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BSc (Hons) Theoretical Physics (with a year in industry)

Explore phenomena which experimentation can't easily explain, and put theory into practice with a year in industry

Year of entry: 2021
Show year of entry: 2020

UCAS code

F344

Institution code

Y50

Length

4 years full-time

Typical offer

AAB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2021/22)

International fees

£22,080 per year (2021/22)

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Theoretical physics provides the tools for constructing the mathematical framework of the physical world.

On a foundation of advanced physics, you'll build your understanding of theoretical techniques. You'll use mathematical analysis and an array of computational methods to address complex problems. You'll learn key skills of analysis and research, write scientific reports to industry standards, and simulate huge physical systems using our supercomputers.

In your third year, you'll apply and develop your skills on a paid industrial placement. This gives you the chance to gain practical, real-world experience, enhancing your degree and your CV.

Work with world-renowned physicists using sophisticated equipment to probe the nature of existence and push the boundaries of research. You will learn to utilise supercomputers like York's own Viking cluster, developing parallel code to model complex physical systems.

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 Atomic and Nuclear 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.
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, BSc Theoretical Physics

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.

As you progress you'll hone your skills, designing computational studies and solving physical and mathematical problems. You'll gain experience working with sophisticated equipment and specialist software. You'll spend your third year in industry, putting your skills into practice, and gaining useful experience for your final year and beyond.

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 plasmas, gamma rays or electron detection.

Study abroad

There are 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 study a range of key modules, and develop your theoretical and computational skills 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.  You'll learn to approach problems creatively and further develop your programming and analytical skills in our dedicated computational laboratories.

Core modules

Year 3

In your third year, you'll undertake a paid placement in industry. This is a chance to apply your physics knowledge, gain valuable work experience, and forge links which could prove useful to your future career.

Our dedicated placement team will help you find and apply for placements. A series of industrial visits and events will assist in your search. In recent years our students have had placements at leading companies and research organisations such as:

  • Kromek
  • Dyson
  • MM Microwave
  • BAE Systems
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Airbus
  • Selex ES
  • Institut Laue Langevin
  • Food & Environment Agency
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council
  • Thales

You will be assigned an industrial supervisor, who is an employee of the company, and an academic supervisor from the department; both will support and monitor your progress through your placement year.

Placements are led by the White Rose Industrial Physics Academy, who promote unique collaborations between York and our leading industrial partners.

You are responsible for securing your chosen placement. If you don't find a placement you will transfer to the standard BSc Theoretical Physics pathway.

Year 4

In your final year, you'll cover 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 physics.

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:

  • Simulation of plasma blobs
  • Geant Monte-Carlo simulations for the electrons detection system at ISOLDE(CERN)
  • Correlation in systems of interacting electrons
  • Probing the structure and dynamics of DNA
  • Optimisation of single photon x-ray diffraction signals
  • Developing pulse shape algorithms for radiation detectors
  • Magnetic properties of 2D nanoribbons
  • Superconducting flux qubits
  • Optical properties of materials in the extreme ultra-violet
  • Vortex beam production by nature inspired pattern

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.
  • Integrate a range of analytical, computational methods and the appropriate methodology to construct models of physical phenomena.
  • Articulate how a physics-trained individual and physics approaches can contribute to successful industrial, commercial and/or non-academic environments.

Fees and funding

The fees and funding figures below are for 2020 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/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 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.

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:

Lectures9-12 hours per week
Tutorials0-1 hours per week
Problem classes2-4 hours per week
Practicals6-8 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 3Year 4
Written exams64%64%0%47%
Coursework34%35%100%49%
Practical exams2%1%0%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
Studying Physics at York is an experience like no other. The community here between students and lecturers is unrivalled.
Sammy, Second Year student

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

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).

 

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