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BSc (Hons) Physics with Philosophy (with a year abroad)

Follow in the footsteps of philosopher-scientists from Aristotle to Bertrand Russell and tackle some of the fundamental questions of life, the universe and everything.

Year of entry: 2020

UCAS code

F3V7

Institution code

Y50

Length

4 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

Typical offer

AAB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2020/21)

International fees

£22,080 per year (2020/21)

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Get an insight into the minds of the great thinkers, where the works of Newton and Einstein stand alongside those of Plato and Kant.

Critically evaluate scientific methods and see physics laid bare. Study topics from plasma to paradox and discover fundamental truths about the nature of the Universe.

You'll study the foundations of physics, enhanced by the grand theories of metaphysics, ethics and logic. You'll learn to analyse real-life problems and communicate complex ideas and arguments - key skills for your onward career.

You'll work with world-renowned physicists and philosophers, probing the nature of existence and pushing the boundaries of research.

Gain unique global experiences spending a year at one of our partner universities. Boost your confidence by immersing yourself in a different culture and gain valuable language skills for your CV.

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

Tiny particles, big ideas

Work with academics conducting world-leading research in areas from fusion energy to quantum computing

Year abroad

Spend a year abroad and boost your confidence, independence and language skills

Physics with Philosophy is a degree programme that relentlessly nurtures your talents. You are lent the resources and equipped with the skills required to tackle newfound problems with a prowess you may never have dreamed you possessed.
Joe, MPhys Physics with Philosophy

Course content

This course offers a good all-round study of physics set in the context of wider human knowledge. You'll gain a complete and thorough grounding in physics, from scientific principles to applied experimentation.

In your philosophy modules you'll go beyond the philosophy of science and study the entire history of thought. You'll develop knowledge of the great thinkers of antiquity, different strands of world philosophy and modern perspectives.

In your final year you'll work with a group on an original research project. You'll work under guidance from an academic supervisor to bring new knowledge and deeper understanding to a topic like quantum mechanics or nuclear physics, or a concept such as truth or time.

Study abroad

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

Year 1

Year 1 emphasises core material to consolidate your existing knowledge and prepare you for more advanced study. You'll cover key concepts in physics and gain essential mathematical skills. In philosophy you'll develop your powers of reasoning and argument, challenging your opinions and forming your approach to the bigger philosophical questions.

We'll help you prepare for your year abroad with an additional language module where you will study a European language to an intermediate or advanced level.

Core modules

Option modules

You will choose one of the following 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 physical laws and processes. You'll explore in-depth issues in central philosophy and learn to approach problems creatively.

Core modules

Option modules

Choose one (options change from year-to-year):

Year 3

You'll spend your third year at one of our prestigious partner institutions.  You'll return to York for your fourth year with a fresh perspective, and new ideas and skills which will be invaluable for your future development.

Our current partner universities

Year 4

Your final year introduces some advanced concepts, building on the expertise you've developed. Optional modules give you the chance to delve deeper into your favourite philosophical topic, or discover a new area of physics.

You'll work on a group project to investigate a current problem in philosophy or physics. You can choose to take an interdisciplinary approach, deconstructing scientific and philosophical theories. Alternatively join one of our internationally-renowned research groups and investigate a problem in physics. You'll conduct original research to reach new conclusions and, at the highest levels, contribute to our understanding of the world.

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:

  • Can Closed Time-like Curves Exist?
  • Dark Energy and the Cosmological Constant
  • The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Physics and How It Solves Problems for Relativity Theory

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

Pick 20 Philosophy credits (options change from year-to-year):

Please note that some combinations of modules are not permitted. For more information please contact our admissions tutor.

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.
  • Apply the principles of physics to construct and execute a scientific investigation to evaluate a hypothesis and interpret the results.
  • Recognise and define key problems, issues, and debates across a range of areas of philosophy - including some at the forefront of contemporary work - and apply their understanding in approaching new problems.
  • Develop and articulate solutions to problems and puzzles in philosophy, lay out what can be said for and against these solutions, and make a measured judgement about what is the best solution in each case, supporting that judgement with a sustained line of argument based on the considerations raised.
  • Communicate complex and difficult ideas in clear, precise, and accessible terms to the general public and professional scientists and philosophers in a variety of formats.
  • Collaborate effectively with others, and work with a group to apply physics themes and concepts to open-ended problems.
  • Critically evaluate scientific methods and theories from a philosophical viewpoint, and critically evaluate philosophical views and theories in the light of the findings of modern physics.
  • Engage with a range of physical and philosophical theories, and the connections between them, in order to appreciate the intellectual beauty and societal applications of physics and philosophy, and be inspired to lifelong learning.
I love labs - I really enjoy using all the equipment, having a go at what we've been learning and doing something hands on. We got to have a go at cooling superconductors and using them to levitate magnets which was pretty cool! For me it's a far cry from anything I did at school or college!
Emma, MPhys Physics

Read more on Emma's blog.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £22,080

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.

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK, EU or international student.

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK/EU: 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 students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at 2% per annum.

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.

Funding

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2020/21 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.

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.

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:

Lectures5-12 hours per week
Tutorials0-2 hours per week
Problem classes2-4 hours per week
Practicals2-6 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, practice 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.

Your MPhys Project makes up a large proportion of mark for your final year. You'll be assessed on your lab work and dissertation, and face an oral examination: all great preparation for continuing your studies to PhD level.

We balance various types of assessment to develop and test your different strengths:

  • Examinations
  • Extended assignments
  • Weekly practice questions
  • Formal reports
  • Presentations

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 3Year 4
Written exams69%67%0%26%
Coursework25%33%100%70%
Practical exams6%0%0%4%

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

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 with higher level Maths and Physics at grade 6
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

You should also have a GCSE at grade 4 (C) or above in French, German or Italian

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 55, with a minimum of 51 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 169, with a minimum of 162 each component
TOEFL 79 overall, with a minimum of 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking, 17 in Writing
Trinity ISE III Pass in all components

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 IELTS 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).

Interview days

If we're thinking about making you an offer, we'll invite you to an interview day. This gives us a chance to discuss your choice of course and get a better picture of you as an individual. You'll get a chance to look around the Department and University, attend a mini-lecture, take part in some hands-on activities, and talk to our academics and student ambassadors.

International applicants

If you're applying from outside the UK we can arrange telephone interviews. Part of the interview takes place online, so you'll need to be able to connect to the internet while you are on the phone.

Next steps

Contact us

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Department of Philosophy, Department of Physics

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