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MPhys (Hons) Physics

Accelerate towards a career as a professional physicist in industry or academia.

Year of entry: 2021/22
Show year of entry: 2020

UCAS code

F303

Institution code

Y50

Length

4 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

Typical offer

AAA (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

Physics is the study of the fundamental forces of the Universe, understanding the nature of waves and particles, and the structure of matter.

You will develop advanced techniques for researching fundamental physics, scientific principles and methods. You'll investigate subjects like nanosystems, semiconductors, fusion plasmas, biophysics, and quantum computing.

You'll learn to analyse real-life problems, write scientific reports, communicate complex concepts, and design and perform experiments.

Work with world-renowned physicists with access to unique facilities like our Astrocampus and the York Plasma Institute giving you unprecedented opportunities to observe and experiment, helping you develop skills essential for higher-level research.

Accreditation

Our Physics courses are accredited by the Institute of Physics, 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

Course content

This course will build on your previous studies to prepare you for advanced research in industry or academia. 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 lab skills, designing experiments and solving problems. You'll gain experience working with sophisticated equipment and specialist software.

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 an area such as quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, nanomaterials or lasers.

Study abroad

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

We also offer MPhys Physics (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

Optional modules

Choose one of the following Professional Skills modules. In these modules, you'll study with an eye to developing a range of abilities essential for high-level physics.

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 skills of experimentation.

Core modules

Year 3

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

You'll complete advanced laboratory work which will include preparation for your research project in the final year.

Core modules

Option modules

Choose 60 credits from:

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

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.

Core modules

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:

  • Shape coexistence in thallium and bismuth isotopes studied by laser spectroscopy
  • Exploring Exotic Nuclear Shapes and Structures
  • Nuclear Instrumentation Solutions for Industry
  • Construction of a polarised TIRF microscope to probe membrane diffusion
  • Exotic nuclei studied with knockout and fragmentation reactions
  • Strain control of a magnonic crystal

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

Choose 60 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:

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.

Work independently and within a research team and apply group-specific research methodologies, including objective analysis and constructive criticism of research level literature, to extended or complex open-ended problems.

Communicate succinctly to the general public and professional physicists through accurate and precise scientific record keeping, scientific report writing and presentations.

Select and apply sophisticated digital tools for in-depth scientific investigation and in wider societal applications.

Use sophisticated experimental design measurement and/or analysis methods to evaluate a physics model or theory whilst appraising the accuracy, correctness and limitations of the approach.

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

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

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 (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.

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.

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 classes1-4 hours per week
Practicals2-5 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.

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
  • 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%68%46%
Coursework34%31%32%36%
Practical exams2%5%0%18%

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
I chose York because the Department is one of the best in the country, and along with the whole University carries a strong reputation for teaching and research.
Tim, MPhys Physics

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
A levels

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

Cambridge Pre-U D3, D3, D3 including Physics and Maths
European Baccalaureate 85% overall, with 85% in Physics and Maths
International Baccalaureate 36 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 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).

Next steps

Contact us

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Department of Physics

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