MPhys (Hons) Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology - University of Portsmouth
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MPhys (Hons)

Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology

UCAS codeF300

full time4yrs

Study the physical world from the sub atomic scale to the whole Universe.

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Are you interested in understanding the physical world from the sub atomic scale to that of the whole Universe?

This course not only develops a deep understanding of the fundamental laws of physics but also shows how their application determines the structure and behaviour of the whole universe and its constituent astrophysical parts.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Interact with world-leading researchers from the University’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation working at the forefront of modern astrophysics research.
  • Use the latest astronomical data to test our current understanding of the structure and behaviour of astrophysical objects and ideas about the evolution of the Universe.
  • Develop skills in the investigation and solution of astrophysical and cosmological problems using observational, theoretical and computational techniques.

What opportunities might it lead to?

The course will equip you for further study at PhD level in astrophysics and cosmology. There are also opportunities for employment as a scientific researcher in technical-based industry or commerce. Physics graduates have been successful in applying their analytical skills in many more general areas of employment.

Here are some routes our graduates may pursue:

  • PhD and Masters studies for example in cosmology, astrophysics, astronomy and theoretical physics
  • Development of space systems and communications in aerospace industries
  • Development and applications of information technology
  • Graduate employment in industry, finance and commerce 



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

Our course blends a range of lectures, seminars, desk studies, field, laboratory and coursework to develop your awareness of physics and its applications in astrophysics and cosmology.

Core units you will study include:

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

Year two

You will develop your knowledge on specific areas of physics as well as select from a choice of units across the year.

Core units you will study include:

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

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Universe, Planetary Systems, Stars and Galaxies
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computational Physics
  • Practical Laboratory Physics

Year three

Work is expected to begin to conform more fully to professional standards expected and will test the higher level skills of analysis and synthesis of knowledge at this level. A project gives you an opportunity to work in an area of interest.

Core units you will study include:

  • Solid State Physics and Detectors
  • Modern Astrophysics 1
  • Physical Cosmology

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Particle Physics
  • Radiofrequency and Microwave Physics
  • Physics Industrial Placement
  • Minor Group Project
  • Mathematical Methods for Physics
  • Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Information

Year four

This year consists of a major research project alongside a number of options for students to choose from.

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Contemporary Theoretical Physics
  • Advanced Computational Techniques
  • General Relativity and Theoretical Cosmology
  • Observational Astronomy and Cosmology
  • Modern Astrophysics 2

Physics Industrial Placement is an optional year in employment which is not included in the classification credits.

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.


The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences ensure an appropriate range of assessment methods at all levels. Students are never faced with any one type of assessment which might favour or disadvantage any student or groups of students.

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: 23% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 77% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year four students: 16% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 84% studying independently and 0% on work placement


There is a very wide range of assessment methods, including:

  • Open and closed-book examination
  • Poster and oral presentations (individually and in groups)
  • Portfolios
  • Laboratory reports
  • Laboratory and field notebooks

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: 62% by written exams, 7% by practical exams and 31% by coursework
  • Year four students: 18% by written exams, 31% by practical exams and 51% by coursework

Tutor's view


Prof Claudia Maraston
Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology

Did you know that 95% of the Universe is in a form we do not understand? And did you know that a supermassive black hole in the centre of our Galaxy regulates the formation of new stars? If you are curious about the most extreme among natural sciences, 'Modern Astrophysics' will teach you the fundamental physics in Astrophysics and Cosmology and inform you about the latest discoveries and technologies.

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Facilities & Features

Specialist Software and Scientific Equipment

There is a range of advanced equipment with expert technical staff always available to assist you. Here are a few examples:

  • x-ray diffraction
  • x-ray fluorescence
  • electron and atomic force microscopes
  • various types of spectroscopy including ICPMS, GCMS and AAS


Students have access to data from major astronomical surveys including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. They also have trips to the Clanfield Observatory run by the Hampshire Astronomical Group where they may also carry out their extended projects using the various telescopes including the latest 24in reflector.

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.

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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.

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