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Physics courses

Are you fascinated by how the universe works or the structure of materials? Physics is the study of the nature and properties of matter and energy from the tiny sub-atomic particle to vast galaxies and has applications in cutting-edge technology such as medical imaging and laser communication systems. You will need a good aptitude for both physics and maths. Typical graduate careers are academic or industrial research, product development and scientific consultancy.

Studying physics at university

Example course modules

  • Laboratory physics
  • Contemporary physics
  • Mathematical techniques
  • Quantum physics
  • Newtonian and relativistic mechanics
  • Fabric of physics
  • Plasma and fluids
  • Special and general relativity
  • Analysing the nanoscale and magnetism
  • Stellar physics

Teaching hours / week

Average for this subject


Average for all subjects

The time you'll spend in lectures and seminars each week will vary from university to university, so use this as a guide.

More on studying and contact hours at uni

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 27%
    Male : 73%
  • Mature : 10%
    School leaver : 90%
  • Full-time : 94%
    Part-time : 6%

What students say about physics

What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • Maths
  • Physics

Useful to have

  • Chemistry
  • Further maths

Application checklist

Here's a guide to what to expect from the application process - also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  • January application
  • October application
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Entry test
  • Work experience
  • Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We'll help you past that writer's block!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
Although the subject has seen a bit of resurgence in recent years, the UK is still felt to be short of physics graduates, and in particular physicists training as teachers. If you want a career in physics research – in all sorts of areas, from atmospheric physics to lasers - you'll probably need to take a doctorate, and so have a think about where you would like to do that and how you might fund it (the government funds many physics doctorates, so you might not find it as hard as you think). With that in mind, it's not surprising that nearly a quarter of physics graduates go on to take doctorates when they finish their degree. Physics is highly regarded and surprisingly versatile, which is why physics graduates who decide not to stay in education are more likely to go into well-paid jobs in the finance industry than they are to go into science. IT and engineering – also commanding decent salaries - are other popular industries for physics graduates.
Professional and accrediting bodies:

Six months after graduating

Typical graduate job areas
  • Information technology and telecommunications professionals

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • Medical physicist
  • Instrumentation designer
  • Metallurgist

Other real-life job examples

  • Software developer
  • Market researcher
  • Acoustic engineer

What employers like about this subject

Students on a physics degree will gain subject-specific skills including knowledge of specific physics topics, such as electromagnetism and quantum and classical mechanics. Transferable skills you’ll develop include data investigation, high-level numeracy and good research skills. Physics graduates get jobs across the economy, and are in demand from employers as diverse as banking, health, IT, defence, the electronics industry and education. If you’re aiming for a career in research, you will usually need to take a postgraduate qualification (probably a Doctorate) after your first degree.