BSc (Hons) Physics - University of Portsmouth
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BSc (Hons)


UCAS codeF310

full time3yrs

placement option1yr

Applied physics for the real world

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Enhance your enthusiasm for physics with this full time undergraduate course. You will have the opportunity to develop your understanding of how fundamental physical theories can be harnessed to predict the behaviour of physical systems at the quantum level, in both the solid state and in the universe.

You’ll also have the opportunity to develop strong mathematical, computational and instrumentation skills that will enhance your prospects in research or employment.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Engage with physicists working in industry or research
  • Develop strong employability skills
  • Carry out projects using our excellent computational and experimental facilities.

What opportunities might it lead to?

Designed to progressively encourage you towards independent life-long learning and to develop your research skills and interests, this degree could lead to further study or research.

Alternatively, physics graduates are highly regarded in many areas of industry, the civil service and other institutions.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • PhD study in other prestigious universities

Graduate training schemes in various industrial sectors

  • defence communications
  • medical physics
  • electronics
  • energy
  • aerospace



Charlotte Turner, BSc (Hons) Applied Physics student 2015

There are opportunities to do paid summer internships, as well as work on a project over the summer and gain valuable work experience.

Charlotte Turner, BSc (Hons) Applied Physics student 2015


Mathematics and Physics

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • The practical problem-solving approach based on real-world issues
  • Approachable lecturers who are doing current research
  • Relevant work placements to help build employability skills

Browse all courses in Mathematics and Physics

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

Key subjects covered in the first year include mathematical physics and dynamics, computational physics, electricity and magnetism, space science and modern laboratory techniques and skills. Alongside this you’ll learn the relevant practical and problem-solving skills, such as computational techniques that will be an important tool throughout your course.

Core units you will study in this year include:

  • Space Science and Applications of Physics
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Introduction to Computational Physics
  • Introduction to Laboratory and Field Physics
  • Introduction to Mathematical Physics 1
  • Introduction to Mathematical Physics 2

Year two

The second year establishes much of the core curriculum but also allows a choice of energy or astrophysics units.

Year two core units

  • Mathematical Physics
  • Introduction to Modern Physics and Astrophysics
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics
  • Waves and Optics

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Computational Physics
  • Practical Laboratory and Field Physics
  • Universe, Planetary systems stars and galaxies
  • Applied Mathematics

Year three*

Part of the third year consists of a field or laboratory project that enables you to investigate and find a solution to a well-defined and often environmental problem. In addition, there are a variety of optional units to choose from.

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Group Projects
  • Project
  • Modern Astrophysics 1
  • Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Information
  • Particle Physics
  • Radiofrequency and Microwave Physics
  • Health Physics
  • Physics Industrial Placement
  • Nanoscale surface physics
  • Introduction to Multiferroic materials and their application

Physics Industrial Placement is optional year in employment which is not included in the classification credits. Students must take either Group Projects or Project.

*This course is also available as a 4-year sandwich (work placement).

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


You will be taught in a variety of ways, but our emphasis is always on active learning. We use a combination of lectures, practicals and fieldwork, seminars, workshops and projects, with comprehensive learning support from the academic staff.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 36% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 64% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 31% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 69% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 18% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 82% studying independently and 0% on work placement


There is a variety ways in which you are assessed. Here’s how:

  • coursework,
  • practical work (both laboratory and field based)
  • presentations
  • production of posters and portfolios
  • a research based final-year project

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 28% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 72% by coursework
  • Year two students: 55% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 45% by coursework
  • Year three students: 45% by written exams, 12% by practical exams and 43% by coursework

Tutor's view


Dr Chris Dewdney
Applied Physics

This course will provide you with a deep understanding of the fundamental laws of physics and their application in explaining the nature of the material world on all scales and in the ongoing development of modern innovative technologies.

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Facilities & Features

Specialist Software and Scientific Equipment

LabVIEW is used for digital data acquisition, instrument control, virtual instrument design and automation. Matlab is used to develop programmes for computational physics simulations and calculations. There is a range of advanced testing equipment with expert technical staff always available to assist you. These include:

  • X-ray diffraction (XRD)
  • Vibrating Sample Magnetometer (VSM) with 3T magnetic field and cryogenic capabilities
  • Piezoelectric and ferroelectric dielectrics tester with built-in laser interferometer
  • Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) with specialized scanning modes.
  • Ultra High Vacuum (UHV) Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) with in-situ surface science testing facilities 


Our well-stocked student labs house a wide range of analytical equipment for testing of all possible physical properties including magnetic, electric, thermal, dielectric, structural, mechanical, optical and quantum properties under a wide range of environmental conditions.

Such equipment allows for the study and discovery of novel properties and physical effects in condensed matter, including the ability to fabricate new bulk and nano-materials with novel functional properties of technological interest. There is also a Quantum Optics Laboratory.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

The cost of travel or accommodation associated with compulsory fieldwork is included in the course fee. You will be expected to pay for meals and other subsistence costs associated with compulsory fieldwork.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

Many graduates go on to further study for MSc degrees or PhDs in a wide range of topics from photonics to astrophysics and cosmology. Recent graduates have also been employed in roles ranging from medical physics, scientific journalism, teaching and medical research. Many highly numerate physics graduates with modelling experience also go into a range of financial services.

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunites

Taking a placement year in industry could be one of the best decisions you make as more often than not, it leads to further opportunities after graduation. SPEC, our Student Placement and Employability Centre, not only helps you to arrange your placement but acts as a source of information and guidance throughout the recruitment process and beyond. We help on everything related to employability skills as well as assisting you in gaining other types of work experience.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

Roxana Waughman, BSc (Hons) Applied Physics student 2013

Once I finish my course I would like to carry on doing a Master’s in science, especially with the idea to carry on doing medical physics.

Roxana Waughman, BSc (Hons) Applied Physics student 2013

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
University House
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484