Theoretical PhysicsUCAS code: F390
ECTS: 240 credits
Start date: October 2017
Duration: 4 years full-time

LocationSouth Kensington

The study of the universe and its origins; the understanding of how matter behaves through space and time.

You will cover fundamental topics, including electromagnetism, optics, quantum and classical mechanics, relativity, statistical physics and thermodynamics, wave phenomena and the properties of matter.

About the course

Overview

Our courses are structured around a common core to ensure that all students have a good grounding in the fundamental aspects of physics, mathematics and experimental methods.

The MSci Physics with Theoretical Physics course is ideally suited to those with a specific interest in mathematics and its application. It places less emphasis on experimental work.

The MSci courses are closer to how undergraduate degrees are structured in Europe, which are generally four-year programmes, meaning that you will have the opportunity to pursue further study in Europe or a career in research.

Years one and two include an additional mathematics module, and there is a choice of theoretical optional modules as the degree progresses.

Once you have covered the fundamental elements of physics, you will continue to the third and fourth years where you will undertake specialised theoretical physics modules, and complete an MSci project.

Which course is right for you?

A wide choice is available and there is considerable flexibility in how you make your choice, subject to the degree stream you have chosen.

In your application you only need to specify one course. We will discuss your choice with you and we take a flexible approach to course changes both at admissions stage and during the early years of the course.

This MSci course is designed for those wishing to study at a higher level or pursue a career as an academic or researcher. It is comparable in level to the longer degree courses typically found in most other European countries.

View the Department overview to view all of our Physics courses.

Structure

Modules shown are for the current academic year, and are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

You will normally need to achieve a grade of 40% in each academic year in order to progress to the next.

In the fourth year you must achieve 50%.


Year 1

Core modules
  • Electricity and Magnetism, Relativity
  • Laboratory and Computing I
  • Mathematical Analysis I
  • Mathematics
  • Measurement and Uncertainty
  • Mechanics, Vibrations & Waves
  • Professional Skills and Basic Electronics I
  • Project
  • Quantum Physics and Structure of Matter

Year 2

Core modules
  • Atomic, Nuclear and Particle Physics 
  • Electromagnetism and Optics
  • Laboratory and Computing II
  • Mathematical Methods
  • Mathematics and Statistics of Measurement
  • Professional Skills II
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Solid State Physics
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics

Year 3

You study a combination of core and optional modules.

Core modules
  • Advanced Classical Physics
  • Comprehensive Physics
  • Fluid Dynamics
  • Light and Matter
  • Physics of the Universe
  • Professional Skills III
Essay/ Project

You choose one of the following:

  • Physics Essay III
  • Physics Project
Optional modules

You choose a majority of the optional modules from Group 1, and one each from Groups 2, 3 and 4.

Group 1
  • Astrophysics
  • Complexity and Networks
  • Computational Physics
  • Foundations of Quantum Mechanics
  • Group Theory
  • Lasers
  • Imaging and Biophotonics
  • Medical Imaging: X-Rays and Ultrasound
  • Medical Imaging: Nuclear Diagnostics and MRI
  • Plasma Physics
  • Principles of Instrumentation
  • Statistical Mechanics
Group 2
  • Environmental Physics
  • Sun, Stars and Planets
Group 3
  • Advanced Hydrodynamics
  • Advanced Particle Physics
  • Atmospheric Physics
  • Computational Neuroscience
  • Cosmology
  • General Relativity
  • Information Theory
  • Laser Technology
  • Nanotechnology in Consumer Electronics
  • Optical Communications 
  • Plasmonics and Metamaterials
  • Quantum Field Theory
  • Quantum Information
  • Quantum Optics
  • Quantum Theory of Matter
  • Space Physics
  • Unification
Group 4 - Humanities and Business

You choose one of the modules below to broaden your degree.


Year 4

The fourth year is the Master's yearYou have two core modules, preparing you to complete a research project in an area of interest, which involves substantial individual study.

Core modules
  • MSci Project
  • Research Interfaces
Optional modules

You choose a majority of modules from Group 1, and pick one module from Group 2.

Some of the modules listed below are available in both your third and fourth years, and you must choose different modules to those you studied in the year before.

Group 1
  • Advanced Particle Physics
  • Atmospheric Physics
  • Computational Neuroscience
  • Nanotechnology in Consumer Electronics
  • General Relativity
  • Advanced Hydrodynamics
  • Laser Technology
  • Optical Communications 
  • Information Theory
  • Plasmonics and Metamaterials
  • Quantum Field Theory
  • Quantum Information
  • Quantum Optics
  • Quantum Theory of Matter
  • Cosmology
  • Space Physics
  • Unification
Group 2
  • Astrophysics
  • Communicating Physics
  • Complexity and Networks
  • Computational Physics
  • Foundations of Quantum Mechanics
  • Group Theory
  • Imaging and Biophotonics
  • Lasers
  • Medical Imaging: Nuclear Diagnostics and MRI
  • Medical Imaging: X-Rays and Ultrasound
  • Plasma Physics
  • Principles of Instrumentation
  • Statistical Mechanics

 You also have the choice of modules from Imperial Horizons and the Business School within Group 2.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, laboratory classes and computing labs. You will be able to utilise the office hours of staff from the department to discuss your progress.

There will also be group and individual project work, ensure our degrees provide you with a strong set of additional skills, such as presentational and communicative skills.

Assessment

Our Physics degrees use a variety of assessment methods, the below list provides a guide to what you can expect:

  • Written examinations
  • Assessed problem sheets
  • Laboratory and project reports
  • Continuous assessments, e.g. essay writing
  • Group and individual presentations

Key Information Set (KIS)

Additional details about how this course is taught and assessed are provided in the KIS (Key Information Set).

The KIS is a set of statistics which all universities use to describe how their courses are taught and assessed. This allows students to compare similar courses at different institutions.

The KIS describes the percentage of time which students typically spend in timetabled activity and in independent study for each year of their course as well the percentage of assessment which is exams, coursework or practical. An overview of the KIS is shown in the widget at the bottom of the page and further detail (including a year-by-year breakdown) is available via unistats.

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis. If your qualifications are not listed here, please see the Department of Physics' website for information on a range of international qualifications.

A-levels

We require A*A*A overall, to include:

  • A* in Mathematics
  • A*/A in Physics
  • A*/A in another subject
Practical endorsement (practical science assessment)

If you are made an offer you will be required to achieve a pass in the practical endorsement in all science subjects that form part of the offer.

International Baccalaureate

We require a score of 39 points overall, to include:

  • 7, 6, 6 at higher level, which must include Mathematics and Physics

Other qualifications

We also welcome applications from candidates with Scottish Advanced Highers, the International, European and French Baccalaureates, the German Abitur and certain other qualifications giving university entrance in other countries. Please see the Department of Physics' website for details.

English language requirements (all candidates)

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for undergraduate applicants.

Selection process

If your UCAS application shows that you are suitable you will be invited for an interview. Because we receive many more excellent applications than we have places available, our interviews will involve some technical discussions so that we can assess candidates with similar academic records and predictions.

You will be given the opportunity to have lunch with our undergraduates, and you will meet with a member of the admissions team. This meeting will help you find out more about the course, our Department and College facilities, and social life in general.

It also gives us the chance to assess your suitability for the course, to learn about your interests and motivation, and to decide whether to offer you a place.

If you have not decided exactly which of the courses you want to apply for you can use the interview to discuss your choice with us. You will normally be able to see one of the labs and something of the research work.

Candidates who are unable (for travel reasons) to attend an interview will be assessed on the basis of their UCAS applications but we are keen to interview candidates whenever this is possible.

Tuition fees and funding

Home and EU students

2017 entry:

£9,250 per year

The UK government has confirmed that universities that have achieved a ‘meet expectations’ award – which includes Imperial – will, under the first year of the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), be able to raise their fees in 2017. The rise is an inflationary amount of 2.8% to a maximum of £9,250. The measure of inflation used is RPI-X (the retail price index, excluding mortgage interest payments). You should expect the fee to increase beyond 2017 for each year that your course lasts, subject to UK government regulations on fee increases.

The UK government has also confirmed that EU students starting or continuing their studies in the 2017–18 academic year will continue to pay the Home rate of tuition fees for the duration of their course. EU students will also remain eligible for the same government funding support as they are now, including the Tuition Fee Loan. This access to government funding will continue throughout your course, even if the UK exits the EU during this time. 

Islands and overseas students

2017 entry:

£27,000 per year

Please note that the tuition fee amount you will pay may increase each year.

Government funding

The level of tuition fees you pay is based on your fee status, which we assess based on UK government legislation. Find out more about fee status assessments.

Home and EU students (with the exception of Graduate Medicine students) can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan from the Government to cover the full cost of their fees each year.

Home students may also be eligible for a Maintenance Loan to help with their living costs.

Bursaries and scholarships

Imperial Bursary

The Imperial Bursary is available to any Imperial Home undergraduate student (except Graduate Medicine students) whose household income falls below £60,000 per year.

It is designed to ease the cost of London living by providing support on a sliding scale, from £2,000 up to £5,000 per year.

As long as your household income remains below £60,000 you will automatically qualify for a bursary for every year of undergraduate study.

The bursary is paid on top of any government loans to which you are entitled and does not need to be paid back. Find out more about the Imperial Bursary.

Scholarships

Our President’s Undergraduate scholarships are available to all undergraduate applicants studying an undergraduate degree for the first time who have applied to the College by 15 October.

They’re worth £1,000 for each undergraduate year of study. There are up to 112 awards available for students starting their studies in 2017–18.

A wide range of other scholarships is also available. Find out which scholarships you may be eligible for by using our scholarships search tool.

To find out more about the range of financial support available please see our Fees and Funding website.

How to apply

UCAS Apply system

To apply to study at Imperial you must use the online application system managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

The UCAS code for Imperial College London is I50.

Application deadlines

All applications which include choices for medicine at Imperial must be submitted to UCAS by 18.00 (UK time) on 15 October 2016 for entry in October 2017. 

The deadline for other courses at Imperial starting in 2017 is 18.00 (UK time) on 15 January 2017.

Students at a school/college registered with UCAS

All UK schools and colleges and a small number of EU and international institutions are registered with UCAS.

To make it clear which school or college you are applying from you will need to ask one of your teachers or advisers for the UCAS buzzword. You will need to enter this in UCAS’s Apply system when you register.

See our How to apply section for further guidance.

Independent applicants and students at schools/colleges not registered with UCAS

If you’re applying independently or from a school/college not registered with UCAS you will still need to use UCAS’s Apply system. You will not need a UCAS buzzword.

See our How to apply section for further guidance.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

An ATAS certificate is required for overseas students applying for this course.

Your Tier 4 visa application, or extension of stay, will automatically be refused if you need an ATAS certificate and cannot provide one.

For further guidance on obtaining an ATAS certificate please see the information on our International Student Support team website.

Tracking your application

Once you’ve completed your application and it’s been submitted through UCAS’s Apply system, you can use UCAS’ Track system to follow its progress and manage your choices.

Professional accreditation and associateship

Accreditation

All of our Physics degrees are accredited by the Institute of Physics.

Associateship

They also lead to the award of the Associateship of the Royal College of Science (ARCS).

What our graduates do

Imperial's Physics graduates are sought after by a wide range of employers – for example, the electronics industry needs physicists to design next-generation display technologies, lasers, optical fibres, and advanced semiconductor devices. Increasingly, the energy sector looks to physicists to improve photovoltiac cells for solar energy generation, to optimise wave and wind power technologies, and to improve the efficiency of electrical components.

Recent graduates of the Department have become:

  • Research Analyst, National Physical Laboratory
  • R&D Engineer, BBC
  • Technology Consultant, IBM
  • Graduate Trainee, European Space Agency
  • Software Engineer, Ocado Technology