Theoretical Physics BSc

Year of entry

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UCAS code
F3K0
Start dates
September 2023
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
Duration
3 years full time
Work placement
Optional
Study abroad
Optional
Typical A-level offer
AAB (specific subject requirements)
Typical Access to Leeds offer
BBB
Full entry requirements
Accredited
Yes

Course overview

A student in a physics lab at the University of Leeds.

Theoretical physics uses mathematical methods to delve into the physics that governs our world and our universe. From developing cancer treatments and artificial intelligence to answering the fundamental questions of the universe, physics and physicists have had a significant impact across a variety of different industries – which is why it’s still such a sought-after and relevant discipline today.

Studying the theoretical physics degree at Leeds will provide you with a solid grounding in how mathematical methods are applied to physics topics alongside experience in conducting your own project work based on current research areas – including a collaborative research project in your final year. Throughout your degree, you’ll have access to excellent facilities right here on campus, including laboratories and teaching spaces in the Sir William Henry Bragg Building.

Our close industry links and innovative research activity ensure this course reflects the latest advancements and applications in physics. You'll graduate with the specialist knowledge, skills and experience necessary to launch a successful career in this highly valued profession, with a wide range of career options available to you.

Why study at Leeds:

  • This course is accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP).
  • Our School’s globally-renowned research feeds into the course, shaping what you learn with the latest thinking.
  • Learn from expert academics and researchers who specialise in a variety of physics areas.
  • Access specialist facilities including laboratories and teaching spaces right here on campus.
  • Our comprehensive approach to teaching and assessment will give you a holistic understanding of how physics, mathematics, computing and experimental learning link together to qualify you as a physicist.
  • Broaden your experience before you graduate and enhance your career prospects with our study abroad programmes and industrial work placement opportunities.
  • At the end of your second year, there is the possibility of transferring to the four-year integrated Masters (MPhys, BSc) course.
  • Make the most of your time at Leeds by joining our student society Physics Society (Physoc), a student-run society for physics students. It’ll give you the chance to meet like-minded students who share your passion for physics and enjoy a range of activities including guest lectures, trips and frequent socials.

View this video on Bilibili.

Accreditation

Institute of Physics (IOP)

Accreditation is the assurance that a university course meets the quality standards established by the relevant professional body.

This course is accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP).

This BSc degree guarantees you eligibility for IOP membership and is accredited as meeting the academic requirement needed to follow the route to professional registration as a registered scientist (RSci) or a chartered physicist (CPhys).

Course details

We are currently reviewing our curriculum as part of a university-wide process. As a result, we are unable to publish module information for this course at this time. The information below provides an overview of what you’ll study and our approach to teaching and assessment. We will update this page as soon as the changes are confirmed. Read more in our terms and conditions.

We’ve designed our programme to enable you to develop your physics knowledge alongside the mathematical, computational and experimental methods that are needed to become qualified as a physicist.

As you move through the programme, you'll increasingly build on your solid foundation in physics to learn about and work on the latest developments in the subject, based on our research expertise.

In year 3, you can choose modules from the School of Mathematics in group theory and symmetries, fluid dynamics, geometry and topology and nonlinear dynamics.

Throughout your degree, you’ll get hands-on experience through project work. This gives you the opportunity to explore your subject further as well as developing valuable skills in problem solving, communication and teamwork.

We take a competency-based approach to assessment, to enable you to demonstrate your skills and knowledge across a range of activities.

Discovery modules are available in the first year of your degree. In years 2 and 3 you have some compulsory modules and will also get to choose from a range of optional modules.

Each academic year, you'll take a total of 120 credits.

Years 1 and 2

Throughout the first two years of your degree, you’ll gain knowledge and skills in physics and learn how to apply them to solve problems across the fundamental areas including: electrodynamics, thermal physics, classical mechanics, quantum physics, solid state physics, waves, optics, contemporary physics, astrophysics and physics for sustainable development. We’ll also cover topics such as ethics, philosophy and career options in physics.

In year 1, you’ll take a 100-credit physics compulsory modules course, plus 20 credits of discovery modules. Year 2 allows you to take 80 credits of physics compulsory modules, alongside 40 credits of mathematics modules.

Year 3

In the final year of your degree, your work will be closely linked to our current research. We offer advanced modules on research topics, such as: spintronics, quantum optics and photonics, bionanophysics, quantum information, molecular simulation, advanced mechanics, medical physics, physics education research and cosmology.

We also offer work-related modules that involve innovation projects or short work placements. In year 3 you can choose from modules from the School of Mathematics in group theory and symmetries, fluid dynamics, geometry and topology and nonlinear dynamics. Our students are also able to study higher-level modules offered by the Schools of Medicine, Earth and Environment, Chemical Engineering and Philosophy.

For your final year project, you’ll work as part of an internationally recognised research team on an open-ended project. You'll plan and organise your work, follow it through and present your results. This is a wonderful opportunity to take part and contribute to the latest physics research and join one of our research groups. Some of our students even get to publish their research project in peer reviewed journals.

In year 3, your research project makes up 40 credits, alongside a mixture of optional and compulsory modules totalling 80 credits.

One-year optional work placement or study abroad

During your course, you’ll be given the opportunity to advance your skill set and experience further. You can apply to either undertake a one-year work placement or study abroad for a year, choosing from a selection of universities we’re in partnership with worldwide.

Learning outcomes

As well as a deep understanding of physics, by the end of your degree, you'll have developed the following skills:

  • Think creatively to solve a problem or create new knowledge.
  • Deploy complex problem-solving techniques.
  • Deepen your understanding of the laws of nature, from the subatomic to the cosmic.
  • Ability to model problems and make estimations.
  • Use coding and mathematical tools to solve physics problems.
  • Undertake critical evaluation of information and rigorous analysis of data.
  • Develop your professionalism, including communicating effectively in verbal, written and multimedia formats, and planning and completing work to deadlines.
  • Work effectively as part of a team.
  • Be enterprising and be able to identify and realise opportunities.
  • Ability to evaluate your own strengths and identify areas for development.
  • Use advanced mathematics to deepen your understanding of modern physics.
  • Develop skills in modern theoretical modelling.
  • Deeper appreciation of the connections between mathematics and physics.

Learning and teaching

We have an integrated approach to the teaching on our programmes, bringing together theoretical and practical learning to train you to become a physicist. You'll be taught through several different approaches, including lectures, workshops, small-group tutorials, laboratory work, project work and digitally enhanced learning.

In the first two years, our teaching is delivered using interactive in-person lectures, small group tutorials and larger workshops, where you'll develop your problem-solving skills. In later years, the lecturer will usually support their own specialist material through a combination of lectures and workshops.

Experimental physics is an essential part of our teaching. It provides you with the opportunity to develop your verbal and written communication skills through performing experiments individually, and as part of a group. Computer programming is an integral part of physics, and during the first two years you'll be taught the programming skills that you need, using Python.

All students are assigned a personal tutor. During year 1, your personal tutor will also host your weekly tutorials, so you'll really get to know them well, alongside a small group of other students, which really helps our students to settle into university study. Your personal tutor is there to offer advice, monitor your progress, and be your first point of contact throughout your years of study.

We also have a peer assisted learning scheme, where higher year students meet weekly with first years to support their learning and help them to settle into university life.

There are many facilities that will support your studies including extensive computer clusters and study areas.

Taster lectures

Watch our taster lectures to get a flavour of what it’s like to study at Leeds:

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.

Assessment

The initial two years of the programme employ a holistic and comprehensive assessment approach that uses a combination of competency-based evaluations to gauge your mastery of the basic learning outcomes of the course and grading assessments.

This approach provides multiple opportunities for you to demonstrate your skills and knowledge. Once you have successfully passed the competency assessments (to pass the module) you'll then complete grading assessments, where a full range of marks can be achieved through various forms of assessment such as written reports, open-book exams, online tests, and presentations.

In your final year, the programme features a mandatory research project, which emphasises open-ended investigations and includes written and verbal presentations. The remaining modules will utilise a variety of assessment methods, including written exams, reports, and presentations, as specified in the module catalogue.

Additionally, the programme places emphasis on the development of teamwork skills, as they are becoming increasingly important in today's workplaces, thus group work opportunities are an integral part of the programme.

Entry requirements

A-level: AAB including Physics and Mathematics.

Excludes A Level General Studies and Critical Thinking.

Where an A Level science subject is taken, we require a pass in the practical science element, alongside the achievement of the A Level at the stated grade.

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), International Project Qualification (IPQ) and Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (ASCC): We recognise the value of these qualifications and the effort and enthusiasm that applicants put into them, and where an applicant offers an A in the EPQ, IPQ or ASCC we may make an offer of ABB at A-Level.

GCSE: English Language at grade C (4) or above, or an appropriate English language qualification. We will accept Level 2 Functional Skills English in lieu of GCSE English.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Overall pass of the Access to HE, with 45 credits at level 3. Of these 45 credits, 30 level 3 credits must be in Physics and Mathematics and must be passed with Distinction.

BTEC

BTEC qualifications in relevant disciplines are considered in combination with A Level Physics and Mathematics. Applicants should contact the School to discuss.

Cambridge Pre-U

D3, M1, M2 including Physics and Mathematics

International Baccalaureate

35 points overall with 15 points at Higher Level to include 5 in Higher Level Physics and 5 in Higher Level Mathematics.

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2, H2, H2, H3, H3, H3 including H2 in both Physics and Mathematics

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

AB at Advanced Higher in Physics and Mathematics with AABBB at Higher

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is an alternative admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and alternative admissions.

Typical Access to Leeds A Level offer: BBB including Physics and Mathematics. Excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking.

If you do not have the formal qualifications for immediate entry to one of our degrees, you may be able to progress through a foundation year. We offer a Studies in Science with Foundation Year BSc for students without a science background at A-level and an Interdisciplinary Science with Foundation Year BSc for applicants who meet specific widening participation criteria.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall, with no less than 5.5 in any one component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.


Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

Fees

UK: £9,250 (per year)

International: £30,250 (per year)

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2023/24 and 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will remain capped at £9,250 for 2023/24 and 2024/25. The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2023/24 and 2024/25
Tuition fees for international students for 2023/24 and 2024/25 are available on individual course pages.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Additional cost information

Whilst there are no compulsory additional costs, it would be helpful to bring your own calculator. You’ll have access to all the recommended texts and a vast supply of books and academic journals from the university libraries.

You’ll also have access to the extensive IT facilities on campus including 24/7 computer clusters with everything you need to complete your work.

However, you may wish to purchase your own books and/or computer.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.

Applying

Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

We may consider applications submitted after the deadline. Availability of courses in UCAS Extra will be detailed on UCAS at the appropriate stage in the cycle.

Admissions guidance

Read our admissions guidance about applying and writing your personal statement.

What happens after you’ve applied

You can keep up to date with the progress of your application through UCAS.

UCAS will notify you when we make a decision on your application. If you receive an offer, you can inform us of your decision to accept or decline your place through UCAS.

How long will it take to receive a decision

We typically receive a high number of applications to our courses. For applications submitted by the January UCAS deadline, UCAS asks universities to make decisions by mid-May at the latest.

Offer holder events

If you receive an offer from us, you’ll be invited to an offer holder event. This event is more in-depth than an open day. It gives you the chance to learn more about your course and get your questions answered by academic staff and students. Plus, you can explore our campus, facilities and accommodation.

International applicants

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students.

We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Read about visas, immigration and other information here.

If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Physics and Astronomy

Contact us

School of Physics and Astronomy Undergraduate Admissions Enquiries

Email: physics.admissions@leeds.ac.uk
Telephone:

Career opportunities

There are extensive employment opportunities in the field of physics across numerous industries, which is why physics graduates are in demand for some of the highest paid and most satisfying roles in employment.

Plus, University of Leeds students are among the top 10 most targeted by top employers according to The Graduate Market 2023, High Fliers Research, meaning our graduates are highly sought after by some of the most reputable companies in the field.

Qualifying with a degree in physics from Leeds will set you up with the numerical, analytical and problem-solving skills and specialist subject knowledge needed to pursue an exciting career across a wide range of sectors, including:

  • IT
  • Engineering
  • Finance (including Fintech)
  • Medical Physics
  • Patent Attorney
  • Tech Consulting
  • Aerospace
  • Electronics
  • Energy
  • Teaching
  • Environment
  • Science Journalism
  • Research

Throughout your course – especially in your final year research project – you'll have the chance to advance your knowledge and experience, whilst developing widely transferable skills desirable to employers including teamwork, independent research, analysis and communication.

Here’s an insight into the job roles some of our most recent physics graduates have obtained:

  • Astrophysicist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Clinical Scientist, Christie Hospital NHS Trust
  • Electronic Engineer, NASA
  • IT Specialist, IBM
  • Nuclear Engineer, Rolls Royce Submarines
  • Nuclear Independent Oversight Inspector, Sellafield Limited
  • Physicist, AMEC
  • Radiographer, NHS
  • Research Scientist, National Physical Laboratory
  • Robotics Systems Engineer, Dyson
  • Science Teacher
  • Scientific Officer, Met. Office
  • Systems Engineer, Boeing

Read our alumni profiles to find out more about where our students are working.

Careers support

At Leeds, we help you to prepare for your future from day one. Our Leeds for Life initiative is designed to help you develop and demonstrate the skills and experience you need for when you graduate. We will help you to access opportunities across the University and record your key achievements so you are able to articulate them clearly and confidently.

You'll be supported throughout your studies by our dedicated Employability team, who will provide you with specialist support and advice to help you find relevant work experience, internships and industrial placements, as well as graduate positions. You’ll benefit from timetabled employability sessions, support during internships and placements, and presentations and workshops delivered by employers.

We’re also an active partner in the White Rose Industrial Physics Academy, where we hold the UK’s largest annual Physics Careers Fair, with employers exclusively looking for physicists.

You'll also have full access to the University’s Careers Centre, which is one of the largest in the country.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

Studying abroad is a unique opportunity to explore the world, whilst gaining invaluable skills and experience that could enhance your future employability and career prospects too.

From Europe to Asia, the USA to Australasia, we have many University partners worldwide you can apply to, spanning across some of the most popular destinations for students.

This programme offers you the option to spend time abroad as an extra academic year and will extend your studies by 12 months.

Once you’ve successfully completed your year abroad, you'll be awarded the ‘international’ variant in your degree title which demonstrates your added experience to future employers.

Find out more about Study abroad.

Work placements

A placement year is a great way to help you decide on a career path when you graduate. You’ll develop your skills and gain a real insight into working life in a particular company or sector. It will also help you to stand out in a competitive graduate jobs market and improve your chances of securing the career you want.

Benefits of a work placement year:

  • 100+ organisations to choose from, both in the UK and overseas
  • Build industry contacts within your chosen field
  • Our close industry links mean you’ll be in direct contact with potential employers
  • Advance your experience and skills by putting the course teachings into practice
  • Gain invaluable insight into working as a professional in this industry
  • Improve your employability

If you decide to undertake a placement year, this will extend your period of study by 12 months and, on successful completion, you'll be awarded the ‘industrial’ variant in your degree title to demonstrate your added experience to future employers.

With the help and support of our dedicated Employability team, you can find the right placement to suit you and your future career goals.

Here are some examples of placements our students have recently completed:

  • RF, IT, Secure Networks & Communications 2021 Year in Industry, QinetiQ
  • Industrial Placement - Technology Network Engineering, Vodafone Limited
  • Industrial Placement Student, Defence Science & Technology Laboratory
  • QA Engineer, Elder Studios Ltd
  • Security Risk Assurance Manager, Department of Work and Pensions

Find out more about Industrial placements.

Student profile: Abbie Cannon

Theoretical physics is a beautiful subject. You get to marvel at the heights of human ingenuity and learn on a fundamental level how the universe we live in works.
Find out more about Abbie Cannon's time at Leeds