BSc (Hons) Physics with a Foundation Year

UCAS code Typical offer Length
F304 (See full entry requirements) 4 years full-time
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Students in the lab

Physics studies the fundamental forces of the Universe and the nature of waves, particles, and the structure of matter. Read more about studying a Physics degree at York.

Course overview

The Foundation Year course offers an opportunity for those who have potential, but who do not possess appropriate qualifications, to develop the skills needed to progress to completing one of our degree programmes. The course is aimed at two main groups of people:

  • Mature students (Over the age of 21) seeking a change in career
  • Students obtaining A levels qualifications who have not studied Physics and/or Mathematics to A level standard. However this is not a refresher course for those with poor marks in Physics and Maths.

Further information on our entry requirements for the course can be found under the Applying tab.

"The Department is a wonderful place to study. The academics are very friendly and approachable. The student intake is small compared to other universities so lectures can get to know you on a first name basis rather than you just being another nameless face in the crowd."
Paul, Foundation Year Student

The course syllabus is based on modified versions of A level material in Mathematics and Physics. The course also includes a practical physics element in which students learn in well-equipped laboratories. Covering University entry level content in three terms is a demanding task. The course numbers therefore, are very restricted, permitting teaching in small groups with considerable personal support. Following successful completion, students may transfer to the first year of any of our Physics degrees.

Foundation Year Bursary

The University offers a number of bursaries for UK and EU students to help with tuition fees and living expenses. The Foundation Year Bursary is a means tested fee wavier for Foundation Year students which is dependant on household income. For further information please visit the York scholarships and bursaries page.

Our degree programmes are offered as a four year Integrated Masters course (MPhys) or three year Bachelors course (BSc) and can be studied with an optional Year Abroad.

  Institute of Physics Logo
All our degree programmes are accredited by the Institute of Physics. Accredited degrees give a solid grounding in core physics and can lead to professional awards such as Chartered Physicist.

Course content

What you'll study


Term MathsPhysics

Courses in the Autumn term assume virtually no previous knowledge of A level Maths and Physics

  • Fundamentals of Arithmetic Algebra, Geometry
  • Linear and Quadratic Equations
  • Basic Statistics
  • Simple Trigonometry
  • Introduction to Calculus
  • Fundamentals of Mechanics
  • Properties of Matter
  • Heat and Temperature
  • Electricity and Magnetism
Courses in the Spring term build on the fundamentals established in the first term and move into work of Advanced Level standard
  • Matrix Algebra
  • Differential Calculus
  • Complex Numbers
  • Integral Calculus
  • Vectors
  • Differential Equations
  • Trigonometric Identities
  • Mechanics 
  • Electricity
  • Electromagnetism
  • Optics
Courses in the Summer term seek to prepare students to the required entry level knowledge in Mathematics and Physics suitable for our Physics degree programmes
  • Complex numbers
  • Series Expansions
  • Vectors
  • Integral Calculus
  • Differential Equations
  • Matrix Algebra
  • Waves 
  • Electro-Statics
  • AC Circuits
  • Atomic Physics
  • Gravitation

 If an overall pass is acheived at the end of the year students will then automatically progress onto the first year of any of the Physics degree programmes we offer.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct;
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work;
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts;
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.


How you'll be taught

Dr Roddy Vann Lecture Presentation


We regularly achieve high student satisfaction and maintained excellence in our teaching quality achieving the maximum of 24/24 in our most recent Teaching Quality Assurance assessment.

We use a variety of different teaching methods including lectures, laboratory work, tutorials, problem classes and workshops. In addition students will learn via various group and individual project work.

“Studying Physics at York is an experience like no other, the community here between not only student, but lecturers also is unrivalled.” Sammy, 2nd Year Student 

Alongside this all students meet regularly with an academic supervisor who will offer guidance and support throughout your degree and help develop your physics problem solving skills. This fosters excellent staff-student rapport and ensures an extremely friendly and supportive atmosphere for you. Our regular supervision meetings, small group tutorials and our ‘open door’ policy for approaching our academic staff are distinctive in our teaching approach and enable students to share their insights and develop a deeper understand of their subject.

“The department’s open door policy is fantastic. If you ever get stuck on any aspect of anything, they are always there to help you.” Kyle, 4th Year Student 

Find out more


How you'll be assessed

Weekly Problem Question Submission

We use a wide range of assessment formats during the degree to ensure that students develop valuable transferable skills. We balance various types of assessment to develop and test your different strengths. Our assessments include:

  • Examinations
  • Extended Assignments
  • Weekly Problems
  • Formal Reports
  • Practical Laboratory Work
  • Presentations
  • Practical Research Methods

Our teaching is designed to prepare you for the assessment. You will also have tutorials and problem classes to help you revise and ask any question you might have.

We give students feedback on work completed in a variety of ways. You will receive both written and verbal feedback to help you improve and develop your work. In addition your will meet regularly with your academic supervisor who will offer guidance and support throughout your degree and help develop your physics problem solving skills.

Assessment Adjustments

We can make appropriate adjustments to assessment procedures for students with disabilities. See the University's disability support pages for further details.

Find out more


Careers and employability

Physics Student Graduation, Lake view

Physics graduates are highly sought after by employers across a range of disciplines. A high proportion of graduates go on to careers that use their knowledge and expertise in physics. However as physics is so central in the span of scientific subjects physicists are readily employed in other disciplines such as computing, electronics, chemistry and mathematics.

The department is committed to developing and supporting our students' career development and employability which is embedded within our core teaching. This includes activities such as:

  • Application Writing
  • Development of an Employability Plan and tutorial review sessions
  • Preparing your next career step workshops
  • Careers Fairs
  • Enhancing your employability and careers options workshops
  • Physics careers day
  • Career development activities
  • Interview training
  • Leadership and teamwork

What do York Graduates do?
Over 80% of our graduates are in work or further study within six months of graduating earning an average salary of £25,000. For those who progress into further academic study 39% of our students have chosen to specialise in a particular field via a postgraduate qualification such as MSc in Fusion energy or a PhD.

Find out more


How to apply

All applications to undergraduate degree courses at York are made via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). The application system opens mid-September with guides on how to apply through UCAS available online. 

We welcome all enquiries from prospective undergraduates and are happy to answer any queries that you may have about our courses.

Entry Qualifications

The Foundation Year course is designed for mature students seeking a career change or for students who have been unable to study Physics and/or Maths to A level standard. Due to the very individual background of education and work experience, applications are considered on an individual basis.

Typically, applicants are required to demonstrate they have achieved the equivalent of A level standard of study and have demonstrated the ability to complete the course-work load equivalent to simultaneously taking three A levels. All offers are determined on an individual basis after completing a successful academic interview with the department. Places on the Foundation Year are limited and we invite students to contact us if they would like to query applicable qualifications for entry onto the course.

Interview Days

All applicants are required to complete an interview day with the department before their application is progressed to the offer stage. Our decision about whether to invite applicants to interview is based on information on the UCAS form, including your personal statement, reference, and academic grades or predictions. Upon completion of a successful academic interview an offer will be determined taking into account both feedback gathered at interview and information from your UCAS form.

Entry requirements

English Language Requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English should be able to show evidence of their English language ability.

We accept the following English language qualifications:

  • IELTS: 6.0 overall (minimum of 6.0 in each section)
  • Pearson: 55 overall (minimum of 55 in each section)
  • GCSE English Language: grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English: grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English: grade A

For some European countries, the English language requirement may be fulfilled by achieving a satisfactory English grade in the relevant country's state or school examinations. Please contact us for information about the specific requirements for your own country.

Further detailed information is available on the University’s English Language Requirements.

Any questions?

If you have any enquiries concerning undergraduate admissions, please contact

Foundation Year Admissions Tutor,
Dr. Christopher Murphy:

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