|Discipline||Physics and Astronomy|
Web: Enquire online
A level: A*AA-AAB
- Our Physics with Astrophysics programmes focus on the core of mainstream physics, but also provide a balanced understanding of modern observational and theoretical astrophysics, from planets and stars to galaxies and cosmology
- The PhD-style MPhys research projects are often based on data from world-class ground and space-based facilities and state-of-the-art computational codes for theoretical astrophysics
- MPhys degrees take you further and give you a great opportunity to undertake research in our world-leading astrophysics group
- Learn within a supportive community characterised by genuine student-staff relationships and small tutorial groups, typically made up of five students
- Opportunity to join a close-knit student society with great social events throughout the year
- Benefit from access to advanced research facilities including clean-rooms, a helium liquefier, a water tank, amplified ultra-fast laser systems, and a suite of instruments for imaging biological materials
Top 15 in the UK for Physics and Astronomy
15th in the The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023
Extensive facilities in our dedicated building including clean-rooms, helium liquefier, water tanks, amplified ultra-fast laser systems, imaging suite, observatory and computer labs.
Strong community characterised by genuine student-staff relationships and small tutorial groups, typically made up of 5 students
Entry requirements (typical offer)
|Qualification||Typical offer||Required subjects|
|A-Level||A*AA-AAB||At least grade A in GCE AL Mathematicss 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.|
|IB||38/766 – 34/665||HL 6 and HL 5 in Mathematics (Analysis and Approaches) and Physics|
|BTEC||D*DD-DDD||Applicants studying a BTEC Extended Diploma are also required to achieve Grades A and B in A Level Mathematics and Physics|
|GCSE||4 or C||Grade 4/C in GCSE English language|
|Access to HE||30 L3 credits at Distinction Grade and 15 L3 credits Merit Grade||15 L3 credits at Distinction Grade and 15 L3 credits at Distinction Grade in acceptable Mathematics and Physics subject areas. An additional Maths Test may be required.|
Specific subject requirements must still be achieved where stated above. Find out more about contextual offers.
|Other UK, EU and International equivalences|
|English language requirements||
International students need to show they have the required level of English language to study this course. The required test scores for this course fall under Profile B. Please visit our English language requirements page to view the required test scores and equivalencies from your country.
NB General Studies is not included in any offer.
Grades advertised on each programme webpage are the typical level at which our offers are made and provide information on any specific subjects an applicant will need to have studied in order to be considered for a place on the programme. However, if we receive a large number of applications for the programme we may not be able to make an offer to all those who are predicted to achieve/have achieved grades which are in line with our typical offer. For more information on how applications are assessed and when decisions are released, please see: After you apply
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 one 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|
|Scientific Programming in Python||PHY1031|
|Properties of Matter||PHY1024|
|Waves and Optics||PHY1023|
Year two 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|
|Scientific Programming in C||PHY2027|
|Observing the Universe||PHY2030|
The final two years of this 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 years of the programme also involve substantial project work. As part of the MPhys programme, you’ll be ‘adopted’ into one of our research groups, working in a small group (typically three or four, but with individual roles), to undertake a project for at least one academic year. You will select your preferred project from a list of short research proposals freshly written by the academics each year. The projects are original and open-ended, i.e., they each focus on a previously unstudied piece of physics. You will meet with your supervisor (a professor or lecturer) once a week to discuss progress and future work. You are also encouraged to attend research seminars from visiting speakers, attend the weekly group meetings, and integrate and socialise with the PhD students and researchers.
Year 3: compulsory modules
Nuclear and High Energy Particle Physics
Quantum Mechanics II
Stars from Birth to Death
|Galaxies and High Energy Astrophysics||PHY3066|
or PHY3147 (BSc)
Year 4: compulsory modules
|Condensed Matter II||PHYM003|
|Project||PHYM009 or PHYM010|
|Relativity and Cosmology||PHYM006|
|Solar and Extra-Solar Planets and Their Atmospheres||PHYM012|
Year 4: optional modules
|Computational Physics and Modelling||PHYM004|
|Energy and the Environment||PHY3067|
|Methods of Theoretical Physics||PHY3062|
|Nanostructures & Graphene Physics||PHY3064|
|Physical Methods in Biology and Medicine||PHYM008|
|Principles of Theoretical Physics||PHY3068|
|Quantum Many-Body Theory||PHYM013|
|Quantum Optics & Photonics||PHYM015|
|The Biophysics of Cells and Tissues||PHY3061|
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.
Understanding the Universe from the top academics was extremely appealing. I attended an Open Day and fell in love with the campus. The warm and welcoming atmosphere made me feel I could thrive here.
The student community and array of societies has made my time in Exeter fantastic. You feel part of the student body and I have met some amazing people.
The programming and computational modules have given me IT skills and experimental modules have developed my analytical skills which have helped me secure a graduate data analytics job for a media company in London.
Studying MSc Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Exeter
Tuition fees for 2023 entry
UK students: £9,250 per year
International students: £27,000 per year
The University of Exeter has over £2.5 million in scholarships available for students applying to study with us in 2023 - including our Global Excellence Scholarships* for international fee paying students and financial support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, lower income households and other under-represented groups to help them access, succeed and progress through higher education.
* Terms and conditions apply. See online for details.
Learning and teaching
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.
Lectures, Seminars and Tutorial
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.
A research and practice led 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.
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.
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 degree 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.
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.
The broad-based skills acquired during your degree will give you an excellent grounding for a wide variety of careers, not only those related to Physics but also in wider fields. Examples of roles recent graduates are now working as include:
- Academic Researcher
- Actuary Astonomer
- Chartered and Certified Accountant
- Cyber Security Professional
- Financial Accounts Manager
- IT Business Analyst and Systems Architect
- Software Developer