BSc Hons Physics

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Key facts

  • UCAS Code: F300
  • Accreditation: Institute of Physics
  • Opportunity to undertake a summer industrial placement

Study with us

Studying a BSc (Hons) Physics at the University of Strathclyde, you'll be learning at an award-winning academic institution - the only University to have won the Times Higher Education University of the Year award twice (2012 and 2019).

  • develop skills that will enable you to become a successful physicist and maximise your career options
  • computational physics is embedded in the first three years of the degree
  • learn from academics at the forefront of their research field
  • opportunity to undertake a summer industrial placement

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Why this course?

Our BSc (Hons) Physics degree covers a wide range of topics in physics and modern physical principles. You’ll develop core skills in mathematics and physics that will allow you to gain an understanding of the fundamental aspects of physics.

Training in laboratories is complemented by a research project carried out in an up-to-date research lab, attached to one of the Department’s research groups. This allows you to benefit from our lively and diverse research environment.

Accreditation

Our BSc in Physics is accredited by the Institute of Physics for the purpose of fully meeting the educational requirement for Chartered Physicist.

Quadropole in physics lab.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner

What you'll study

Year 1

All classes are compulsory and you'll study the foundations of physics. Classes will cover mathematics, mechanics and waves, electromagnetism and quantum physics. You'll undertake practical work in the teaching laboratory. In addition to this, you'll also be introduced to the programming language Python and start to learn the basis of computational physics. You will also develop your study and communication skills, and interact with the careers service to develop your employability skills.

Year 2

All classes are compulsory and will increase your understanding of physics and mathematics topics developed in first year. You'll extend your knowledge of scientific computing and the laboratory work becomes more sophisticated, recognising your growing maturity as a physicist. You will further develop your study and communication skills, and again interact with the careers service to extend your employability skills.

Year 3

In addition to extending your study of quantum physics and electromagnetism you will be introduced to new topics centred on solid state physics, and gases and liquids and the fundamentals of thermodynamics. All students undertake some laboratory work in Year 3, aimed at further developing your laboratory skills in readiness for the fourth-year project. You can also choose from optional modules that are designed to enhance your communication skills, mathematical physics techniques, or computational skills.  

Year 4

You’ll undertake a project in research labs supervised by a member of staff in the department. You can select optional classes from topics as diverse as nanoscience, photonics through to enhanced quantum physics.

Industrial placements

We recognise the key links between physics and industry and many start-up companies and SMEs in Scotland owe their existence to physics-based ideas.

This is why we offer our students the chance to undertake an industrial placement during the break between either Year 3 and Year 4 or Year 4 and Year 5.

These placements are offered on a competitive basis.

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Course content

Experimental Physics (20 credits)

This module is an introduction to working in a laboratory environment. You'll learn how to design and undertake simple experiments related to the taught components of the first-year physics curriculum. By the end of the course you will be able to write a formal report, perform simple uncertainty analysis, make dimensional analysis of physical systems, and perform simple data analysis with Python.

Mechanics & Waves (20 credits)

This module will provide you with an understanding of motion of simple mechanical systems, gravitation and simple harmonic motion. You'll also learn about the fundamentals of wave propagation and the superposition of waves as well simple optical phenomena such as diffraction.

Quantum Physics & Electromagnetism (20 credits)

This module is designed to introduce you to quantum mechanics and electromagnetism. It highlights experimental observations that resulted in the development of quantum mechanics, such as the photoelectric effect and blackbody radiation. In terms of electromagnetism, you'll cover basic electrostatics and magnetostatics and develop an understanding of Maxwell’s equations and the Lorentz force law.

Mathematics (40 credits)

We will introduce you to the mathematics necessary to support the physics curriculum. The modules will cover topics ranging from differentiation and integration, complex numbers, an introduction to linear algebra and vectors. You will learn how to apply your mathematical knowledge to related problems in physics.

Computational & Physics Skills (20 credits)

This module will introduce you to the Python programming language and you will start to use Python to write simple programmes to model physical systems. You will also develop your study and communication skills, and interact with the careers service to develop your employability skills. This module will involve a group project.

Experimental Physics (20 credits)

This module is an extension of Experimental Physics from year 1. You'll undertake more complex experiments that are related to the taught components of the second-year curriculum. You'll see the statistical origin for experimental uncertainties.

Mechanics, Optics & Waves (20 credits)

This module builds on Mechanics and Waves from year 1. You'll be introduced to special relativity, the vector treatment of rotational motion and the behaviour of systems when forced to oscillate. To extend your understanding of wave phenomena you'll be introduced to the wave equation, Fresnel and Fraunhofer diffraction, interference, geometrical optics, and the operation of lasers.

Quantum Physics & Electromagnetism (20 credits)

This module builds on the material you learned in year 1. You'll be introduced to the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics, including wave particle duality and Heisenberg uncertainty principle. You'll learn about AC theory, covering inductors, capacitors and transmission lines. You’ll extend your knowledge of Maxwell’s equations to develop a vector model of electromagnetism and the theory of the plane electromagnetic wave in vacuum.

Mathematics (40 credits)

The topics covered in these modules will extend the mathematics seen in first year. You will cover many different topics including probability distributions, ordinary and partial differential equations, Fourier series and transforms, linear algebra, and complex variables. You will learn how to solve problems relating to the topics covered in your physics modules and build appropriate physical models.

Computational & Physics Skills (20 credits)

In this module you will build on the Python programming seen in year 1 and be introduced to a range of computational techniques that will make modelling and solving physical system straightforward. Again there will be a group project which will be used to enhance your skills and there will be further interactions with the Careers Service to enhance your employability skills.

Quantum Physics & Electromagnetism (20 credits)

Building on what you learned in year 2, this module will extend your understanding of quantum mechanics. We'll introduce operators, expectation values and commutation relationships, and advanced concepts like time independent perturbation theory. In electromagnetism you will exploring the wave like nature of electromagnetism as predicted by Maxwell's equations, Poynting’s theorem, reflection and transmission at a dielectric interface, potentials and gauge transformations, and retarded potentials.

Condensed Matter Physics (20 credits)

Here you'll cover binding forces in solids, bulk material properties, phonons and other forms of collective excitations, crystal structure, elementary concepts of band structure, semi-conductors, magnetic materials and the origins of magnetism, and superconductors.

Gases, Liquids & Thermodynamics (20 credits)

This module covers the physics of gases and liquids and the fundamentals of thermodynamics. This includes the ideal gas law, hydrostatics, isothermal and adiabatic processes, and the laws of thermodynamics. We also present the basic principles of statistical mechanics, and various distributions such as Maxwellian, Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein.

Choose either Experimental Physics I or Experimental Physics II, below.

Experimental Physics I (40 credits)

This module extends the laboratory work developed in years 1 and 2 and involves experiments covering a range of topics relevant to the 3rd year Physics UG taught syllabus. The laboratory work is open ended so you're able to fully explore the experiments in preparation for the final year project. You will develop advanced measurement, data recording and analysis skills and learn how to report experimental outcomes in the form of a journal paper. This module covers 4 experiments.

Experimental Physics II (20 credits)

This module extends the laboratory work developed in years 1 and 2 and involves experiments covering a range of topics relevant to the 3rd year Physics UG taught syllabus. The laboratory work is open ended so you're able to fully explore the experiments in preparation for the final year project. You will develop advanced measurement, data recording and analysis skills and learn how to report experimental outcomes in the form of a journal paper. This module covers 2 experiments.

Optional modules:

If you choose Experimental Physics I then you are required to choose one optional module and if you choose Experimental Physics II then you are required to choose two optional modules from the following:

Communicating Physics (20 credits)

This module will develop your knowledge base and transferable skills in preparation for the project undertaken in years 4 and 5 of the course. It focuses on effective and concise communication of complex information through oral, written and graphical presentations, literature and group-work skills.

Computational Physics (20 credits)

During this module, you’ll be introduced to the best practises in software development, and the numerical methods that are most commonly used to solve physical problems including linear algebra, partial, ordinary and stochastic differential equations, and Fourier methods.

Mathematical Physics (20 credits)

This module focuses on introducing new techniques in mathematical physics. You will develop your problem-solving skills through a series of challenging tutorial problems addressing advanced problems both from the topics addressed in this module and from the other core third year modules including quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics and thermal physics, solid state physics and electrodynamics. You will gain an appreciation for how advanced mathematical techniques can be used to aid in solving challenging physics problems and become proficient in applying the techniques you will learn to solve more advanced and previously unseen problems.

Physics project (40 credits)

The aim of this module is to help you develop as an enquiring, independent physicist, by undertaking a research project. You'll be under the supervision of a member of staff from the department.

Plus four Optional classes from:

Topics in Physics (20 credits)

Here you'll be introduced to state-of-the-art developments in generation and use of charged particles in various forms such as free electron beams, plasmas and astrophysical plasmas. This will include basic plasma physics theory (particle orbit theory, fluid equations, ideal and magnetohydrodynamics, wave equations and kinetic theory), electron optics and electron microscopes, free electron devices and radiation sources. You will also look at the history and geography of our galactic environment, red giants, white dwarfs, supernovae, neutron stars, black holes and physics of the Big Bang.

Topics in Solid State Physics (20 credits)

Here you'll track the development of key concepts in solid state physics and how these concepts can be exploited to form functional optical and electronic devices. You will look at the chemistry and physics of crystalline and amorphous materials, with a focus on semiconductor materials, optical activity in solid-state materials, the interaction of semiconductors with light, transistors (bipolar and unipolar), quantum wells and microstructured materials.

Topics in Nanoscience (20 credits)

This module will provide an overview of modern nanoscience. It will discuss basic physics related to low dimensional nanostructures and nanoclusters, nanofabrication including top-down and bottom up approaches, characteristics techniques including electron spectroscopy and microscopy, scanning probe microscopy, and optical spectroscopy and microscopy. Noble metal nanoparticles, quantum dots, carbon nanomaterials will be introduced. In particular it will cover the physical and chemical properties of nanoparticles, their production, applications in physics, chemistry and medicine along with issues relating to nanotoxicity and the ethics of medical nanoscience.

Topics in Photonics (20 credits)

During this module you'll gain an insight into laser physics, laser optics and nonlinear optics as used in many photonic laboratories. This will include properties of laser radiation, beam propagation and ray transfer matrices, nonlinear polarization, and second and third order nonlinear effects such as second harmonic generation and the optical Kerr effect.

Topics in Complex and Nonlinear Systems (20 credits)

During this module you will learn about simple systems that exhibit non-linear and complex behaviour. You will find how to analyse non-linear systems and find stationary points, learn to analyse bifurcation diagrams and identify key features on these diagrams, look at periodic solutions to non-linear systems and recognise oscillations, and key features of these oscillations, and understand the origin of deterministic chaos and explain key features relating to chaos.

Topics in Theoretical Physics (20 credits)

In this module we’ll demonstrate the large-scale structure of space-time. You will develop the necessary mathematical concepts (4-vectors, the metric tensor, covariant derivatives, connection coefficients and the Riemann curvature tensor) and use them to derive Einstein's gravitational field equation and look at idealized cosmological solutions for the large-scale structure of the universe, including the standard model. You will study gravitational collapse and the properties of black holes.

Topics in Quantum Physics (20 credits)

This module will provide a broad foundation in concepts and techniques from quantum mechanics, and provide experience in the practical application of these techniques to describing state-of-the-art experiments and quantum technologies.

Topics in Atomic, Molecular & Nuclear Physics (20 credits)

This module aims to give a general overview and understanding of atomic and molecular physics and relate these to practical applications and related fields of study. You will learn about optical selection rules, atomic structure, and atom-light interactions, and applications such as Atomic Clocks; Laser Cooling; Ion Traps; Magnetic Trapping; Optical Trapping; Quantum Degenerate Gases; Atom Interferometry; Laser frequency calibration and combs. In molecular physics you will learn about: Diatomic molecules; Rotational Modes; Vibrational Modes; Symmetries and Selection Rules.

Applied High Performance Computing (20 credits)

This module provides an up-to-date introduction to High Performance Computing (HPC) and the use of modern parallel computers to tackle the most demanding problems in science in general and Physics in particular. It provides an overview of the basic building blocks of High-Performance Computers and how they can be utilised effectively. The practical use of HPC will be demonstrated using application examples drawn from several areas of relevance to 4th year modules offered by the Department.

Learning & teaching

Teaching methods include lectures, tutorials, interactive learning using both personal response systems and web-based teaching resources, directed laboratory work, group-based learning and self-paced project work.

Assessment

Assessment methods include exams, continuous assessment, written reports, moderated peer assessment in tutorials and workshops, talks and poster sessions.

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Entry requirements

Entry requirements are for September 2023 entry.

Required subjects are shown in brackets.

Highers

Standard entry requirements*:

AABB/ ABBBB

(Physics B, Mathematics B)

Minimum entry requirements**:

BBBB

(Physics B, Mathematics B)

A Levels

Standard entry requirements*:

BBB

(Physics B, Mathematics B)

International Baccalaureate

Standard entry requirements*:

Year 1 entry: 30
(Physics HL5, Mathematics HL5)

Year 2 entry: 32
(Physics HL6, Mathematics HL6)

HNC/HND

Considered on an individual basis; contact us for advice.

International students

View the entry requirements for your country.

Deferred entry

Accepted

Additional information

  • in sixth year it is advisable to take both Advanced Higher Physics and Mathematics

*Standard entry requirements

Offers are made in accordance with specified entry requirements although admission to undergraduate programmes is considered on a competitive basis and entry requirements stated are normally the minimum level required for entry.

Whilst offers are made primarily on the basis of an applicant meeting or exceeding the stated entry criteria, admission to the University is granted on the basis of merit, and the potential to succeed. As such, a range of information is considered in determining suitability.

In exceptional cases, where an applicant does not meet the competitive entry standard, evidence may be sought in the personal statement or reference to account for performance which was affected by exceptional circumstances, and which in the view of the judgement of the selector would give confidence that the applicant is capable of completing the programme of study successfully.

**Minimum entry requirements

Find out if you can benefit from this type of offer.

Widening access

We want to increase opportunities for people from every background. Strathclyde selects our students based on merit, potential and the ability to benefit from the education we offer. We look for more than just your grades. We consider the circumstances of your education and will make lower offers to certain applicants as a result.

Find out if you can benefit from this type of offer.

Degree preparation course for international students

We offer international students (non-EU/UK) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for an undergraduate degree at Strathclyde the option of completing an Undergraduate Foundation year programme at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre.

Upon successful completion, you'll be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

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Fees & funding

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.

Fees may be subject to updates to maintain accuracy. Tuition fees will be notified in your offer letter.

All fees are in £ sterling, unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to revision.

Annual revision of fees

Students on programmes of study of more than one year should be aware that tuition fees are revised annually and may increase in subsequent years of study. Annual increases will generally reflect UK inflation rates and increases to programme delivery costs.

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Scotland

2023/24: TBC

Fees for students who meet the relevant residence requirements in Scotland are subject to confirmation by the Scottish Funding Council. Scottish undergraduate students undertaking an exchange for a semester/year will continue to pay their normal tuition fees at Strathclyde and will not be charged fees by the overseas institution.

England, Wales & Northern Ireland

£9,250*

*Assuming no change in fees policy over the period, the total amount payable by undergraduate students will be capped. For students commencing study in 2023/24, this is capped at £27,750 (with the exception of the MPharm and integrated Masters programmes), MPharm students pay £9,250 for each of the four years. Students studying on integrated Masters degree programmes pay an additional £9,250 for the Masters year with the exception of those undertaking a full-year industrial placement where a separate placement fee will apply.

International

£22,450

University preparation programme fees

International students can find out more about the costs and payments of studying a university preparation programme at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre.

Additional costs

Course materials & costs:

At present, the department provides free electronic access for up to three years to the recommended textbook for first year physics. All core module material is available on MyPlace for students to download.

Visa & immigration:

International students may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information.

Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Please note: All fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

Rosie Braunholtz, Physics student
Strathclyde is one of the best in Scotland for physics and it is also one of the best research universities in the UK.
Rosie Braunholtz

How can I fund my studies?

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Students from Scotland

Fees for students who meet the relevant residence requirements in Scotland, you may be able to apply to the Student Award Agency Scotland (SAAS) to have your tuition fees paid by the Scottish government. Scottish students may also be eligible for a bursary and loan to help cover living costs while at University.

For more information on funding your studies have a look at our University Funding page.

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Students from England, Wales & Northern Ireland

We have a generous package of bursaries on offer for students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales:

You don’t need to make a separate application for these. When your place is confirmed at Strathclyde, we’ll assess your eligibility. Have a look at our scholarship search for any more funding opportunities.

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International Students

We have a number of scholarships available to international students. Take a look at our scholarship search to find out more.

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 100 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

Map of the world.

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Careers

Throughout our Physics BSc course, you’ll develop skills that will help you become a successful physicist and maximise your career options.

Our graduates find work anywhere from research and development to production and management in every field of science and industry. Some work as medical physicists and environmental physicists, others as petroleum engineers, patent officers as well as research scientists.

Where are they now?

Recent job titles include:*

  • Laser Systems Engineer
  • Technical Support
  • Test Engineer
  • Transport Planner

Recent employers include:

  • Atkins
  • Cascade Technology
  • Coherent Scotland Ltd
  • Tutor Doctor
  • Virgin Media

*Based on the national Destination of Leavers Survey

Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city

Our campus is based right in the very heart of Glasgow. We're in the city centre, next to the Merchant City, both of which are great locations for sightseeing, shopping and socialising alongside your studies.

Life in Glasgow

Gallery of Modern Art, Royal Exchange Square.

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Apply

Start date: Sep 2023

Physics (1 year entry)

full-time
Start date: Sep 2023

UCAS Applications

Apply through UCAS if you are a UK applicant. International applicants may apply through UCAS if they are applying to more than one UK University.

Apply now

Direct Applications

Our Direct applications service is for international applicants who wish to apply to Strathclyde University at this time.

Apply now

Start date: Sep 2023

Physics (2 year entry)

full-time
Start date: Sep 2023

UCAS Applications

Apply through UCAS if you are a UK applicant. International applicants may apply through UCAS if they are applying to more than one UK University.

Apply now

Direct Applications

Our Direct applications service is for international applicants who wish to apply to Strathclyde University at this time.

Apply now

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