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MPhys (Hons) Physics with Philosophy

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: 2023/24

UCAS code

F3VM

Institution code

Y50

Length

4 years full-time

UK (home) fees

£9,250 per year

International and EU fees

£26,800 per year

Meet us

Find out more about life at York, online and on campus.

Discover York

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.

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.

1st in the Russell Group

for overall satisfaction in Philosophy according to the 2022 National Student Survey

1st in the Russell Group

for academic support in Physics according to the 2022 National Student Survey

5th in the UK

for our departmental research environment – the support we give to our researchers – according to the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the latest REF results (2021).

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

University of the Year shortlisted

We're proud to announce that we've been shortlisted for two prestigious University of the Year awards.

  • Times Higher Education Awards 2021
  • The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022

Find out more about our nominations

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 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 a topic like quantum mechanics or nuclear physics, or a concept such as truth or time. 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.

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 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.

Core modules

  • Knowledge and Perception
  • Classical & Quantum Waves
  • Mathematical, Computational & Professional Skills 1
  • Electromagnetism & Relativity
  • Mathematical, Computational & Professional Skills 2
  • Reason and Argument 

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

  • Thermodynamics & Electromagnetism
  • Mathematics, Professional Skills & Laboratories
  • Statistical & Solid State Physics
  • Quantum, Nuclear & Particle Physics
  • Philosophy of Science

Option modules

You will also study one option module. In previous years, options have covered topics such as:

The options available to you will be confirmed later in the year. For further information please get in touch.

Year 3

Year 3 introduces some advanced concepts, building on the expertise you've developed. You'll cover key areas of advanced physics, with optional modules giving you the chance to delve deeper into your favourite philosophical topic.

Core modules

  • Philosophy of Physics

Option modules

You will also study five option modules. In previous years, options have covered topics such as:

* - Cosmology cannot be taken with Galaxies and the Interstellar Medium and Cosmology

The options available to you will be confirmed later in the year. For further information please get in touch.

Year 4

The fourth year consists of a number of advanced option modules, providing you with the opportunity to specialise further. You'll apply the core knowledge you've developed over the previous years to topics aligned with our internationally-recognised research groups.

You'll undertake a major research project under the supervision of an academic member of staff with expertise in the area you choose to focus on. You'll conduct original research to reach new conclusions and, at the highest levels, contribute to our understanding of physics and philosophy.

Core modules

  • MPhys Research Project & Skills

Our students widely acknowledge the MPhys project as one of the most satisfying and rewarding parts of the course. You'll undertake independent research to investigate a current problem in the field, or bring new perspectives to a familiar topic. You may need to design, build and evaluate equipment for a specific experimental purpose.

Recent projects have included:

  • Knowledge in Context: Exploring the Concept of Truth in Physics and Philosophy
  • The Meaning of the Time Variable in Post-Relativity Physics
  • Shape coexistence in thallium and bismuth isotopes studied by laser spectroscopy
  • Exploring Exotic Nuclear Shapes and Structures
  • Construction of a polarised TIRF microscope to probe membrane diffusion
  • Exotic nuclei studied with knockout and fragmentation reactions

You'll be supported by a professional skills module to hone your research techniques. You'll undertake a literature survey, write a review essay, develop a project plan and give oral and poster presentations in an end-of-year conference.

Option modules

You will also study three option modules. In previous years, options have covered topics such as:

The options available to you will be confirmed later in the year. For further information please get in touch.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.

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:

  • Apply independent learning strategies that incorporate core and advanced physics, mathematics and/or computational knowledge, techniques and understanding to synthesise and evaluate physical world problems.
  • Plan and execute extended or complex scientific investigation using the principles of physics in investigating a hypothesis, and interpret outcomes.
  • 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 a developed  understanding of core philosophical issues 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, working in a critically reflective and autonomous way and supporting their judgement with a sustained line of argument based on a sophisticated appreciation of 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—in particular, articulating the interrelations between core areas and defending outcomes in physics, and explaining key problems, issues, and debates in philosophy.
  • Collaborate effectively with others, and work with a group to apply physics themes and concepts to open-ended problems.
  • Critically evaluate the merits and demerits of competing scientific and philosophical theories, and hence plan and execute an in-depth investigation of a particular area of 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.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK (home) International and EU
£9,250 £26,800

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) fees may increase within the government fee cap in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International fees are subject to increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

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 2023/24 throughout the year.

Masterclass Research Placements

Any student who enters stage 1 of any of our physics degrees having achieved an A* at A level (or equivalent) in Mathematics or Physics and achieves an overall Year Mark of 70 per cent or higher in stage 1 in their first attempt is guaranteed a Masterclass Research Placement.

In addition, a number of Masterclass places will be made available to students who did not qualify based on entry qualification, but who achieve an overall Year Mark of 70 per cent or higher in stage 1 in their first attempt and have demonstrated significant improvement in their abilities during their first year of study.

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.

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.

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. You will regularly join other students for small group discussions of 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
Seminars0-2 hours per week
Problem classes2-4 hours per week
Practicals2-8 hours per week

These figures are representative of a typical 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 School of Physics, Engineering & Technology on Campus West. Most of your teaching will take place in the School, 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%63%14%
Coursework25%33%37%68%
Practical exams6%0%0%18%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17. Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.

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.

Companies that York physics graduates have gone on to work for include: BAE Systems, E.ON, De Vere, The Home Office, Jaguar Land Rover, John Lewis, the Science and Technology Council, and Virgin Money.

Career opportunities

Our graduates are working as:

  • accelerator physicist
  • engineer
  • scientist
  • financial coordinator
  • IT analyst and consultant
  • teacher
  • electrical engineer
  • environmental modeller
  • accountant

Transferable skills

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

Entry requirements

Typical offer
A levels

AAA including Physics and Mathematics. This must include a pass in all practical components (where offered).

Cambridge Pre-U D3, D3, D3 including Physics and Mathematics
European Baccalaureate 85% overall, with 85% in Physics and Mathematics
International Baccalaureate 36 points overall, including 6 in Mathematics and Physics at Higher Level
T levels We are currently not accepting T Levels for this course unless additional A Level (or equivalent qualifications) in Mathematics and Physics have been taken.
International foundation programme Foundation Certificate from our International Pathway College or an appropriate alternative.
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: Black Access Programme, Next Step York, Realising Opportunities, YESS. 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:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, with a minimum of 169 in each component
Duolingo 110 overall, with a minimum of 100 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C
LanguageCert International ESOL SELT B2 Communicator High Pass with a minimum score of 33/50 in each component
PTE Academic 61, with a minimum of 55 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 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.

Next steps

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