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BSc (Hons) Physics with Astrophysics

Thinking space

Year of entry: 2021/22

UCAS code

F3F5

Institution code

Y50

Length

3 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

Typical offer

AAB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

UK (home) fees

£9,250 per year

International and EU fees

£22,650 per year

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in the UK for Physics

Guardian University Guide 2021

for 'overall satisfaction' in Astronomy

National Student Survey 2020

Astrophysicists look to the skies to discover more about the nature of our Universe.

From the nuclear reactions that power our sun to the mysteries of dark matter, you'll study the great challenges of cosmology in topics aligned with our active research.

To explore the cosmos you'll need grounding in many disciplines of physics, from optics to electromagnetism, quantum physics to classical mechanics. You'll gain foundational understanding of fundamental physics, scientific principles and methods. You'll learn key skills for analysing real-life problems, write scientific reports to industry standards, communicate complex concepts, and solve mind-bending astronomical puzzles.

Accreditation

Our Physics courses are accredited by the Institute of Physics (iop.org), guaranteeing the standard of our teaching and learning. Completing this degree will put you on track to becoming a Chartered Physicist.

IOP Institute of Physics

Physics Lab virtual tour

Take a virtual tour of one or our modern, dedicated laboratories showing a typical range of lab equipment and facilities that you'll use.

We have additional teaching resources on the second floor of the teaching tower. This more flexible laboratory space is used for activities such as our dedicated Foundation year laboratories, advanced 3rd year practicals and final year projects. It also houses our computational laboratories and one of our two dedicated student study spaces for undergraduate physicists.

Course content

This course will give you a grounding in fundamental physics and mathematics, alongside a range of advanced topics. Our core and optional modules will give you a broad base of knowledge, and opportunities to focus on the specialist subjects which excite your curiosity.

Specialist modules allow you to pursue a broad understanding of modern astrophysics, including stars, galaxies and the exotic concepts of dark matter and dark energy.

In your final year you'll form a team to design and carry out an original research project. You'll work under guidance from an academic supervisor to bring new knowledge and deeper understanding to an area such as radio astronomy, infrared spectroscopy or variable stars.

Study abroad

There are opportunities for you to spend time abroad during your course:

We also offer this course with a year abroad.

Year 1

Year 1 emphasises core material to consolidate your existing knowledge and prepare you for more advanced study. You'll study a range of key modules, and put your learning into practice in the lab throughout the year.

Core modules

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module.

Year 2

In Year 2 you'll deepen your understanding of fundamental laws, processes and techniques. Advanced laboratory work will enable you to plan and execute extended experiments. You'll learn to approach problems creatively and develop your observational astronomy skills.

Core modules

Year 3

Year 3 introduces some advanced concepts, building on the expertise you've developed. Option modules give you the chance to delve deeper into your favourite topic, or discover a new area of advanced physics.

You'll work on a group project to investigate a current problem in the field. You'll conduct original research to reach new conclusions and, at the highest levels, contribute to our understanding of the Universe.

Core modules

The BSc Project gives you the chance to design and carry out an extended scientific investigation. You'll join a small group looking at a project which will require creativity and original thinking to tackle. Each project is supervised by a specific member of staff with relevant expertise, who can give advice and assistance.

Recent projects have included:

  • Practical Radio Astronomy
  • Observing Variable Stars using a Remote Observatory
  • Infrared Spectroscopy of Bright Stars
  • Gamma-ray circular polarimeters
  • Investigating Stellar Nucleosynthesis with an Astrophysical Reaction Network
  • Anti-roll gyrostat technology applied to land, sea, air and space vehicles

You'll be supported by a professional skills module, building on the expertise developed in Years 1 and 2. You'll work with a team to develop a talk and academic poster to be given at a conference at the end of the year.

Option modules

Choose 40 credits from:

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide clear and ambitious learning outcomes. These learning outcomes give you an understanding of what you will be able to do at the end of the course. We develop each course by designing modules that grow your abilities towards the learning outcomes and help you to explain what you can offer to employers. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

Assess and evaluate problems, providing solutions through the application of physics and mathematics knowledge and techniques.

Construct and execute a scientific investigation using the principles of physics in investigating a hypothesis, and interpret outcomes.

Communicate the integration and inter-relation of core physics, present sophisticated concepts and defend outcomes of physical studies succinctly in both written and oral formats to audiences in a logical way.

Interact and collaborate effectively within groups applying core physics themes and concepts to open-ended problems.

Use of appropriate digital technologies in data handling and understand the wider applications of these techniques in quantitative science.

Discriminate between modern astrophysics methods and articulate limitations imposed on understanding by assessing systematic and random errors in the interpretation of results.

It's a very rewarding course with plenty of opportunities to 'go your own way'. There is equipment for optical, solar and radio observations in the same place, so there's always something to do.
Dominic, BSc Physics with Astrophysics

Fees and funding

The fees and funding figures below are for 2021/22 entry. If you take a year abroad or year in industry you'll pay a reduced rate of fees for that year

Annual tuition fees

UK (home) International and EU
£9,250 £22,650

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK (home): further increases within the government fee cap will apply in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International: fees for international and EU students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at two per cent each year.

More information

For more information about tuition fees, any reduced fees for study abroad and work placement years, scholarships, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs see undergraduate fees and funding.

Additional costs

You will need to cover transportation costs to/from any placement during a year in industry as well as living costs while on placement. You should be able to cover the majority of expenses with salary earned during the placement.

You will need to cover transportation costs to/from any placement during a year abroad. You may be eligible for extra loans and/or grants through your student loan provider dependent on your financial background.

Funding

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2021/22 throughout the year.

Physics Academic Excellence Scholarships

We offer £1,000 in each year of your degree if you achieve an A* or equivalent in Mathematics or Physics and select York as your firm choice when applying. This scholarship is renewable each year, subject to attaining full credits and an overall mark of 70 per cent or higher at your first attempt.

Master Class Research Placements

If you achieved an A* or equivalent in A level Mathematics or Physics and maintain an overall mark of 70% or higher Year 1 you'll be guaranteed a paid summer placement with one our research groups.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Working as an accelerator physicist I am involved with enabling the efficient, reliable and safe operation of the particle accelerators as well as understanding the underlying physics to help design upgrades and particle accelerators of the future.
Hayley, Physics with Astrophysics (2009), Accelerator Physicist, Science and Technology Facilities Council
Teaching Excellence Framework Gold Award

“Students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes”

The TEF Panel, Office for Students, June 2018

Our Gold Teaching Excellence Framework award demonstrates our commitment to the delivery of consistently outstanding teaching and learning for our students.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll study and learn with academics who are active researchers, experts in their field and have a passion for their subjects. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

We hope to deliver this course as advertised for 2021/22 entry, but it’s unclear when we’ll be able to return to a normal timetable. For an idea of how this course might be affected, see our changes for 2020/21 entry.

Teaching format

Much of your teaching will be in the form of lectures based on our cutting-edge research. Twice a week you'll join four or five other students to discuss course material with a tutor. Discussions often range beyond the immediate subject matter to wider implications and issues.

You'll have regular meetings with a personal academic supervisor, who will guide your studies and keep an eye on your academic progress and general welfare.

Timetabled activities

In your first year, you can expect:

Lectures10 hours per week
Tutorials0-1 hours per week
Problem classes2-4 hours per week
Practicals5-8 hours per week

These figures are based on an average student in an average week. Your contact hours will vary throughout the year due to your module choices, non-compulsory classes, exam periods and changes to scheduled activities.

Outside your timetabled hours, you'll study independently. This may include preparation for classes, follow-up work, wider reading, practise completion of assessment tasks, or revision.

In the UK, full-time students are expected to spend 1,200 hours a year learning. That's about 40 hours of classes and independent study each week during term time. Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours you spend on independent study will be different to other students on your course.

Teaching location

You'll be based in the Department of Physics on Campus West. Most of your teaching will take place in the Department, with some classes in the Department of Mathematics and elsewhere on Campus West.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

Most of your assessment will be by formal examination. You'll also be marked on regular problem exercises and laboratory work, coursework and formal report writing. We balance various types of assessment to develop and test your different strengths:

  • Examinations
  • Extended assignments
  • Weekly practice questions
  • Formal reports
  • Practical laboratory work
  • Presentations
  • Practical research methods

You'll get prompt, regular feedback to help you develop your skills. Our open door policy means you can always approach your tutors if you want to discuss your work.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams64%67%57%
Coursework34%32%39%
Practical exams2%1%4%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

Physics lab virtual tour

Take a virtual tour of one or our modern, dedicated laboratories showing a typical range of lab equipment and facilities that you'll use.

We have additional teaching resources on the second floor of the teaching tower. This more flexible laboratory space is used for activities such as our dedicated Foundation year laboratories, advanced 3rd year practicals and final year projects. It also houses our computational laboratories and one of our two dedicated student study spaces for undergraduate physicists.

Careers and skills

Our graduates are sought by employers in a huge range of disciplines. The skills you will learn - analysis, mathematics, problem-solving - are relevant in industries from finance to software development. All of this is supported by the York-led White Rose Industrial Physics Academy; a dedicated resource to facilitate collaboration between students and industry. Alternatively, many of our graduates progress to postgraduate degrees at York and other leading universities. 

We're committed to supporting our students' career development and employability - it's embedded in our core teaching. We organise activities from careers fairs to leadership building exercises to ensure you're prepared to enter the jobs market with a competitive edge.

Career opportunities

Our graduates are working as:

  • Accelerator Physicist, Science and Technology Council
  • Engineer, BAE Systems
  • Scientist, The Home Office
  • Financial Coordinator, De Vere
  • IT Analyst and Consultant, Virgin money
  • Teacher
  • Electrical Engineer, Jaguar Land Rover
  • Environmental Modeller, E.ON
  • Accountant, John Lewis

Transferable skills

  • Self-management
  • Communication skills
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Creativity and innovation
  • IT literacy
  • Mathematics

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
A levels

AAB including A in Physics and Maths. This must include a pass in all practical components (where offered).

Cambridge Pre-U D3, D3, M2 including D3 in Physics and Maths
European Baccalaureate 80% overall, with 85% in Physics and Maths
International Baccalaureate 35 points overall, including 6 in Mathematics and Physics at Higher Level
Other qualifications All other qualifications, including Scottish Highers and Irish Leaving Certificates, will be considered individually. If you don't have suitable qualifications in Maths and/or Physics, successfully completing a Foundation Year will guarantee a place on any of our undergraduate degrees: Physics (with a foundation year) (BSc) We welcome applications from mature students and students without standard qualifications. Please contact our admissions team to discuss your specific circumstances. You may also be interested in our part-time access course: Physics via OpenPlus
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Alternative offers

Meeting the following additional criteria may qualify you for an alternative offer.

Criteria Adjustment
Widening participation If you successfully complete one of the following programmes, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to three A level grades (or equivalent) below our typical offer: Next Step York, Realising Opportunities. More about widening participation.
Contextual offers If you have experience of local authority care or live in an area with low progression to university, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to two A level grades (or equivalent) below our typical offer. More about contextual offers.
EPQ We recognise the value of this qualification although it will not be included as a condition of entry. It may be taken into consideration when you receive your results.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Qualification Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component
PTE Academic 61, with a minimum of 55 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, with a minimum of 169 in each component
TOEFL 87 overall, with a minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all components
Duolingo 110 overall, with a minimum of 100 in each component

For more information see our undergraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.

Applying

To apply to York, you will need to complete an online application via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

Applicants will be required to attend an interview prior to any offer being made; for the current application cycle the interviews will be held online.

Next steps

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