Physics

Deepen your knowledge of physics with an integrated year of Master’s level study in this professionally accredited degree.

Key information

Award

MSci

Duration

4 years

full-time

Minimum entry

Three A-level offer: A* A* A

See full entry requirements

Applications : admissions ratio

6 : 1

Based on 2018 entry data

  • UCAS course code: F303
  • ECTS: 240
  • Start date: October 2020

Overview

Physics at Imperial covers a broad range of topics in both fundamental and applied physics.

All of our physics courses follow the same core curriculum for the first two years. This gives you a good grounding in physics, mathematics and experimental methods, and prepares you for advanced study in later years. Topics include:

  • Mathematics
  • Mechanics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Quantum physics
  • Relativity
  • Optics
  • Thermodynamics

A wide range of optional modules is available as you progress through the course, many of which are directly linked to the research of our nine internationally-recognised research groups so you’ll be learning at the very cutting edge of the subject. Research in our Department has contributed to ground-breaking discoveries in many different fields, from astrophysics to quantum optics and laser science.

This freedom to tailor the course to your interests allows you to continue with a broad physics education or specialise in a particular area such as theoretical physics or plasma physics. Current areas covered in year three include:

  • Astrophysics
  • Medical imaging
  • Plasma physics
  • Cosmology
  • Laser technology
  • X-rays and ultrasound
  • Nuclear diagnostics and MRI

All our courses include a substantial final-year project, usually within one of our research groups.

This course allows you to build on the BSc curriculum by completing an integrated year of study at Master’s level, including a module preparing you for the research environment.

Laboratory and computing work

Physics student in a labPractical work is an important part of the Physics curriculum at Imperial, and you will have access to state-of-the-art facilities as well as data collected from major experiments such as CERN.

Physics is a practical science and relies on data, so physicists need to understand how data is generated and how to analyse it. You will take laboratory classes to equip you with a wide range of skills such as using apparatus, conducting experiments, interpreting data, and presenting your results.

You will also gain a solid understanding of how to use computers as tools to help model and understand the physics of complicated phenomena. This includes using computers to make advanced calculations and analyse data, and how to use the programming language Python.

Transfer between courses

The high level of shared content in the first two years of our Physics degrees means that transfer to another degree within the Department is usually possible in the first two years.

  • To transfer onto the BSc or MSci with Theoretical Physics, you must take the appropriate mathematics module(s).
  • SeminarTransfer onto the Year Abroad degree must be done at the very start of your first year.
  • Students interested in the BSc or MSci Physics with Science Education should initially apply for any of the Department's other degrees (excluding Physics and Music Performance) and transfer at the end of their second year.

Please note there is no benefit in applying to multiple courses within the Department of Physics, and you should only apply to one course from this department.

If interviewed, you will have the opportunity to discuss your choice of degree and the potential to transfer on to another degree within the department.

If you are an international student, transferring to a different course could have an impact on your Tier 4 visa. Please visit our International Student Support webpage for further information.

Structure

Please note that the curriculum of this course is currently being reviewed as part of a College-wide process to introduce a standardised modular structure. As a result, the content and assessment structures of this course may change for your year of entry. We therefore recommend that you check this course page before finalising your application and after submitting it as we will aim to update this page as soon as any changes are ratified by the College.

Find out more about the limited circumstances in which we may need to make changes to or in relation to our courses, the type of changes we may make and how we will tell you about changes we have made.

Year 1

Core modules

  • Mechanics and Relativity
  • Oscillations and Waves
  • Practical Physics: Laboratory, Computing and Problem Solving
  • Statistics of Measurement and the Summer Project
  • Vector Fields, Electricity and Magnetism

Optional modules

  • Advanced Electronics
  • Mathematical Analysis

Year 2

Core modules

  • Advanced Practical Physics
  • Differential Equations and Electromagnetism
  • Quantum Physics
  • Thermal Physics and the Structure of Matter

Optional modules

You will choose two elective modules from below.

These modules are given as a guide to what you will be able to choose from.

  • Communicating Physics
  • Environmental Physics
  • Mathematical Methods
  • Suns, Stars and Planets

You will undertake one module through I-Explore, offering you choices from a wide range of subjects.

Year 3

Core modules

  • Comprehensives
  • Nuclear and Particle Physics
  • Solid State Physics
  • Third Year Physics Laboratory

Optional modules

These modules are given as a guide to what you will be able to choose from.

Some modules listed are also available in other years of study, and you may only study a module once.

  • Advanced Classical Physics
  • Astrophysics
  • Complexity and Networks
  • Computational Physics
  • Essay Project or Year 3 Project
  • Foundations of Quantum Mechanics
  • Group Theory
  • Lasers
  • Medical and Biological Imaging
  • Plasma Physics
  • Principles of Instrumentation
  • Statistical Mechanics

Year 4

Core modules

  • MSci Project
  • Research Interfaces

Optional modules

These modules are given as a guide to what you will be able to choose from.

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

  • Advanced Particle Physics
  • Atmospheric Physics
  • Concepts in Device Physics
  • Cosmology
  • Entrepreneurship for Physicists
  • General Relativity
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Information Theory
  • Introduction to Plasmonics and Metamaterials
  • Optical Communications Physics
  • Quantum Field Theory
  • Quantum Information
  • Quantum Optics
  • Quantum Theory of Matter
  • Space Physics
  • Space Physics
  • Unification - The Standard Model

I-Explore

Through I-Explore, you'll have the chance to deepen your knowledge in a brand new subject area, chosen from a huge range of for-credit modules.

All of our undergraduate courses will include one module from I-Explore's wide selection. The module you choose will be fully integrated into your course's curriculum and will count as credit towards your degree.

Find out more about I-Explore


Download the programme specification‌ [PDF] – this is the most up-to-date version available for this course. It may change for your year of entry. If/when changes to this course are approved by the College, we will update this document and the information on this course page.

Professional accreditation

This degree leads to a Master’s level qualification and is professionally accredited by the Institute of Physics.

Holders of accredited degrees can follow a route to Institute Membership and the CPhys professional qualification.

Achieving a professionally accredited degree demonstrates to employers that you have achieved an industry-recognised standard of competency. It also brings international recognition of your qualification, which is particularly useful for students preparing for a career abroad.

BSc or MSci?

As professionally accredited qualifications, our MSci Physics courses fully satisfy the academic requirement for professional registration as a Chartered Physicist (CPhys). This is a highly respected qualification earned by professionals working in physics, which can lead to higher earning potential and better career prospects.

Fully satisfying the academic requirements means that you won’t need to complete any further study on your route to gaining Chartered status after you graduate, although all CPhys applicants need to meet certain professional competence requirements.

Our BSc courses partially satisfy the academic requirements, which means that you would need to demonstrate that you had equivalent knowledge to an accredited integrated Master’s degree before you could register as a Chartered Physicist.

Our accreditation agreement with the Institute of Physics is renewed every five years.

The current accreditation agreement is due to be renewed for students starting their studies in the 2020–21 academic year. The Department expects to be accredited into the future.

Associateship

As well as your main Imperial degree, you will also receive the award of the Associateship of the Royal College of Science (ARCS) on completion of this course.

The Royal College of Science is one of three historic Colleges that came together to form Imperial College London in 1907.

Find out more about our Associateships.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, laboratory classes and computing labs. Staff office hours are also available to discuss your progress.

A group project and individual project work will provide you with a strong set of additional skills, including presentation and communication.

The expected total study time is 1,500 hours per year. While your actual contact hours may vary according to the optional modules you choose to study, the following gives an indication of how you will spend your time.

Teaching, independent study and placement hours

During the first two years, scheduled contact hours are envisaged to take up about half the time you work on the programme. This includes approximately 10-15 hours of lectures and tutorials and 6 hours of laboratory work per week.

The rest of the time is typically spent on independent learning, such as working on problem sheets, revising course material, writing lab reports and background reading.

From Year 3, the pattern of work depends on you chosen electives, but you can typically expect to spend about 250 hours over the year in lectures, tutorials and laboratory in Year 3 and in the final year about 120 hours in lectures, and about 600 hours on your research project, with the remaining time on independent learning.

Assessment

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

  • Computing reports and Laboratory reports
  • Mastery tests
  • Oral presentations and/or vivas
  • Poster presentations
  • Project reports
  • Progress tests and quizzes
  • Scientific writing exercises
  • Written examinations
  • Written problems

Assessment types

 Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Coursework 25% 20% 15% 35%
Practical 15% 10% 15% 20%
Written 60% 70% 70% 45%
Based on the typical pathway through the course; percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number
 

Staff expertise

At Imperial, you will be taught by a range of teachers of all levels from Professors to PhD students, including some who undertake groundbreaking research and are regarded as experts in their field.

You may also experience peer teaching and be taught by specialists external to the College.

Compare this course

See how this course compares with similar courses at different institutions using the Unistats information below.

You can use the Unistats website to find out how this course compares in areas such as student satisfaction and what our graduates are doing six months after completing this course.

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis – see selection process below.

For advice on the requirements for the qualifications listed here please contact the Department (see Contact us).

We also accept a wide range of international qualifications. If the requirements for your qualifications are not listed here, please see our academic requirements by country page for guidance on which qualifications we accept.

A-levels

Minimum entry standards

Our minimum entry standard for 2020 entry is A*A*A overall, to include:

  • A* in Mathematics
  • A*/A in Physics
  • A*/A in a third subject

General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.


Typical offer range

As a guide, here are the typical offers made in 2017-18 to at least 80% of applicants studying A-levels:

Three A-level offer: A*A*A


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.


Additional Mathematics support

Our new A-level Mathematics online course covers a range of key topic areas to help you gain a deeper understanding of the skills and techniques required to succeed in your A-level Mathematics exams.

This optional course has been built around the A-level syllabus with the aim of developing your thinking skills, fluency and confidence.

Please note: this course is not compulsory and does not form part of the entry requirements for this course. It is available free of charge via the EdX website. It is self-paced so you can start it at any time.

International Baccalaureate

Minimum entry standards

Our minimum entry standard for 2020 entry is 39 points overall, to include:

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

Typical offer range

As a guide, the typical offer made in 2017-18 to at least 80% of applicants studying IB was 40-41 points overall.


Mathematics Higher Level for award in 2021

For entry in 2021, the Mathematics Analysis and Approaches or the Applications and Interpretation syllabi will be accepted at higher level, but Analysis and Approaches is preferred.


Additional Mathematics support

We have recently launched an A-level Mathematics online course, which is available free of charge via the EdX website.

Although this optional course has been built around the A-level syllabus, it is relevant to your curriculum too.

Please note: this course is not compulsory and does not form part of the entry requirements for this course. It is self-paced so you can start it at any time.

Advanced Placements

Our minimum requirement for this course is grades 5, 5, 5, 5 to include:

  • 5 in Calculus BC
  • 5 in Physics C Electricity and Magnetism
  • 5 in Physics C Mechanics
  • 5 in Chemistry, Statistics, Computer Science, Macro or Micro Economics

Additional Mathematics support

We have recently launched an A-level Mathematics online course, which is available free of charge via the EdX website.

Although this optional course has been built around the A-level syllabus, it is relevant to your curriculum too.

Please note: this course is not compulsory and does not form part of the entry requirements for this course. It is self-paced so you can start it at any time.

Selection process

Assessing your application

Admissions Tutors consider all the evidence available during our rigorous selection process and the College flags key information providing assessors with a more complete picture of the educational and social circumstances relevant to the applicant.

Some applicants may be set lower offers and some more challenging ones. It is the College’s policy to not make offers below three A’s at A-level in relevant subjects, 38 IB points with at least a grade 6 at higher level in relevant subjects, or their equivalent.

A typical range of offers made by this Department in 2017-18 (encompassing at least 80% of applicants who studied A-level or IB) is shown above.


Post-application interview day

If your UCAS application indicates that you are likely to satisfy our requirements you will be invited for one of our post-application interview days with a member of our academic staff.

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 have the chance to have lunch with our undergraduates. You will also meet with a member of the admissions team. This meeting is an opportunity to 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 our 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 some of our research work.

Candidates who are unable (for travel reasons) to attend an interview will be assessed solely on the basis of their UCAS application. However we are keen to interview candidates wherever possible.


Pilot admissions schemes (Home students)

From 2020 entry, we will be using information about our applicants in a number of new pilot admissions schemes, to consider the wider context of Home students from groups underrepresented at the College.

Find out more

Foundation programmes

A foundation course is a one-year preparation course, designed for international students, which leads to undergraduate programmes in the UK. Foundation programmes are normally for school-leavers who have studied a non-British curriculum but wish to pursue a degree at a UK university.

Foundation programmes are offered by many UK universities, but only two would be considered for entry to Imperial: 

  1. UCL’s Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Science and Engineering (UPCSE), and 
  2. Warwick’s International Foundation Programme (IFP) in Science & Engineering

UCL UPCSE

A year-long programme for international students whose school leaving qualifications do not allow them direct entry to UK universities. Students must complete four modules across the year – two compulsory and two elective modules:

ModuleStatus
Research and Academic Skills: Science and Society Compulsory
Academic English Compulsory
Biology Elective
Chemistry Elective
Mathematics Elective
Physics Elective
Information correct at time of publishing, but subject to change
Summary of the table's contents

To be considered for admission to Physics, international students studying UCL UPCSE must achieve:

  • 70% overall
  • 80% Mathematics
  • 80% Physics

Warwick IFP Science and Engineering

A year-long programme for international students whose school leaving qualifications do not allow them direct entry to UK universities. 

To be considered for admission to Physics, international students studying Warwick IFP Science and Engineering must achieve:

  • 70% overall
  • 80% Mathematics
  • 80% Physics

To meet these requirements, students should choose from the following IFP pathways:

  • Engineering
  • Physical Sciences

English language requirement (all applicants)

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 higher 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.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

An ATAS certificate is required for all Non-EEA/Swiss nationals who require a visa to study in the UK.

To apply for an ATAS certificate online, you will need your programme details and the relevant Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH) code and ‘descriptor’. For this course, these are:

CAH codeDescriptor
CAH07-01-01 physics

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 website.

Tuition fees and funding

We charge tuition fees for every year that your course lasts. The fee you will be charged is based on your fee status, which is determined by government regulations.

Tuition fees (Home and EU students)

2020 entry
£9,250 per year

Please note that the fee you pay may increase annually by an amount linked to inflation and approved by Parliament under the Student Fees (Inflation Index) Regulations 2006 – currently the measure of inflation used is the RPIX.

Government funding

If you're a Home student, you can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan from the UK government to cover the entire cost of tuition for every year of your course.

You can also apply for a means-tested Maintenance Loan to help towards your living costs.

EU/EEA students

The UK government has confirmed that EU/EEA students starting at the College in the 2020-21 academic year will continue to pay the Home rate of tuition for the duration of their course. This includes access to the Tuition Fee Loan for EU students who have resided in the European Economic Area for at least three years prior to study, and access to the Maintenance Loan for EU students have been resident in the UK for at least five years.

For the latest updates on the implications of ‘Brexit’, please see the Imperial and the European Union webpages.

Tuition fees (Overseas and Islands students)

2020 entry
£33,000 per year

You should expect and budget for your tuition fee increasing each year by an amount tied to inflation. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts. For example, the RPI value in April 2019 will apply to fees for the academic year 2019–2020.

Accommodation and living costs

Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.

Over 90 per cent of Imperial undergraduates choose to live in our halls of residence in their first year. You can compare costs across our different accommodation options on our Accommodation website.

A rough guide to what you might expect to spend to live in reasonable comfort in London is available on our Fees and Funding website.

Careers

As a Physics graduate from the College, you will be highly sought after by employers. About half of our graduates go on to postgraduate-level study if you decide to pursue further study after your degree.

Your degree will provide you with the chance to develop a broad range of professional skills, helping to prepare you for life after university. Your analytical and problem-solving skills will be highly sought after in a range of industries, from ‘technical’ industries, such as oil and gas, to telecommunications, consultancy, banking, finance, to the sectors such as education, health, or defence

Whether you’re certain of what you want to do after graduation, or if you simply have no idea at this stage, this physics degree will help keep your options open.

Recent graduates of the Department have become:

  • Research Analyst, National Physical Laboratory
  • Operational Researcher, Department of Energy and Climate Change
  • Research Engineer, A*STAR, Singapore
  • Systems Engineer, BAE Systems
  • Innovations Analyst, Carbon Trust

How to apply

UCAS key information

  • UCAS course code: F303
  • UCAS institution code: I50

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).

You can view this course on the UCAS website.

Application deadlines

All applications, other than those which include choices for medicine at Imperial, must be submitted to UCAS by 18.00 (UK time) on 15 January 2020 for entry in October 2020.

The deadline for medicine courses at Imperial starting in 2020 is 18.00 (UK time) on 15 October 2019.

Tracking your application

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

See our How to apply section for further guidance.

You may also be interested in the following related departments and the courses they offer:

Contact us

Physics lecturer

Got a question?

Mery Fajardo
T: +44 (0)20 7594 7513
E: ph.admissions@imperial.ac.uk

Read more on the Department of Physics website.

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