Physics

Focus on theoretical physics in this professionally accredited integrated Master’s course, with more mathematical content and less emphasis on experimental work.

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 2017 entry data

Professionally accredited

Read about this course's accreditation

  • UCAS course code: F390
  • ECTS: 240
  • Start date: September 2019
Apply on the UCAS website

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.

As the degree progresses 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 opportunity to build on the BSc course with an additional year of Master's level study, and 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

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

  • 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

Core modules

  • Advanced Classical Physics
  • Comprehensive Physics
  • Fluid Dynamics
  • Light and Matter
  • Physics of the Universe
  • Professional Skills III

Optional modules

You choose modules to total 15-18 ECTS credits, and the below groups of modules are given as a guide to what you will be able to choose from.

  • Astrophysics
  • Communicating Physics
  • Complexity and Networks1
  • Computational Physics1
  • Foundations of Quantum Mechanics1
  • Group Theory1
  • Imaging and Biophotonics
  • Lasers
  • Medical Imaging: Nuclear Diagnostics and MRI
  • Medical Imaging: X-Rays and Ultrasound
  • Plasma Physics
  • Principles of Instrumentation
  • Statistical Mechanics1

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

Business and humanities

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

Year 4

Core modules

  • MSci Project
  • Research Interfaces

Optional modules

You choose modules to total 30-35 ECTS credits, and the below modules are given as a guide to what you will be able to choose from. Most modules below carry 6 ECTS credits each.

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 Hydrodynamics
  • Advanced Particle Physics1
  • Atmospheric Physics
  • Computational Neuroscience
  • Cosmology
  • General Relativity1
  • Information Theory
  • Laser Technology
  • Nanotechnology in Consumer Electronics
  • Optical Communications
  • Plasmonics and Metamaterials
  • Quantum Field Theory1
  • Quantum Information1
  • Quantum Optics
  • Quantum Theory of Matter1
  • Space Physics
  • Unification1

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.

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. 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, in order to ensure our degrees provide a strong set of additional skills, such as presentation and communicative skills.

Teaching, independent study and placement hours

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Lectures, seminars and similar596 hours569 hours410 hours336 hours
Independent study912 hours931 hours1,090 hours1,164 hours
Placement
Based on the typical pathway through the course

Assessment

Our Physics degrees use a variety of assessment methods, the list below 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

Assessment types

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Coursework24%22%14%48%
Practical11%8%3%2%
Written65%70%83%50%
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 2019 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 to at least 85% 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.

International Baccalaureate

Minimum entry standards

Our minimum entry standard for 2019 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 in 2017 to at least 85% of applicants studying IB was 40 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.

Advanced Placements

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

  • 5 in Calculus BC
  • 5 in Physics C Electricity and Magnetism
  • 5 in Physics C Mechanics

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 (encompassing at least 85% 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.

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 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.

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)

2019 entry
£9,250 per year

The UK government has confirmed that EU students entering the university in 2019 will continue to pay the Home rate of tuition for the duration of their course.

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.

The UK government has confirmed that access to government funding will remain unchanged for EU students entering the university in 2019 throughout 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)

2019 entry
£31,000 per year

The tuition fees for Overseas and Islands students are set by Imperial College London.

You should expect and budget for your tuition fee increasing each year by an inflationary amount. 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 e.g. 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

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 photovoltaic 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
  • 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: F390
  • UCAS institution code: I50
Apply on the UCAS website

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 2019 for entry in September 2019.

The deadline for medicine courses at Imperial starting in 2019 is 18.00 (UK time) on 15 October 2018.

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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