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Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the more common enquiries we receive along with their answers. If you have a question which isn't answered here, please contact us to make an enquiry.

Click a question to reveal the answer.


Do you have information on accommodation?

Our accommodation webpages have lots of useful information including online tours of student accommodation and prices.  Visit them to find out more.

Do I choose which college to be in?

Some rooms and colleges are more popular than others, so early application is advised in order to increase your chances of getting your prefered choice. You will be able to rank your room and college preferences as part of your accomodations application.

Whether we are your firm or insurance choice, as a first year undergraduate, you are guaranteed an offer of a room in accommodation owned, managed or approved by the University if you apply for accommodation by the deadline stated in the website. If you pay overseas tuition fees, we can guarantee you a room for each year of your course provided you apply for the full letting period by the deadline date. You can apply as soon as you have selected us as your firm or insurance choice.

For more information and details of accommodation guarantee deadline visit the Applying and Payments: Undergraduate accommodation web pages



What is the cost of living in University accommodation?

There are various kinds of fully furnished and centrally heated accommodation available from the University and a wide variety of prices.

Most university accommodation is situated on or within a mile of campus and is conveniently located for the centre of York. More details about colleges, rooms and prices can be found from the Accommodation Office.

Applications and offers information

What is your typical conditional offer?

The typical offer varies depending on the level of course chosen and the studies you are currently undertaking:

A Levels
MPhys: AAA, BSc: AAB
Including Physics and Maths at grade A and a pass in all practical components where offered.

International Baccalaureate
Mphys: 36 Points, BSc: 35 Points
With Higher level Maths and Physics at grade 6.

National Extended Diploma
DDD plus A at A level in Physics and Maths.

Foundation Year
Due to the highly diverse experience of the foundation year applicants, the offer extended will vary depending on the individual, although typically a BBB at A-level would be requested for students without additional work experience. Please email for more details.

Other Qualifications
For details of other acceptable qualifications please email

If I decide to defer for a year now that I've received an offer from the University of York, will it be possible to hold my offer for entry the following year, or will I have to reapply?

You will not have to reapply. Simply let us know in writing that you would like to defer, and we will inform UCAS to change your application to a deferred application. There is no problem as far as the Department is concerned with you deferring, but we expect that in your year out you are able to maintain a reasonable knowledge in Maths and Physics so that you can pick up to full speed quickly when you join us a year later.

Your message needs to be sent to and must include your full name, UCAS number and instructions to defer for the following year.

What if I exceed the BSc offer?

If you have accepted our conditional offer of a place on the BSc programme and find that you have got better results than expected and actually met the offer requirement for the MPhys programme, you can change your course to MPhys.

This means that, should you change your course, you can start on the MPhys programme at the start of your first term, or if you wish, you can choose to stay in the BSc programme and transfer between to the MPhys course at the end of the first and second year, subject to satisfactory performance.

What if something goes wrong?

We hope you have a smooth and trouble-free time whilst preparing for and taking your exams, but this is not always the case. There are a number of things that can go wrong, such as long-term illness of one of your teachers, or some medical condition that affects you or a close family member, or some other personal situation, etc. This is generally known as "mitigating circumstances" as it can affect your exam performance and result in you getting a lower grade than would otherwise be the case.

If this happens, then you should let us know! You can upload appropriate documentation via your personal account on the Applicant Portal, or you can email directly.

This information will then be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to accept you onto the degree at results time.

Computer information

Is there an Internet connection available in study bedrooms?

Eduroam is the University's wireless network. Once you have set up your laptop, tablet, phone, etc. You will automatically connect to internet once you are near a wifi hotspot.

Please note that although on campus accommodation has access to Eduroam, some off campus settings may require you to configure your device for wired and wireless connectivity.

What if I don't own a computer?

All students are given a computer user name. This allows you free access to UNIX machines and PCs with a range of centrally provided software applications. PC classrooms are around campus in colleges and the majority of them are open to student use 24 hours a day. In addition, there are PCs available for use in the Department of Physics Teaching Laboratories. So if you don't own a computer it is not a major problem.

What if I do need more support to use computer applications, etc?

The Department provides all 1st year students with an introduction to a number of scientifically relevant software packages as well as basic instructions on how to use word processing, spreadsheets and e-mail.

The IT Services team provides additional support and training including a wide range of online, face-to-face and one-to-one training opportunities, tailored to the needs of University students to help you acquire computer skills in, for example, Windows Tips, Google Essentials, Microsoft Office and how to operate a range of devices and printers.

More information concerning computing and IT services can be found at the IT Services page.

Course information

When does term start? When are the holidays?

The University runs a 3 term system with a 10 week Autumn, Spring and Summer term, with exams in January and May. 

The exact dates change from year to year, feel free to check our current and future term dates

When will I find out my timetable?

The University offers every student their own personalised on-line timetable, which you can either view in a web browser or link to an online calendar service on a smart phone, etc. This will be automatically updated whenever there are any changes. It usually goes live during Fresher's Week, before the start of teaching. More information is on the student timetable page.

How late can I change from one course to another?

You can change between the different single honours degrees, e.g. from Theoretical Physics to Physics, typically within the first year.

You are generally allowed to change between a joint honours and a single honours degree within the first few weeks of the first term, e.g. Physics with Philosophy to Physics, or Theoretical Physics to Mathematics and Physics.

Any changes after this time are considered on an individual basis and would be at the discretion of the relevant board of studies.

You can also change between the 3 year BSc and the 4 year MPhys variants of each degree. This is subject to suitable academic performance and can be done at the end of year 1 and/or year 2. No changes are allowed after the end of year 2.

How many hours per week of contact time are there in the first year?

More information on contact hours can be found on your selected course web page, under the "Teaching and assessment" tab. You can search your course in our Undergraduate section.

How much work do we need to hand in each week?

Each week you will typically be asked to attempt and hand in up to 4 sets of problems, these are based on work that has been covered in the lecture courses that you will be attending. The aim of the problems is to ensure you use and think about the material you have learned. In some weeks you will have to submit a Laboratory Report or a course assignment.

The deadlines for these are staggered to ensure that you do not become overloaded and always have sufficient time in which to complete the work.

What feedback do we get about our answers to problem sheets?

Work handed back is annotated with bespoke feedback on your approach and is often accompanied by model answers, which are written by the module lecturer and posted each week onto the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). You will also have chance to talk through returned weekly questions with your marker in associated problem classes, where you will receive further feedback on the work you undertake in that class.

Most first year and many second year modules are further supported by tutorials, where a small group of students (typically five or six) meet with one tutor. The format of tutorials is flexible, but tutors may use them to go over problems that have been set in the previous week, particularly if they have caused difficulty. This is also your chance to ask questions to help advance your own understanding of the module.

Are there any other types of support offered?

Yes. Some courses are supported by problem classes in which the whole class meets with a member of staff to look in detail at solutions to problems. In the first year we run a series of "Maths Practicals" that provide additional support for the first year Mathematics courses.

There is also a student-run support activity, the  Physics Undergraduate Consultancy Service (or PUCS for short), which meets once a week and where 3rd and 4th year students assist 1st and 2nd year students.

Also, our academic staff are always happy to help with any problems you may be having with the course material.

Who monitors my progress during my degree? Do I get regular feedback about my performance?

Ultimately the Board of Studies in Physics is responsible for monitoring the progress of all students. However, at the beginning of your degree, you will be assigned a supervisor who will be a member of staff within the Department of Physics. Your supervisor will monitor your progress and discuss this with you at the beginning and end of each term or immediately after exam results come out. Each week problems are marked and returned giving the student very prompt feedback on perfomance and understanding.

We hope that you will develop a friendly relationship with your supervisor so that you feel free to confide any illnesses or problems that are affecting your academic performance.

The Board of Studies provides you with a transcript of your results at the beginning of each academic year.

Can I take modules from other departments?

Yes, there is the possibility of taking elective modules outside of physcs. The opportunities for particular modules to be taken may be, however, limited by timetable clashes with physics courses. Please contact us for more information.

Do you listen to students' views about teaching? How do we let you know what our views are?

We take students' views on the quality of our teaching and the content of our courses very seriously. At the end of each lecture course you are provided with a questionnaire that asks questions about both quality and content. The course lecturer and the Head of Department review these. Lecturers will often modify courses in the light of your comments and the effects of these measures are reviewed in the following year. Of course if you have a specific point that you wish to make then you are also free to mention it to the lecturer in person before the end of the course.

Alternatively you can ask one of the student representatives, elected by your year, to raise points in their meetings with staff. There are student representatives on the Board of Studies, the Student-Staff Committee and the Departmental Teaching Committee. In addition the student representatives meet the Year Tutors at least once a term.

Do you offer a Year in Industry?

Yes we do. 

Our industrial placements can be accessed through a variety of routes including final year projects, summer placements and a year in industry. Please visit our Year In Industry pages for more information.

Can I do research during the summer in the Department?

Each year we offer a number of undergraduates the chance to do full-time research for 6 - 10 weeks during the summer vacation. In recent years we have had at least 15 students doing summer projects with us. In addition to the experience, you will gain a useful item to add to your CV whilst the Department will benefit from your contribution.

Are there any recommended books / reading list?

Background reading is always useful, so here are some recommended general physics books:

    • The New World of Mr Tompkins by George Gamow and Russell Stannard (Cambridge University Press)
    • How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life by Louis A Bloomfield (Wiley) 
    • Magazines such as New Scientist, Physics Review and Physics World.

As a general 'preparing to study' guide we recommend:

    • Studying Physics by David Sands (Palgrave Study Guide)

And finally, the two recommended core texts for 1st year Physics are:

    • University Physics with Modern Physics by H D Young and R A Freedman (Pearson) which we will provide to you when you arrive at York.
    • Engineering Mathematics by K A Stroud (Palgrave) 

NB Copies of all core texts are in the University Library but are also available to order online or at local bookshops.


Disability and Equal Opportunities information

What support can the University provide? Who in the Department will know?

We are committed to providing equal opportunites and welcome applications from everyone without regard to any disability - it is your academic ability that is key. Once you are here, the University provides a specialist disability support unit, which you can go to for an individual assessment and they will ensure that appropriate support is put in place for you according to your needs. This will be confidential to you, the Departmental Disability Advisor, your personal supervisor and selected other staff on a strict "need to know" basis only.

Examinations information

Are all the marks based on examinations?

No. There are examinations at the end of each year which contribute to the overall mark. However, you can also gain marks by answering the problems which are given out weekly. In addition, the work you do in laboratories and for projects makes a significant contribution to your annual mark. Some courses are assessed by an assignment rather than by an examination.

How are the marks, which contribute to my degree, spread over the 3 or 4 years?

Full details of how our degree classifications are calculated can be found in the University’s Guide to Assessment.

Finance information

What are the bursary schemes for students at the University of York

For information on the University’s scholarship and bursary schemes for both home and international students please check our Undergaduate Fees and Funding pages.

Are there any opportunities for sponsorship?

The Department does not have any formal sponsorship arrangements with industry. But if you wish to pursue this yourself the Institute of Physics provides a very useful book which contains the names of companies that have expressed an interest in sponsoring physics students. (“Sponsorship and Work Placements for Physics Students”, published by and available from: The Institute of Physics, Education Department, 76 Portland Place, London, W1N 4AA.)

Are vacation jobs at the University available to students?

Yes. During the vacation, portering, catering, security, audio visual jobs, for example, are available to students to support the University's conference trade. In addition, Careers Service provide some opportunities for students who are looking for part-time, temporary and seasonal work in the local area. We also offer opportunites to our undergraduates to assist in our diverse outreach programme.

Temporary and part-time work - Student home, The University of York

Look for work - Student home, The University of York

Outreach Opportunites, Department of Physics


What service does the University provide for graduates looking for employment?

The Department of Physics also provides guidance through your Departmental Supervisor, the Departmental Careers Liaison Officer, and the White Rose Industrial Physics Academy (WRIPA), this includes physics-specific careers fairs as well as extensive professional skills training on CV preparation and interview technique.

The University Careers Service exists to assist you at any time during your 3 or 4 years at York, and after graduation if help is still required. Apart from extensive information about jobs, employers, postgraduate opportunities, etc., there is a regular programme of fairs, forums and presentations. The Careers Service also provides help with the process of identifying what it is you want to do after graduation. 

Language learning information

What opportunity is there for me to learn a foreign language?

The University-wide Languages for All (LFA) programme offers a range of foreign language courses to students in all departments. They are offered at five different levels (subject to demand) ranging from 'no previous knowledge' to 'Year 3 University level' and can be taken as part of the York Award scheme. For information about current courses visit the Languages for All (LFA) website

Sports and social life

What opportunities for sports and joining societies are available?

The University of York Students' Union (YUSU) Societies are a fantastic hub of activity. From performances to political action there really is something for everyone. With approximately 200 groups, you can be part of a community on campus. We also encourage new societies to set-up. So many students say their best time at University was being part of a society. Make some memories and add something to your CV by being part of great student-led activity. Further details abouit societies available at the YUSU website. 

The York Sport Union has nearly 70 different university sport clubs. All the clubs are student-led which means they are run for the students, by the students. Clubs range from women’s rugby, hockey and lacrosse, to the more obscure octopush.

Many of our clubs compete in BUCS (British University College Sport). There are three types of competitions that can be entered in BUCS. These are the BUCS Leagues, Individual Competitions or Team Competitions. This will involve travelling across the country to compete against other universities. This is an incredible experience and a great way to meet new people! 

What sport facilities are on campus?

The University has recently built a brand new "Sports Village" on Campus East which has many state of the art features, including 8-lane 25 m swimming pool, fitness suite, spa, etc. On Campus West there is also the Sports Centre which as well as having gyms, squash courts and indoor pitches, also has a running track and floodlit all-weather pitches.

There are also many sporting events, at all levels, organized by the York Sport Union.

What musical activities are available for physics students?

Apart from attending frequent concerts in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall and Central Hall, students from any department can audition for the University Orchestra, the Jazz orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra (only by invitation after a University Orchestra audition), wind ensemble, and early music group.

For singers there is the Chamber Choir and University Choir, as well as Student Societies such as the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and the Glee Singers. Non-Music Department students who are members of the student Music Society can practise in the practice rooms in Langwith College. Several other student societies have a musical focus such as Band Society, Concert Band Society, Concert Orchestra Society, Lunatic Fringe (alternative music), Music Society, Revelation Rock Gospel Choir, Jazz and Blues Society and Dance Society.

Is there an International Students Association ?

The ISA - International Students' Association (YUSU) is a student body which represents the specific interests of the increasing number of international students at York. All overseas students, undergraduate and postgraduate (including students from the EU), are automatically members of the ISA, which is jointly financed by the Students' Union and the Graduate Students' Association.

The ISA's functions are threefold: firstly, it aims to address problems - personal, social or administrative - which might be faced by students in a foreign land. Secondly, and more positively, it opens up opportunities for international and cultural exchange by organising social events, especially during the annual 'International Week' which culminates in Fiesta, a cultural and culinary tour of the world. Thirdly ,the ISA arranges trips around Britain and Europe to enable international students to visit some of the major tourist attractions.

The ISA Executive Committee is responsible for running the Association, and the Association is represented on a number of University committees. The ISA holds open meetings which all international students are welcome to attend. You are encouraged to get involved with the running of the ISA, either as a member of the Executive or in a more informal way.

Other support for International students can be found here: International students - Student home, The University of York

Studying Abroad

Are there any possibilities to study abroad apart from the Year Abroad programme?

Yes. The University runs a number of student exchange schemes with partner universities around the world, including North America, Asia, Australia and other European countries. However, there are only a small number of places available at each partner university and so there is stiff competition from across the different York departments to be selected. Hence we cannot guarantee you a place, unlike the named 'Year Abroad' degree option.

Volunteering as a Student

What opportunities are there for me to get involved with volunteering?

The University runs a number of different volunteering schemes. See the website for details of this and other schemes.

The Student Union also runs various RAG events ("Raising and Giving") as do the different colleges' Junior Common Rooms (JCRs), culminating in RAG Week in Spring Term each year.

York Award

What is the York Award?

The York Award is a certificated programme of transferable skills training and experiential learning, offered by the University of York in partnership with leading public, private and voluntary sector organisations.

Other questions?

Any other questions?

If you have any questions which are not answered here, please feel free to contact our Undergraduate Admissions team:


Undergraduate Admissions

Department of Physics
University of York
York, UK
YO10 5DD

Phone: +44 (0)1904 432241
Fax: +44 (0)1904 432214



Dr Andrew Higginbotham

Dr Erik Wagenaars

Department of Physics
University of York
York, UK
YO10 5DD

Phone: +44 1904 322241