BSc Mathematics and Physics

UCAS code FG31
Duration 3 Years
Typical offer AAA–AAB; IB: 36–34; BTEC: DDD
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Physics
Location Taught in Exeter Streatham (Exeter)


Physics and Astronomy may be studied in Exeter together with Mathematics as part of a 3 year BSc Mathematics and Physics combined honours degree programme.  The programme is designed so that there are no differences in the workload in comparison to the Single Honours degrees, and is particularly popular amongst those who want to pursue a PhD, or go into teaching.  It is also normally possible to transfer to Single Honours Mathematics, or Single Honours Physics programmes during the first year of study (subject to capacity and academic performance).

BSc Mathematics and Physics allows you to explore the interplay between the two disciplines, learning to understand the ways in which they co-exist and complement each other. You will benefit from the flexibility and freedom to choose from a wide range of optional modules, enabling you to specialise if desired. Options include many of the physics modules available to Single Honours students, but also mathematics courses with great relevance to physicists, such as pure mathematics: Combinatorics, Galois Theory and Number Theory, and applied options like: Mathematics of Climate Change, Cryptography, and Mathematical Biology and Ecology. Just like in physics, all academic staff in mathematics are active, internationally recognised researchers across a wide range of applied, pure and theoretical topics.

An overview of our departments, together with more information about alternative programmes are also available: Physics and Astronomy, Mathematics.

I loved the method of teaching at Exeter - with many contact hours and lots of assignments, it forces you to keep on top of the content. Also, we meet with our tutors for an hour each week, which really makes you feel that the department cares about you succeeding in your studies and future career.

Doing a degree in maths and physics doesn't limit your options when it comes to future careers and it provides you with the opportunity to develop the many skills that employers are looking for, and so it gives you the chance to choose a career that you would enjoy.

Julia James, BSc Mathematics and Physics.

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

In Year 1, the concepts and phenomena you’ll meet are many and varied!  You will develop your understanding of physics and will be introduced you to all of the main areas of university-level mathematics, consolidating and building on the material you will have learned at school or college.  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. The contact time is comprised of lectures in physics, with support from weekly problems classes and small group tutorials; lectures, seminars and tutorials in mathematics modules; and sessions in the physics teaching laboratory and the IT suite.

Year 2

Year 2 provides a firm foundation in mathematics and physics, and the principles that constitute the framework of the two subjects.  In physics, you will take core modules in Electromagnetism and Quantum Mechanics, while you will explore the use of mathematics to give these principles a precise form.  The Linear Algebra module is also core, and will cover concepts and techniques that are widely used in many areas of mathematics.  Optional modules give you the opportunity to learn about more specialised topics, and will inform your third year of study. 

Year 3

The third and final year of this programme allows you to apply the core principles of maths and physics in a broad range of important areas. You will take a core module in Nuclear Physics and an advanced Electromagnetism course, as well as undertaking an extended (open-ended) project in our newly refurbished third year teaching lab.  You also you have the opportunity to take a very wide range of modules, ranging from to Pure Maths (e.g. Combinatorics) to Applied Maths (e.g. Cryptography and the Mathematics of Climate Change), and including topics such as Fluid Dynamics, Theoretical Physics, Biophysics and Astrophysics.

Entry requirements 2020

Typical offer


Places are not normally offered to applicants who do not take part in an interview.

Required subjects

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/or Analysis and Approaches) and Physics are required for all programmes.

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 non-standard qualifications (for example the Access to Higher Education Diploma or Open University credits) may need to pass an AL-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

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:

International students

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:

Contextual offers

At the University of Exeter we are committed to the idea that all students who have the potential to benefit from higher education have the opportunity to do so. We believe that fair access to higher education is a fundamental enabler for social mobility, improving life opportunities and outcomes for individual students, while benefiting the economy and society as a whole.

Educational context can affect your grades, and we take this into account in order to recognise your potential. If you meet certain criteria, we may make you a lower offer than our typical entry requirements. Find out more about contextual offers.

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.

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.

Mathematics and Physics Interview days

Those applicants who meet our minimum entry requirements for this programme will be invited to visit the department between November and March. The visit will include tours and presentations relating to our research activity and a short academic interview 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.   However, if visiting the campus is difficult for you please contact us when you receive your invitation letter to discuss alternative arrangements.

"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.

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, and you will have the opportunity to learn about our pioneering research in Maths and Physics.

We will fully support you as a student in a friendly environment: you will receive individual attention and feedback throughout your programme. Teaching is undertaken in a variety of ways, with lecturing the primary method. For example, mathematics modules involve three one-hour lectures per week, and then weekly tutorial classes for each module and example classes every fortnight. Further support is available at lunchtime mathematics surgeries run by postgraduate students. Working through examples and solving problems is a vital part of learning mathematics so coursework is set in each module. Weekly tutorials and problems classes form the core of our academic support in Physics, complementing the physics lecture courses that you are attending. You will meet with your tutor (a professor or lecturer) 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. 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.

Experimental skills are acquired in the Physics laboratories and astronomical observatory, and here you are introduced to a wide range of apparatus and techniques. Training in mathematical and theoretical techniques are provided by our methods and computational modules. By the time you reach the start of their 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 are 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. You 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 to aid your revision. In a 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.

Assessment for all degrees is through a combination of examinations, tests and coursework. Examinations are the more important part of the process, but the assessed coursework and tests will help you to work steadily throughout your degree, while monitoring your own progress. Written examinations are held in January and May. You must pass your first year assessment in order to progress to the second year, but the results do 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.


Employability fairs

Exeter has an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and a strong employment record. Our Mathematics and Physics graduates excel in specialist mathematical and physical science fields, whilst gaining many additional skills desirable to potential employers. 

We have excellent links with employers and support students to consider their careers from an early stage. Our Employability Officer is active in developing aspects of our programmes and services that improve the employability of our students. We also have a dedicated Careers Consultant who provides specific services such as workshops tailored to careers in mathematics and physics, and support in matters such as applications and job interview skills. The Career Zone runs several fairs throughout the year and these have been particularly successful in putting major UK employers in touch with Exeter students. Relevant employers visit the department from the first year to meet with students, with the aim of helping them to develop their career ideas at an early enough stage to help with module choices and placement decisions. 

Each year a number of our graduating students choose to undertake further study and there is a fast track application process for Exeter students to our postgraduate programmes. Of those choosing the postgraduate route, around half choose to remain at Exeter, which reflects well on their satisfaction with the University and the range of courses available. A wide range of employers from industries as diverse as banking, insurance, medical, transport, power generation, software, and the armed forces, know the department as a provider of excellent graduates who are able to apply their problem solving and analytical skills in the real world. 

For further information about what the careers service offers, please see

Additionally, visit our Mathematics Employability and our Physics Employability webpages to find out more.


  • Met Office
  • NHS
  • British Gas
  • Novia Financial PLC
  • DSTL
  • Randall & Payne LLP
  • Reddie & Grose LLP
  • Rolls Royce
  • BMI
  • Frazer-Nash Consultancy
  • IMS Research
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Science and Technology Facilities Research Council
  • Renshaw Plc
  • AWE
  • Thales
  • IBM
  • KPMG
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • QinetiQ


  • Geophysicist
  • Business Analyst
  • Medical Physicist
  • Corporate Actuarial Analyst
  • IT Security Officer
  • Bond Processor
  • Research Scientist
  • Field Support Engineer
  • Financial Modeller/Analyst
  • Technical Consultant
  • Commercial Analyst
  • Complex Energy Products Analyst
  • Sports Data Analyst
  • IT Consultant
  • Trainee Chartered Accountant
  • Data Analyst
  • Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Software Developer

Examples of further study and research followed by our graduates are:

  • Msc Environmental Economics
  • PGCE Secondary Maths 
  • PhD Physics
  • PhD Biophysics Analysis
  • MSc Modern Applications of Mathematics
  • MSc Economics 
  • MRes Mathematics in the Living Environment
  • PGCE Secondary Science
  • MA Terrorism, Security and Society
  • MSc Computational Science and Modelling
  • MSc Water and Environmental Management
  • MSc Materials for Nuclear Fusion
  • MA Marine Engineering
  • MSc Machine Learning
  • MSc Theoretical Physics

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

Contact us

We invite potential applicants to visit our departments 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 (details below)

You can also register your interest now for upcoming Open Days.

Streatham Campus, Exeter

WebEnquire online
Phone: +44 (0)1392 725349


Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates on our research and events: @UoE_Physics

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