BSc (Hons) Theoretical Physics with a Year Abroad

UCAS code Typical offer Length
F347 AAA (See full entry requirements) 4 years full-time
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Theoretical Physics explores the world around us focusing on how mathematical and computational knowledge describes the structure of the field. Read more about studying Theoretical Physics at York.

Course overview

This degree programme allows you to acquire an excellent all-round knowledge of physics, with a special focus on the theoretical aspects of the subject. It is suited to students who wish to develop their mathematical and/or computational skills within the overall context of physics. The content of the Theoretical Physics degree at York is a recognition of the modern skills required: it provides a balanced programme ranging from traditional mathematical physics methods to, at the other extreme, the simulation of large, complex physical systems on supercomputers. In the final year of the programme students will complete a group project which develops their theoretical and research skills in the discipline.

“I like that you can choose your modules as it means your degree can be tailored to individual interest. We have fantastic resources and equipment available in the Department.”
Melissa, Third Year Student

A flagship of the programme is the access to a range of powerful supercomputers. Through lecture courses and practical labs, you will learn substantial computational skills. The department owns a number of supercomputers (over 700 cores) which are used by students in areas of project work and for parts of specialist computational modules. There is also access to larger facilities within the University and beyond if required. 

Year Abroad

In your third year you will combine your studies with our Year Abroad programme. Students will have the opportunity to spend a full year in France, Germany or Italy with one of our partner institutions. Studying abroad allows students to experience a new culture and learning environment and greatly enhance your CV. To apply for the Year Abroad programme you should have at least a GCSE grade C in the appropriate language.

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
This course is 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

Physics Lab Demo

Our degree courses all share a common core. These core modules, common to all our programmes, provide a coherently structured and well balanced grounding in all the fundamental areas of Physics. It ensures that our degrees are accredited by the Institute of Physics, satisfying the academic component required for Chartered Physicist status. This core Physics grounding allows student to specialise further within the final years of your degree.

First Year 

Our degree courses consist of core and optional modules. The first year emphasis is on core material which contains the essential physics and maths needed to consolidate your pre-university studies and build upon concepts and understanding for the second year.

Stage One Modules

Second Year

The second year emphasis is to build upon concepts and understanding from the first year of study investigating areas such as quantum mechanics, electromagnetism and statistical mechanics, nuclear and particle physics and the physics of the solid state.

Stage Two Modules

Third Year: Studying Abroad

Year Abroad students will spend their third year studying with one of our partner institutions in Europe.  During this placement year students will study a series of recommended courses, chosen to complement the courses at York. Beyond this, students will be free to choose other courses of interest from a range of optional modules at their chosen institution.

Year Abroad Placement

Fourth Year

Within the fourth year final year students will undertake a research project conducted under the supervision of an academic member of staff with expertise in your research area of choice. Students will have the opportunity to study a range of specialist modules in addition to the core modules listed incorporating advanced level modules in more specialist fields.

Stage Three Modules

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 students, but lecturers also is unrivalled.” Sammy, Second 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, Fourth Year Student 

Find out more

How you'll spend your time

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Lectures and seminars408 hours
396 hours
0 hours
240 hours
Independent study792 hours
804 hours
0 hours
960 hours
Placement0 hours
0 hours
1200 hours
0 hours


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 answer 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

Percentage of the course assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Written exams64%64%0%47%
Practical exams2%1%0%4%


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.

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.

Mature students

Applications from mature students are welcomed and are considered on an individual basis.

Entry requirements

A levels

AAA in both Maths and Physics plus a third A-level.  This will include a pass for all practical examinations associated with an A-level course. Plus GCSE at grade C or above in the appropriate Year Abroad language.

The third A level may be in a wide range of acceptable subjects or alternatively two AS subjects may be accepted in place of the third A level. 

In certain circumstances AS Maths at A grade may be considered instead of A level Maths for the BSc programme with students required to take the additional Maths Plus option in the first year of study.

International Baccalaureate

Diploma with score of 36 points with Higher Level Maths and Physics at least grade 6

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

AAAAA (Highers) + AA (Advanced Highers) in Maths and Physics

Irish Leaving Certificate

AAAAAB with Physics and Maths at least grade A1


BTEC Extended Diploma at DDD plus A at A Level in Mathematics and Physics

European Baccalaureate

85% overall with Physics and Maths at least 85%

Other qualifications

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma

D3/D3/D3 with Maths and Physics at least grade D3

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/IGCSE 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

Admissions Tutor,
Dr. Charles Barton:

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