Physics

Focus on theoretical physics, with more mathematics and less emphasis on experimental work, in this professionally accredited degree.

Key information

Award

BSc

Duration

3 years

full-time

Minimum entry

Three A-level offer: A* A* A

See full entry requirements

Applications : admissions ratio

7 : 1

Based on 2020 entry data

  • UCAS course code: F325
  • ECTS: 180
  • Start date: October 2022
Apply on UCAS

Overview

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

This course is ideally suited to those with a specific interest in mathematics and its application, and places less emphasis on experimental work than our standard Physics courses.

You will follow a similar curriculum to the standard Physics courses for the first two years, covering key topics such as electromagnetism, relativity and quantum physics. As a Theoretical Physics student, you will take an extra mathematics module in both years in place of a physics module.

This core programme provides you with a good grounding in physics, mathematics and experimental methods, and prepares you for advanced study.

In your final year you will have greater flexibility to specialise, with a wide choice of theoretical optional modules in areas such as group theory, general relativity and quantum field theory. You will also have the chance to complete a substantial project on a theoretical physics topic in one of our research groups.

Many of our modules are directly linked to our research 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.

Laboratory and computing work

Practical 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).
  • Transfer onto the Year Abroad degree must be done at the very start of your first 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 you are made an offer, 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 student visa. Please visit our International Student Support webpage for further information.

Structure

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 them.

Year 1

Core modules

  • Mathematical Analysis
  • 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

Year 2

Core modules

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

Optional modules

You will choose one module from below.

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

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

You will take one I-Explore module, offering you choices from a wide range of subject areas.

Year 3

Core modules

  • Advanced Classical Physics
  • Comprehensives
  • Nuclear and Particle Physics
  • Solid State Physics

Project or essay

You will choose one of the following:

  • Essay Project
  • Year 3 Project

Optional modules

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

  • Advanced Particle Physics1
  • Astrophysics1
  • Atmospheric Physics
  • Complexity and Networks1
  • Computational Physics1
  • Concepts in Device Physics
  • Cosmology
  • Entrepreneurship for Physicists
  • Foundations of Quantum Mechanics1
  • General Relativity1
  • Group Theory1
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Information Theory
  • Introduction to Plasmonics and Metamaterials
  • Laser Technology
  • Lasers
  • Medical and Biological Imaging
  • Optical Communications Physics
  • Plasma Physics
  • Principles of Instrumentation
  • Quantum Field Theory1
  • Quantum Information1
  • Quantum Optics
  • Quantum Theory of Matter1
  • Space Physics
  • Statistical Mechanics1
  • Unification - The Standard Model1

1 The modules marked (1) are theoretical modules and will make up the majority of your choices


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.


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

Find out more about I-Explore

Professional accreditation

Accreditation for this degree is due to be renewed for 2022 entry, having been accredited from 2015 to 2021. The Department expects to be successful in seeking re-accredditaion by the Institute of Physics (IOP).

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 BSc Physics courses partially 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.

Partially satisfying the academic requirements means that you will need to demonstrate that you have knowledge equivalent to an accredited integrated Master’s degree on your route to gaining Chartered status after you graduate.

Our MSci courses fully satisfy the academic requirement, meaning you will not need to complete any further study, though all CPhys applicants need to meet certain professional competence requirements.

Our accreditation agreement with the Institute of Physics is renewed every five years, however due to Covid-19 was extended to include a sixth year for 2020-21. The current accreditation agreement is due to be renewed for students starting their studies in the 2021-22 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.

In Year 3, the pattern of work depends on you chosen electives, but you can typically expect to spend about 200 hours over the year in face-to-face sessions such as lectures, tutorials and supervision meetings, with the rest on project work and 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 3
Coursework 25% 20% 25%
Practical 15% 10% 5%
Written 60% 70% 70%
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.

Discover Uni compares things like student satisfaction and what graduates do after they finish the 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 2022 entry is A*A*A overall, to include:

  • A* in Mathematics
  • A*/A in Physics
  • A*/A in a third subject (Further Mathematics is recommended, but not essential)

Chemistry, although not essential, is considered to be a useful third subject for developing knowledge and understanding of the course.

General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.


Typical offer range

As a guide, here are the typical offers made to at least 80% of A-level applicants for 2020 entry:

  • 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 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 2022 entry is 40 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 to at least 80% of IB applicants for 2020 entry was 40-41 points overall.


Mathematics Higher Level for award in 2022

For entry in 2022, 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 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 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.


Admissions test

An admissions test will be held as part of the selection process. Details of the test will be made available later on this page.


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.

More about pilot admissions schemes

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

Contextual admissions

We want to make sure that the Imperial learning community is as diverse as the society we serve. So to make our admissions process as fair as possible, we have introduced admissions schemes for Home students that allow us to consider your application in the full context of any additional barriers you may face.

Find out if you meet the eligibility criteria for our contextual admissions schemes. 

This department will make you a guaranteed offer if you have predicted grades that meet the minimum College entry standard of AAA at A-level or an equivalent level qualification and you demonstrate motivation to study the specific subject area.

Read more about the contextual admissions scheme in this department and others.

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 not required for overseas students who apply for this course.

For more information about the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS), please see the International Student Support website.

View our terms and conditions on visas.

Competence standards

Our competence standards highlight the core skills students should be able to demonstrate by the end of this course.

View the Department of Physics' competence standards [PDF]

We believe in providing the widest practicable access to all of our degree programmes and will make reasonable adjustments wherever possible to support your study. For more information, please contact the Department using the contact details below.

Department of Physics

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

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.

Home rate of tuition

2022 entry

The fee for Home students is controlled by the UK government. It has not been confirmed for the 2022-23 academic year.

As a guide, the Home rate of tuition for the 2021-22 academic year was £9,250.

For each subsequent year, you should expect and budget for your tuition fee to increase by an amount in line with inflation. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPIX) value, taken from April in the calendar year in which the academic session starts.

For example, the RPIX value in April 2022 will apply to fees for the academic year 2022–2023.

Fee status

Whether you pay the Home fee depends on your fee status.

Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status.

Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

EU/EEA/Swiss students

The Government has confirmed that EU/EEA/Swiss students who begin a course before the 31 July 2021 will be eligible to pay the same fee as Home students and have access to student finance for the duration of their course, as long as they meet certain requirements which are unchanged from previous years. This includes students who begin the course remotely.

EU/EEA/Swiss students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note we do not expect this to apply to Irish students or students benefitting from Citizens' rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively. However, we are currently awaiting the formal publication of the amended Fees and Awards regulations.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website has useful information on the conditions you currently need to meet to be entitled to pay tuition fees at the Home rate for study on a higher education course in England and reflect the regulations as they currently stand (not the amended regulations which are subject to publication). 

UKCISA has also provided some information in response to Questions for students starting their course from the 1 August 2021.

For regular updates for EU students, please see our Imperial and the EU webpages.

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.

 

Overseas rate of tuition

2022 entry

The fee for Overseas students is controlled by the College. It has not been confirmed for the 2022–23 academic year.

As a guide, the Overseas rate of tuition for the 2021–22 academic year was £34,500.

For each subsequent year, you should expect and budget for your tuition fee to increase by an amount in line with inflation. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPIX) value, taken from April in the calendar year in which the academic session starts. For example, the RPIX value in April 2022 will apply to fees for the academic year 2022–2023.

Fee status

Whether you pay the Overseas fee depends on your fee status.

Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status.

Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

EU/EEA/Swiss students

The Government has confirmed that EU/EEA/Swiss students who begin a course before the 31 July 2021 will be eligible to pay the same fee as Home students and have access to student finance for the duration of their course, as long as they meet certain requirements which are unchanged from previous years. This includes students who begin the course remotely.

EU/EEA/Swiss students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note we do not expect this to apply to Irish students or students benefitting from Citizens' rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively. However, we are currently awaiting the formal publication of the amended Fees and Awards regulations.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website has useful information on the conditions you currently need to meet to be entitled to pay tuition fees at the Home rate for study on a higher education course in England and reflect the regulations as they currently stand (not the amended regulations which are subject to publication). 

UKCISA has also provided some information in response to Questions for students starting their course from the 1 August 2021.

For regular updates for EU students, please see our Imperial and the EU webpages.

Accommodation and living costs

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

Most Imperial undergraduates choose to live in our halls of residence in their first year. You can compare costs across different accommodation options.

Read our rough guide to university spending in London.

Careers

As a Physics graduate from the College, you will be highly sought after by employers. Many of our graduates go on to study a higher degree – either a Master’s degree, or straight to a PhD and a career in academic research.

Outside academia, our Physics graduates are sought after by a wide range of employers – from the electronics industry where they help design next-generation technologies, to the astrophysics and space technology industry where they’re needed to analyse space objects.

Recent graduates of the Department have become:

  • Scientific Officer, Civil Service
  • Data Scientist, Cyber risk modelling and prediction platform
  • Nuclear Safety Engineer, EDF Energy
  • Technology Analyst, Goldman Sachs
  • Aerospace Engineer, Rolls-Royce

How to apply

UCAS key information

  • UCAS course code: F325
  • UCAS institution code: I50
Apply on UCAS

Apply on UCAS

You can start and track your application on UCAS Hub. There you can add this course as one of your choices.

Application deadlines

26 January 2022 at 18.00 (UK time).

If your application includes a medicine course, the deadline is 15 October 2021 at 18.00 (UK time).

Any questions?

You can read our guidance on how to apply. You can also find answers to your questions about admissionsAnswers cover COVID-19, English language requirements, Visas and more.

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

Connect with us

Physics student

Have a question?

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

Department of Physics

The Queen's Tower on our South Kensington Campus

Sign up for our newsletter

Receive regular updates with useful information about studying with us. 

A woman working in a laboratory

Download a prospectus

Find more information about our courses and life at Imperial. 

Explore Imperial

A person presenting at an event

Events, tasters and talks

Meet us and find out more about studying at Imperial.

Find an event

A 360 view of the Queen's Lawn

Take a virtual tour

Explore our South Kensington Campus and our halls of residence from your home. 

Take a tour

Two students talking to each other

Chat with our students

Have your questions answered by real Imperial students. 

Chat now

Terms and conditions

There are some important pieces of information you should be aware of when applying to universities. We've put together this information in a dedicated section of our website.Makerspace

Read our terms and conditions for these areas: