroad is available for our BSc and MPhys Physics programmes. Your time spent overseas will be recognised in your degree title, which will include the words ‘with Study Abroad’.
Does it count towards my degree?
Yes, during your time abroad you’ll cover 120 credits, the same as you would if you were studying in Exeter.
How do I apply?
You can apply directly to this programme through UCAS using the code at the top of this page. It is also possible to transfer on to the 'with Study Abroad’ programme variant at the end of your first year of BSc Physics.
What else do I need to know?
Our Study Abroad degrees are specifically structured to retain full professional accreditation. This is achieved by assessing the work you complete while abroad and by taking a credit-rated language module appropriate to your chosen study destination prior to travelling.
Assessment of all overseas modules takes place in English but some host destinations occasionally require presentations and a synopsis of work in their language, so a good knowledge of that language is essential.
Once registered as studying with your overseas host university you will receive primary support from them with full access to the facilities they provide to all students. You are required to maintain contact with the overseas coordinator and Student Services at Exeter through your Exeter email account and of course you have continuing access to all our facilities via your iExeter account.
The marks awarded to you by your host institution are subject to a moderation process at Exeter that ensures uniformity and fairness.
Employability skills are an integral part of the physics curriculum. The flexibility and adaptability of a well-trained physicist is appreciated by employers: they acknowledge the benefits of excellent problem solving skills, an educated scientific intuition, and the confidence to be able to grasp new concepts quickly.
Our programmes include:
- A two-day employability and graduate development workshop in year one
- A two-day communication skills course in year one
- Annual personal development planning exercises
- Training in the formulation and solution of problems
- Substantial amounts of practical and project work, the results of which must be presented and defended in various formats (written reports, posters, oral presentations)
- Working with others in projects and problem-solving classes
- IT skills training
- Mathematical skills training
- An opportunity to take a commercial and industrial experience module
In addition, the purpose of the extended project work in both the BSc and MPhys programmes is for you to develop research skills. You will learn to present and scientifically defend your work and ideas in a variety of ways. The experience and skills developed not only form a valuable basis for a research career, but are also known to be highly valued by employers.
The most academically-able graduates are normally strongly encouraged to apply for a fully-funded PhD studentship in physics or astrophysics. Visit the Physics postgraduate research degrees page for details, including of our Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials.
The largest proportion of our graduates enter science-based industries in positions involving research and development, production and management. Other careers include scientific work in government establishments (e.g., QinetiQ or Harwell Laboratories), hospital physics in the NHS, and technical management in broadcasting and the communications sector. Some work in high-tech start-up companies.
For further information about what the careers service at Exeter offers, please see the Career Zone website.
Examples of the destinations of our recent graduates:
- Met Office
- British Gas
- Novia Financial PLC
- Randall & Payne LLP
- Reddie & Grose LLP
- Rolls Royce
- Frazer-Nash Consultancy
- IMS Research
- Morgan Stanley
- Science and Technology Facilities Research Council
- Renshaw Plc
- First Great Western
- Medical Physicist
- Air Quality Scientist
- IT Security Officer
- Field Support Engineer
- Financial Modeller/Analyst
- Technical Consultant
- Commercial Analyst
- Complex Energy Products Analyst
- IT Consultant
- Trainee Chartered Accountant
- Data Analyst
- Trainee Patent Attorney
- Software Developer
Examples of further study and research followed by our graduates are:
- PhD Physics
- PhD Biophysics Analysis
- PGCE Secondary Science
- MA Terrorism, Security and Society
- MSc Water and Environmental Management
- MSc Materials for Nuclear Fusion
- MA Marine Engineering
- MSc Machine Learning
- MSc Theoretical Physics
- MA Astrophysics
- MSc Petroleum Engineering
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
BSc Physics with Professional Placement
Experience of working in your chosen field is a real advantage when entering the graduate job market. It’s also a great way to try out different jobs and to make contacts within companies you’re interested in working for.
What is a professional placement?
A full year’s work placement, undertaken as part of your course. Your degree takes an extra year to complete, and the words ‘with Professional Placement’ appear in your degree title for future employers to see. The placement takes place in your third year and usually lasts at least nine months.
Who is this for?
The ‘with Professional Placement’ option is available for our BSc and MPhys Physics degrees.
Does it count towards my degree?
Yes, it’s worth 120 credits.
How does it affect my tuition fee?
During this year you will pay a reduced tuition fee. In 2016/17 the fee was £1,850 (or 20 per cent of the maximum fee for that year). Visit the Tuition Fees page for more information.
How do I apply?
You can apply for this programme through UCAS using the code at the top of this page, or transfer onto this option at the end of your first year in BSc Physics.
Preparation and support
We will help you to prepare for your work placement from early in your studies. You will also be invited to attend workshops offering guidance and support such as ‘Making the most of your placement’ and ‘How to use your placement as an individual project’.
We invite potential applicants to visit the Department of Physics and Astronomy at any time. Please contact us in advance of your trip so that we can organise for the admissions tutor, or another member of staff and a student to meet you. When planning your trip, please be aware that in-year applicants are normally required to visit us to participate in an Interview Day.
You can also register your interest now for upcoming Open Days.
Meet our ambassadors
Undergraduate and Postgraduate Student Ambassadors deliver talks and presentations at Open Days and Offer-Holder Visit Days on campus.
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.