Student working with Atomic Force microscope

Physics BSc (Hons) / MPhys (Hons)

Learn to question the impossible while studying fundamental physics alongside topics such as nano-materials and quantum information processes.

University of Portsmouth Connected Degree - 3 year course with 4th year placement

Key information

UCAS code:

FF33 (BSc) or F302 (MPhys)

Accreditation:

This course is Accredited

Typical offer:

112-120 points (BSc) / 120-128 points (MPhys), from 2 or 3 A levels or equivalent, to include a relevant subject

See full entry requirements
Study mode and duration
Start date

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Overview

Advances in physics lead to new technologies that change our world and forge a path to a brighter future.

Quantum theory (the study of the subatomic) and the theory of relativity (that space and time are connected) challenge our imaginations. On this physics degree course, you'll uncover an amazing world that lies beyond what we can see. You'll learn to question the impossible and develop the confidence to push against the boundaries of what we think we know.

You'll have the opportunity to study topics including health physics, the fabrication of new bulk and nano-materials, and the application of fundamental quantum effects in the development of quantum information processes. You’ll graduate with strong mathematical, analytical, problem-solving and computational abilities that are in high demand.

BSc or MPhys?

You can study this course as a 3-year Bachelor's degree (BSc) or a 4-year integrated Master's degree (MPhys). The MPhys allows you to achieve a Master’s level degree with just one extra year of undergraduate study, further enhancing your career prospects.

Physics at the University of Portsmouth is ranked 6th of all UK universities and the top modern university for research quality

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Read more about our outstanding physics research

Course highlights

  • See physics theory in practice through visits to companies such as BAE Systems, Airbus, QinetiQ, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust and others
  • Benefit from our links to industry through the Portsmouth Physics Industry Advisory Board, a collection of professionals in relevant industries who help shape our course content, identify the skills employers want, teach on modules and offer placements
  • Have the chance to do an industrial-based research project under supervision of a leading physicist, such as researching physics for a defence company, working in radar for BAE Systems, or data engineering within the finance sector
  • Attend a programme of guest lectures on topics such as material sciences and quantum technology hosted by industry experts, including speakers from the medical physics department at Queen Alexandra Hospital
  • Investigate new technologies and theories alongside the University's physics research teams (and contribute to their work in your final project), whose research was ranked 6th in the UK for quality
  • Use advanced technical equipment with the help of expert technical staff, including x-ray diffraction, x-ray fluorescence, electron and atomic force microscopes, various types of spectroscopy and the SCIAMA supercomputer

90%

of graduates in work or further study 15 months after this course

(HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018/19)

Accreditation

This course is accredited by the Institute of Physics.

As a supporter of the Institute of Physics Project Juno, we're committed to addressing the under-representation of women in physics and gender equality in higher education and research.

Portrait image of Claudia Maraston

Claudia Maraston, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Portsmouth, features in Research.com's ranked list of physicists from around the world.

Read more

Entry requirements

BSc (Hons) Physics degree entry requirements

Typical offers

  • UCAS points - 112-120 points from 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, to include a relevant subject. (calculate your UCAS points)
  • A levels - BBB-BBC, to include a relevant subject.
    Relevant subjects: Physics; Mathematics; Further Mathematics; Statistics; Electronics.
  • BTECs (Extended Diplomas) - DDM-DMM
  • International Baccalaureate - 29

You may need to have studied specific subjects – find full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept at UCAS.

English language requirements

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

See alternative English language qualifications

We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.

If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

If you don't meet the entry requirements, you may be able to join this course after you successfully complete a foundation year.

MPhys (Hons) Physics Master’s degree entry requirements

Typical offers

  • UCAS points - 120-128 points from 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, to include a relevant subject. (calculate your UCAS points)
  • A levels - ABB-BBB, to include a relevant subject.
    Relevant subjects: Physics; Mathematics; Further Mathematics; Statistics; Electronics.
  • BTECs (Extended Diplomas) - DDM  
  • International Baccalaureate - 29-30

You may need to have studied specific subjects – find full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept at UCAS.

English language requirements

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

See alternative English language qualifications

We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.

If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

We look at more than just your grades

While we consider your grades when making an offer, we also carefully look at your circumstances and other factors to assess your potential. These include whether you live and work in the region and your personal and family circumstances which we assess using established data.

Explore more about how we make your offer

Passionate staff challenge me to be the best physicist I can which makes me confident that physics is the right career path for me.

James Michie, MPhys (Hons) Physics

Study Physics at the University of Portsmouth

Meet your staff, facilities and equipment

Get an introduction to Physics at Portsmouth from Professor Daniel Thomas, Head of the School of Mathematics and Physics. Explore our facilities and equipment and discover more about your final year project.

Professor Daniel Thomas:

What really fascinates me most about university education is that right at the interface between research and teaching, newly created knowledge and skills are passed on directly to you, to the next generation.

The University of Portsmouth gives us the right equipment and the right facilities to our physics students and to our physics staff to do exactly that.

Our physics students get to experience the laws of nature and physical concept first hand, to the lab modules in the first and second years. Cherie Morrison, our senior technician, will show you now a little bit of the experiments you are going to be doing in the first and the second year of your studies.

Cherie Morrison (Senior Technician):

This is the main physics room where we have our first and second year experiments. Behind me you can see the photoelectric effect, electron diffraction, hall effect.

We also have an experiment using LabView that will give you the skills that employers are looking for.

Here's the AFM that stands for atomic force microscopy. Here we can look at the topography of the surface. So that's what the surface looks like and how it has all these bumps and ridges but really, these features are only a few nanometres tall. You can see an image of my hair. My hair is only roughly 100 microns thick and this image is only 10 microns across. You can see all the scales, all the bumps and all the shapes on my hair.

Professor Daniel Thomas:

In our labs we've also got the MBE, which stands for Molecular Beam Epitexi and the plasma spluttering device. They are both high end cutting edge research devices that we use, in fact, for our research but we also use it for our teaching.

What we do with these devices is we are adding very thin films on surfaces and the thickness of this film is less than a nanometre. Think about it, less than a nanometre. It's just the size of an atom. So the device creates a vacuum less than deep space, 10 to the minus 10 million.

Doctor Samantha Penny:

This is our computer lab for our final year students to carry out their project work. So if you come and do an MPhys year with us, so you do the four year integrated master's degree, you get a chance to carry out a final year project. We have this lovely, dedicated computer room for you to do your project work in, so no competing with the other undergrads for your computer space.

In that project, you'll get to carry out all sorts of real research problems that real life astronomers or physicists are working on. So, for example, the kind of projects I'm offering this year, my students will be working with observational data sets from large cutting edge astronomical surveys.

They're going to be searching for supermassive black holes and galaxies. They're going to be working out why galaxies in really, really under dense, really sort of uncrowded regions of the universe, why they look different to galaxies in other parts of the universe as well.

And I'm also having a student who's going to look at how to communicate astronomy to anybody with a visual impairment. So a real range of projects you could get involved with if you come to Portsmouth. So we look forward to welcoming you to the University of Portsmouth and I think you'll really enjoy your time here studying with us.

Professor Daniel Thomas:

The offices of our physics staff are located in the Dennis Sciama building right next to the labs. The Dennis Sciama Building also hosts the well renowned Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation that is well known for its world leading research in astrophysics and cosmology. When you study physics with us, you get the opportunity to work on exciting research projects together with our staff from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation in fields like astrophysics and cosmology.

Close to the Dennis Sciama Building and the labs is the Lion Gate Building, where we host the Technology and Learning Centre. That's a space for our physics students to meet, to learn or just to hang out. We also hold daily tutorials run by our mathematics and physics staff for our physics students so that they can ask any questions they may have about maths or physics.

We look forward to welcoming you at the University of Portsmouth to discover the magic of physics with us.

Facilities and specialist equipment

Undergraduate Physics Laboratory

Learn through supervised, practice-based experiments such as electron diffraction and speed of light measurement, and learn to use LabVIEW, the same software the European Organisation for Nuclear Research uses to run the Large Hadron Collider. The attached Wave Synoptics Lab is a space for you to study mechanical and electromagnetic waves.

Male BAME scientist studying the Zeeman effect
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Materials Coating Laboratory

Our lab contains a plasma sputtering machine, which 'spray paints' substrate surfaces with thin layers of film. 

Female physics student in laboratory
Explore lab

Quantum Optics Laboratory

Study and research quantum theory, mechanics and optics, using more than 30 microscopes and lasers, and a Mini Vibrating-sample Magnetometer

Students setting up lenses in Quantum Optics Laboratory
Read more

Nanomaterials Laboratory

A billionth of a metre in size, nanotechnology is changing the world. Our Nanomaterials Laboratory is at the centre of research into nanotechnologies.

SEM Chamber sample holder
Explore lab

Specialist physics equipment and software

You'll get access to industry standard equipment, including our SCIAMA supercomputer that can complete a billion calculations per second and simulate vast regions of the Universe. You'll also get to use exciting technologies including Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and Vibrating Sample Magnetometry (VSM).

Careers and opportunities

This physics degree will give you strong mathematical, analytical, problem-solving and computational abilities that are in high demand in sectors like financial services, aerospace development and publishing. Physics graduates are earning an average of £33,500 5 years after graduation, while the UK government puts your earning potential as high as £50,000.

You'll have the chance to do an industrial-based research project under supervision of a leading physicist, such as IBM, Medical physics department in QA Hospital, Airbus, QinetiQ, working in radar for BAE Systems, or data engineering within the finance sector.

After the course you could also continue your studies to a PhD or other postgraduate qualification. Discover our world-leading physics research and Andrew's journey to a PhD in Physics.

Graduate destinations

Our graduates have worked for companies such as:

  • Burohappold Engineering
  • Tesla Engineering Ltd
  • British Telecom
  • Airbus
  • DSTL
  • BAE
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Diamond Light Source

What jobs can you do with a physics degree?

Our graduates now work in roles including:

  • data analyst
  • software engineer
  • project engineer
  • health physicist
  • physic researcher in defence sector

What areas can you work in with a physics degree?

You could apply your skills and knowledge in areas such as:

  • energy
  • medical instrumentation
  • defence
  • IT
  • scientific journalism
  • finance
  • aerospace
  • data science
  • data engineering
  • education
Female student at computer

Ongoing career support – up to 5 years after you graduate

Get experience while you study, with support to find part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities, and work experience.

Towards the end of your degree and for up to five years after graduation, you’ll receive one-to-one support from our Graduate Recruitment Consultancy to help you find your perfect role.

The opportunities granted to us at Portsmouth provide the backbone that inspires us to succeed. I am comforted to know that my career could go anywhere from here; there really are no limits to where a physicist can go.

Patrick Rennie, Physics student

Placement year (optional)

Taking an optional placement year will give you the experience you need to increase your chances of landing your perfect role after graduation.

We'll give you all the support you need to find a placement that prepares you for your career, and we'll continue to mentor you throughout your placement.

You could also choose to set up your own business, or take a voluntary placement.

Potential roles

Previous students have taken placement roles such as:

  • science technician and classroom assistant
  • industrial placement estimating
  • technical industrial placement

Potential destinations

They've completed placements at organisations including:

  • CGI
  • Sandhurst School
  • BAE Systems
  • DSTL
  • IBM

You may be able to do a placement through the South East Physics Network (SEPnet) Bursary Scheme. This 8-week placement includes a £2000 bursary.

Physics Graduate James Michie, Assistant Engineer

Meet University of Portsmouth physics graduate James Michie, now working as an Assistant Engineer. 

The universe is something that's always interested me.

It's always fascinated me.

I mean, the thing about my job is that I love problem-solving and using theoretical physics to find a practical solution.

The biggest sort of link between space and radar is more the processes to try and condense all the data and see the most out of the data and is obviously another application of all the physics I learnt.

I'm born and bred in Portsmouth, so at first I didn't actually plan on coming to Portsmouth.

I did actually want to go away from home.

I actually did a summer placement during my A Levels.

And when I met all the lecturers at the University and saw how passionate they were about actually teaching physics, I thought that's something that you weren't getting anywhere else.

So I thought, actually, this is where I'm going to get my best education and the most opportunities.

The lecturers were passionate about what they wanted to teach.

It's not just what they studied and what they research, but it was how they wanted to sort of teach the next generation.

The University of Portsmouth was critical to giving me the opportunity to work at BAE through the Industry Advisory Board, and if it wasn't for them inviting me along and introducing me to members of industry, then I wouldn't have had the opportunities I have today.

Working a lot within the outreach, especially with the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, that really sort of, I think, boosted my confidence from being quite an introverted person, not really able to talk to people, to all of a sudden, you have to talk to people, you have to try and teach a little bit of physics to schoolchildren, to parents.

I think that really improved my communication skills.

I think I would describe my time at university as being life-changing.

Compared to what I was before I came to university and how I am now, the way that I developed so much through, you know, not just the degree itself, but all the extracurricular sort of society events, that's really developed me to who I am now.

BSc

MPhys

Modules

Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.

In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, four modules worth 20 credits and one module worth 40 credits.

What you'll study

Core modules

What you'll do

You'll apply and develop your understanding of electricity and magnetism, and of their unification in Maxwell's electromagnetic theory.

You'll also explore the behaviour of devices and circuits.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Describe the operation of electric and magnetic circuits and perform calculations of associated observable quantities
  • Use the basic laws of electromagnetism to calculate the behaviour of electric and magnetic fields coming from continuous and discrete sources
  • Describe the application of the laws of electromagnetism in applied technologies

What you'll do

This module will begin with an introduction to Python and MATLAB coding languages and their syntaxes. You'll learn how to break a problem down into a series of steps that can be converted to computer code that will enable you to present model interfaces and reports for data analysis and visualisation – a skill sought-after by many graduate employers.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Formulate and analyse physical problems in terms of their essential components and develop coherent mathematical models of physical systems expressed as algorithms
  • Write computer programs that implement simple models using appropriate numerical methods using a high-level language
  • Present model interfaces, documentation and reports in a clear and intuitive manner
  • Use computational methods for data analysis and visualisation
  • Understand and use basic Python and MATLAB programming language

What you'll do

You'll also look at why assessing the limits of experimental procedures and errors in results is so important. In addition, the module offers excellent employability skills and it has a strong employability focus.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Write a lab notebook to record an experiment, including hazard identification and considering safety aspects in the design and execution of experiments
  • Be confident using standard lab equipment
  • Interpret and present experimental results in a concise scientific report in standard form, critically assessing uncertainty in measurements where appropriate
  • Plan and assess the effectiveness of an experimental procedure and suggest possible improvements
  • Develop and use automated software procedures (as available in LabView software for example) for device control, digital data acquisition, prototyping and simulation
  • Identify and explain the key physics of experimental investigations and use data to test a hypothesis and describe the significance of results

What you'll do

In this module you'll study maths and mechanics in parallel to learn how maths can be used to describe. Learn how to turn a physical problem into mathematical form and develop an understanding of mathematical modelling and of the role of approximation. You'll experience a practical, problem-based active-learning approach in this module.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Solve problems in the basic mathematics of trigonometry, elementary functions, two and three dimensional coordinate systems and applications in physical context
  • Understand units and dimensional analysis, and solve problems using simple approximations
  • Use suitable examples to describe the nature of a function and its derivative, and sketch a given function
  • Explain the geometrical significance of integrals and evaluate the integrals of elementary functions
  • Manipulate and differentiate vectors and solve problems in kinematics
  • Apply knowledge of basic probability and statistics in appropriate physics contexts. simple problems in Newtonian mechanics involving forces, energy and momentum

What you'll do

In part 2 of 'Introduction to Mathematical Physics', you'll further develop your understanding maths and mechanics, and the role of mathematics as the fundamental language of physics.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Solve problems in the dynamics of rigid bodies, in equilibrium and periodic motion
  • Solve problems in orbits and gravitation
  • Solve problems in the arithmetic of complex numbers
  • Solve elementary problems on series, hyperbolic functions, partial differentiation, coordinate systems and multiple integration
  • Solve problems on simple ordinary differential equations
  • Solve elementary problems on matrices and determinants

What you'll do

You'll experience guest lecturers from various organisations such as medical physicists, financial market modellers, aerospace engineers and astronomers. You'll also take part in site visits such as to the Medical Physics Department at the main Portsmouth hospital, Clanfield Observatory and BAE systems.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Carry out literature research and attend talks and visits to develop your understanding of the wider role of physics/space science in the global context
  • Recognise the use of physics in different fields such as energy, astronomy, cosmology and relativity, waves, gravity and heat, presenting your knowledge in posters and oral presentations
  • Describe a case study of a particular aspect of physics in various contexts
  • Discuss the changing historical context of physics and astronomy and describe the problems that come from the attempt to understand the main character of scientific knowledge
  • Plan and prepare a written popular essay in a form suitable for public communication
  • Show a clear understanding of physics in your essay and review scientific papers on the topic

Core modules

What you'll do

This module develops your understanding of the basic concepts of modern physics and how physics is used to understand matter at different scales.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Evaluate the limits of classical theory that lead to the development of quantum theory, the historical development of wave and matrix mechanics and problems with their interpretation
  • Analytically solve the time-dependent and time-independent Schrödinger equation for various potentials (including the hydrogen atom) showing how quantum numbers come about and predicting the structure of atomic and molecular spectra
  • Analyse radioactive decay processes and nuclear fission and fusion
  • Describe nuclear structure
  • Describe the fundamental forces and the organisation of elementary particles in the Standard Model
  • Describe current ideas and associated theory about the structure and evolution of the Universe and the nature of objects in the Universe
  • Solve numerical problems in quantum, atomic and nuclear physics

What you'll do

You'll develop problem-solving skills and learn how to analyse and solve physical problems through the design, execution and evaluation of mathematical, scientific and computer-based methods and principles. You'll get critical and reflective knowledge and understanding of mathematical techniques, and be able to question its principles, practices and boundaries, developing your confidence and creativity to try different approaches on challenging problems.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Analyse and solve physical problems using partial differential equations
  • Analyse and solve problems of electrodynamics using differential equations and differential vector operators
  • Develop higher level skills in the solution of physical problems using mathematical techniques
  • Solve problems in the application of special relativity and time independent perturbation theory in quantum mechanics

What you'll do

You'll learn how to come up with and test hypotheses, critically evaluate arguments, assumptions and data, make judgements and ask questions to get a solution, or get various solutions in line with the results of theoretical and/or computational models. You'll develop confidence and creativity when trying different approaches to challenging problems, work well as part of a team, and provide leadership to support the success of others. The portfolio assessment is a combination of lab notes, written reports, an oral presentation and a report on a selected topic, that follows the format of a scientific paper. 

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Evaluate literature and information from a variety of sources to frame, design and develop procedures and investigations to solve real-world problem scenarios
  • Plan, design and implement computational, lab and field investigations to solve problem scenarios, complying with safety standards
  • Evaluate the procedures (for improvement) and results, assessing the underlying physics, statistical significance, reliability, accuracy and usefulness of the data and the conclusions
  • Plan and prepare written reports of your investigations in the form of industry standard project reports and scientific publications
  • Plan and prepare poster and oral presentations of your investigations at a standard of the scientific conference
  • Critically evaluate your future options and demonstrate knowledge of the career and progression opportunities open to you

What you'll do

You'll learn about microscopic models of matter and how they aim to explain the observed properties of bulk matter, based on quantum theory and statistical mechanics. You'll also develop an understanding of the main microscopic description while getting to know the historical relevance of thermodynamics.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Interpret the key concepts of classical thermodynamics
  • Perform calculations based on those key concepts
  • Analyse the key limits that thermodynamics puts on any processes that aim to transform heat into mechanical work
  • Discuss the connections between the statistical description and the observed bulk properties of a thermodynamic system
  • Perform calculations coming from a statistical description

What you'll do

You'll also look at the theory behind geometric optics as a key area of physics, especially for modern optics and optical systems.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Understand the physics of oscillations including free, damped, forced and coupled oscillations, and resonance and normal modes
  • Discuss the physics of waves, including harmonics waves, waves in arbitrary shapes, sound waves and Doppler effect
  • Describe the basic principles behind Geometric optics, fundamentals of lasers, and optic cavities
  • Discuss the theory behind interference and diffraction at single and multiple apertures, including diffraction grating
  • Design and analyse the performance of a simple optical system in the lab on an optical bench and on a virtual system

Optional modules

What you'll do

You'll develop skills in deterministic and stochastic computational methods as well as with more sophisticated programming techniques. You'll also get an understanding of the modelling process with examples from astrophysics and applied physics.

To choose this module you have to take the Introduction to Computational Physics module in year one.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Create and analyse physical problems in terms of their key components and develop understandable mathematical models of physical systems shown as algorithms
  • Use appropriate numerical methods to solve detailed physics problems
  • Use computational methods for data analysis and visualisation
  • Clearly present the results of computer simulations in a scientific paper
  • Use good software engineering and optimisation practices to build scientific computing code

What you'll do

You'll then study linear and nonlinear differential and difference equations in the context of methods and techniques of dynamical systems.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Model simple mechanical systems (for example a double pendulum) in terms of coordinates and velocities
  • Derive a special function known as a ""Langrarian"", from which the equations of motion (a set of differential equations) are derived
  • Simulate/solve these equations, taking advantage of any symmetry in the model, to predict the behaviour of the system
  • Broaden the context of the study of differential/difference equations in general, both linear and nonlinear
  • Use special techniques to describe the qualitative behaviour of the solutions to these equations

What you'll do

You'll develop your understanding in celestial coordinate systems, telescope design, comparative planetology, stellar evolution, the formation and evolution of galaxies, and the dynamics and matter content Universe.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Derive and apply mathematical equations to solve astronomical problems
  • Identify and apply physical principles underlying the properties and behaviour of planets, stars and galaxies
  • Make astronomical observations and analyse the results with appropriate software

What you'll learn

The learning objectives of this module are to be confirmed.

Core modules

What you'll do

You'll learn how quantum physics also plays an increasing role in the development of new technologies that use quantum information. On this module you'll develop the theory and application skills to enable you to contribute to this expanding field.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Use advanced techniques in quantum theory to account for the observed quantum mechanical behaviour of light and matter
  • Discriminate and critically evaluate approaches to the interpretation of quantum theory
  • Create and solve problems in quantum theory and quantum information using Dirac notation
  • Analyse experiments in quantum optics and its applications in quantum information
  • Develop a critical understanding of the physics that make up quantum information schemes

What you'll do

Developments in physics are crucial in achieving sustainability and dealing with the effects of climate change. On this module you'll learn about solid state physics, condense matters and the technologies using them and new developments in detector technology.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Understand the theory and physical rules behind the foundation of bonding energy and crystal structures, magnetic properties and phonons
  • Explain mechanical and electrical properties of matter according to classical and quantum mechanics physics
  • Examine and explain core topics in semiconductor physics and the relevant properties of the materials used and band structure
  • Analyse and explain the operation and behaviour of solid state detectors
  • Compare and evaluate the benefits of different solid-state detectors and critically discuss the use of a particular solid state detector

Optional modules

What you'll do

You'll apply your knowledge of physics and mathematics to tackle problems that have been identified by commercial or research organisations. You'll take part in experimental investigation, theoretical work and/or modelling. Many of our projects are run with industrial input from companies such as DSTL, BAE Systems and Queen Alexandra Hospital.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Develop, plan, manage and execute a group research project organising and acting as a team to investigate, create and critically assess solutions to a problem
  • Search, retrieve and creatively combine evidence and information from relevant literature and each other to hypothesise, develop and test ideas to achieve project aims as a group
  • Demonstrate expertise and adapt or develop new skills or procedures to achieve project aims in the group
  • Use a variety of theoretical, experimental, observational, computational or other techniques combining information, theory and data to achieve project aims
  • Show your awareness and ability to manage implications of ethical demands in scientific research
  • Present a clear and concise report in a peer reviewed journal style and defend the project during a poster presentation

What you'll do

Through this module, you'll develop your understanding of the analysis of physical principles and how they're applied to techniques used in current healthcare and research settings. This module is assessed through a written summary of the topics covered, a presentation and a report on a selected topic, that follows the format of a scientific paper. 

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Analyse the physical basis of techniques used in current healthcare settings
  • Review and critically evaluate current literature about one application of physics in this setting

What you'll do

To choose this module, Physics students need to take the Mathematical Physics (level 5) and Introduction to Modern Physics and Astrophysics (level 5) modules.

To take this module, Maths students need to take the Applied Mathematics (level 5) module.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Analyse the 4-dimensional spacetime formulation of Special Relativity
  • Carry out basic calculations in tensor algebra and calculus, and apply these to physical problems
  • Apply Einstein field equations to the calculation of the simplest exact and approximate solutions for relativistic stars and black holes and in cosmology, as well as in the weak field regime and for gravitational waves
  • Analyse a problem and associate it with the physical and mathematical principle of General Relativity
  • Apply the specific mathematical techniques of General Relativity to solve exercises and problems, conceptualising and generalising from previously seen problems
  • Discuss the use of physical and mathematical principles and hypotheses in the solution of exercises and problems

What you'll do

On this module you'll get an introduction to solid-state multiferroic materials, the most interesting functional materials because of their rich properties that combine electric, magnetic and elastic order states in solids. When multiferroic materials combine with order states they display features that make them unique for technological applications and the purpose of this module is understand this emerging field of science and research.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Use the basic laws of physics to explain and predict the behaviour of functional materials
  • Design, evaluate and implement advanced applications based on magnetic, ferroelectric and piezo-ferroic materials
  • Critically asses the structural requirements of multiferroic material for sensors and systems
  • Design new potential technological applications based on advanced multiferroic materials

What you'll do

You'll also develop the mathematical techniques needed for applications of physics and scientific modelling, especially those grounded in theory.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Apply advanced matrix algebra, vector calculus and complex calculus to carry out calculations in physical problems
  • Analyse general properties of ordinary differential equations and apply their techniques to solve physical problems.
  • Identify types of partial differential equations (PDEs) and calculate the solution of simple PDEs using various techniques
  • Analyse a problem and link it to physical and mathematical principles
  • Apply specific mathematical techniques to the solution of exercises and problems using what you've learned in previous problems
  • Debate the use of physical and mathematical principles and hypotheses in the solution of exercises and problems

What you'll do

You'll consider  the physics of stars, black holes and galaxies, and their formation mechanisms. To choose this module, you need to take the Mathematical Physics, and Introduction to Modern Physics and Astrophysics module.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Analyse fundamental physical processes in astrophysics, and apply them to the physics of stars, black holes and galaxies in multiple contexts
  • Apply the physics of gravitational collapse to solve problems related to the formation of stars and galaxies, and compact objects
  • Demonstrate your understanding of fundamental nuclear reactions and energetic balance, and evaluate the energetics of stars and galaxies
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the quest for dark matter in galaxy formation and evolution and evaluate the observational evidence

What you'll do

This module will give you an advanced introduction to the physics and chemistry of materials at nanometre scales. You'll also learn about density functional theory (DFT), the concepts of the atomic and electronic structure of solids, and the basic numerical methods for calculating that structure.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Plan and conduct material growth with the use of Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) and use relevant in situ monitoring techniques such as Low Energy Electron Diffraction (LEED) and Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES)
  • Apply experimental and theoretical methods to characterise the properties of objects at the nanometre scale
  • Assess and interpret experimental and theoretical results

What you'll do

You'll look at the basic constituents of matter, the nature of the interactions between these constituents and how they describe the fundamental Universe, and you'll discuss the principles, technology and physics of particle accelerators and detectors. To choose this module, you need to take the Introduction to Modern Physics and Astrophysics module and the Mathematical Physics module.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Describe the main features of the Standard Model and its place in fundamental physics, including the key theoretical ideas and the experimental evidence
  • Apply mathematical symmetries to explain concepts of key particle physics
  • Critically evaluate how probing space-time at the smallest scales contributes to our understanding of the large-scale evolution of the Universe
  • Perform basic calculations of physically observable quantities to solve problems in particle physics
  • Discuss the basic experimental techniques used to build high energy accelerators and how they're applied in fixed target, collider and neutrino beam experiments at the energy and intensity frontiers
  • Understand the design, construction and physics of key particle physics detectors and sensors, and appreciate their application in other fields such as medical imaging

What you'll do

On this module you'll get an explanation of the big bang model and its success in explaining observations of primordial nucleosynthesis and the cosmic microwave background. You'll explore how gravitational collapse formed large scale structures and you'll explore theories of the very early universe, such as cosmological inflation.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Describe the observational evidence and theoretical basis for the big bang model of the universe
  • Work out the behaviour of a cosmological model filled with different types of matter, including radiation, dust, curvature and dark energy
  • Critically evaluate the observational evidence for dark matter and dark energy and how they're quantified in terms of their cosmological density
  • Apply the principles of thermodynamics to solve problems related to the thermal history of the universe, such as primordial nucleosynthesis and proton-electron recombination
  • Apply the physics of gravitational collapse to solve problems related to the formation of large scale structures
  • Critically evaluate the weaknesses in the big bang model and assess solutions offered by models of the very early universe, in particular cosmological inflation

What you'll do

The project involves a supervised, independent, extended investigation of a problem using theoretical, experimental, observational, computational or other techniques where needed. You'll increase your independence in learning and research methods as well as your initiative, originality, scientific creativity, technical judgement, analytical ability and communication skills. Many of our projects are run with industrial input from companies such as DSTL, BAE Systems and Queen Alexandra Hospital.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Independently develop, plan, manage and complete a research project to investigate, formulate and critically assess solutions to a defined problem
  • Search, retrieve and creatively combine evidence and information from relevant literature to hypothesise and develop ideas to achieve project aims
  • Show your expertise, adapting or developing new skills or procedures to achieve the project aims
  • Use theoretical, experimental, observational, computational or other techniques combining information, theory and data to achieve project aims
  • Show your awareness and ability to manage implications of ethical demands of scientific research
  • Present a clear and concise report in a peer reviewed journal style and defend the project during a poster presentation

What you'll do

You'll explore advanced regression modelling, modern statistical learning methods, the use of open source statistical tools, and forecasting methodologies. To choose this module, you need basic knowledge of probability, calculus and linear algebra.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Apply statistical learning techniques to business problems, and interpret your results
  • Use Python and/or R language to apply statistical learning techniques
  • Demonstrate understanding of the bias variance trade-off and cross validation
  • Fit and test general linear models to numerical and categorical data
  • Fit a variety of predictive models to real world data
  • Demonstrate understanding of advanced techniques such as regularisation, nonlinear models and clustering

What you'll do

Over ten half-days, you'll be mentored by a maths teacher as you gain experience of teaching mathematics, leading special projects and offering classroom support. To choose this module, you need to show you know the fundamental concepts of basic probability, calculus and linear algebra.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Demonstrate your understanding of teaching mathematics, and of educational theories and debates
  • Work in a challenging and unpredictable working environment
  • Communicate difficult principles or concepts, whether you're speaking one-to-one or to an audience
  • Reflect on stereotypes of mathematics and mathematicians, and how to combat them

Core modules

What you'll do

You'll use and develop your techniques in skills appropriate to your physics research, such as computer modelling, experimental laboratory work, experimental field work or theoretical analysis.

You'll also demonstrate your ability to plan a project, analyse existing literature, and interpret your own results.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Plan and execute a research project independently
  • Acquire, process, synthesise and critically evaluate experimental or theoretical modelling data
  • Find and combine evidence and information from relevant physics literature in order to develop ideas and hypotheses
  • Report on your work clearly, autonomously and confidently in academic and professional environments
  • Prepare and present research results in styles appropriate to a peer-reviewed journal
  • Understand and manage the ethical demands of scientific research

Optional modules

What you'll do

You'll look at Unix, the operating system most commonly used in university science, and Fortran, used for large-scale simulation codes. You'll optimize code to run faster, compile and run more complex codes, and submit jobs to massively parallel supercomputers. You'll also explore techniques for machine learning, the analysis of large datasets and signal processing.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Describe, appraise and use various computational methods to solve advanced-level physics problems
  • Construct computational models of complex physical systems, to help understand and solve problems
  • Use data to analyse models and their relation to real system behaviour, to identify weaknesses and limitations of the models, and to suggest possibilities for improvement
  • Write clear and concise critical reports describing computational models

What you'll do

You'll develop your experimentation skills by analysing data, and creating models to solve problems in materials science, nanotechnology, quantum technology or health physics. You'll learn to appreciate the power of experimental physics as a genuine human effort to understand nature in an environmentally friendly manner.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to demonstrate your skills and understanding in:

  • Sample manufacture using advanced instrumentation systems like Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) and/or Plasma Sputtering machines
  • Characterization methods using advanced instrumentation systems like Low Energy Electron Diffraction (LEED), Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), X-Ray Florescence (XRF), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Vibrating Sample Magnetometry (VSM), and relevant techniques
  • Optical or quantum optical characterization methods using advanced instrumentation systems like Time-Correlated Single Photon Counting (TCSPC) Fluorescence Lifetime, Photoluminescence (PL), Quantum Interference and Magneto-Optic Kerr Effect
  • Health and Medical Physics instrumentation operations and diagnostic methods using relevant instrumentation systems like X-ray and gamma-ray (nuclear medicine) imaging and topography, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and Ultrasound, single-photon tomography, positron emission tomography and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
  • Use of relevant data analysis methods as well as modelling and simulation approaches

What you'll do

We'll study the applications of quantum field theory in curved spacetime, such as black hole evaporation, inflationary fluctuations, and the cosmological constant problem.

The module will encourage you to develop a critical and reflective knowledge and understanding of the subject, independent thinking, analytical and creative problem-solving.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Perform basic calculations of particle production using quantum field theory in curved space-time
  • Discuss the thermodynamics of black holes and why they evaporate
  • Perform basic calculations of scalar field dynamics driving inflation in the very early universe and derive primordial power spectra from inflation

What you'll do

Working as part of a team, you'll complete a project-based Learning activity relating to a significant circuit simulation, as well as a design problem relating to a range of devices used in high frequency RF systems. You'll also attend lectures where you'll learn to understand the characteristics of high-speed circuit design.

You'll simulate circuits and/or devices at high frequencies, and analyse and tweak the results presented by simulation software. You'll then put this knowledge to use in the design and build of different blocks that make up a complex project.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Model and analyse high-speed interconnect phenomena.
  • Critically evaluate the behavioural and performance characteristics of electronic systems, taking account of high-speed effects.
  • Compare and contrast the key differences between simulated and realisable characteristics of at least one modern RF/microwave device or circuit through simulation, as well as the building or measurement of a given device.
  • Critically analyse and design a RF/Microwave block that is part of a bigger system, carefully considering its impact on the larger system and vice versa.

What you'll do

You'll contextualise structures in the universe in the largest spatial and temporal scales, using astrophysical modelling techniques such as equations of state for compact objects, dynamics of complex stellar systems, and the derivation of the physical properties of galaxies.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Analyse and apply fundamental physical processes in astrophysics
  • Demonstrate understanding of the physics of stellar structures and modelling of populations of stars
  • Demonstrate understanding of the physics of galaxies and calculate galaxy physical properties, such as masses and formation epochs
  • Demonstrate understanding of the relation between galaxies and galaxy components and the large-scale and cosmic scale structure
  • Analyse and critically compare equations of state for compact objects and normal stars
  • Demonstrate understanding of the equations of dynamics and motion of complex stellar systems

What you'll do

You'll study telescopes and detectors used in modern astronomy across the electromagnetic spectrum, and apply relevant statistical techniques and theories to the data they observe. You'll also examine key observational probes in cosmology, including galaxy clustering, baryon acoustic oscillations, redshift space distortions, gravitational lensing, and supernovae.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Apply your understanding of modern astronomical systems to calculations involving photometric and spectroscopic data
  • Demonstrate your ability to handle modern astronomical data and compare with astrophysical models
  • Apply physical principles of observational probes of cosmology, and solve problems in constraining cosmological parameters

Universe: Planetary System, Stars and Galaxies

Students, staff and partners from the Hampshire Astronomical Group explore what makes the Universe module special. 

Samantha Penny: This is part of a second year module called Universe: Planetary System, Stars and Galaxies. We get our maths and physics students together and see the science we're learning actually, in reality. 

Steve Broadbent: We've been in close partnership with the university for over 20 years now, and it offers the students an opportunity to use real equipment, which they don't get from lectures. 

Hannah Copley: It's really great that this is so near to the university that's such a great opportunity for us to take what we learn in lessons and actually practically do it for no extra cost. 

Samantha Penny: Portsmouth is a really built up, dense environment. There's lots of light pollution, but we only have to come a little way out and we've got some of the darkest skies in Hampshire right on our doorstep. 

Steve Broadbent: We've got five domes with various telescopes. The star attraction is a research grade 24-inch reflecting telescope. 

Hannah Copley: We study the universe, planets, stars, galaxies so that's definitely going to help in my end of year exams coming up. 

Ahmed Yahya: It's incredible to have these facilities in Portsmouth. It's an amazing opportunity that I am glad I didn't skip on. 

Samantha Penny: We combine the observatory visit with a visit to the nearby planetarium in Chichester, so the South Downs Planetarium. 

Sarah Brown: Tonight we've been looking at sunspots and all of the emissions from the sun, which has been epic. 

Samantha Penny: Despite being our closest star. I think there's so few people who actually have looked at the sun in detail, combining those lectures with trips to the observatory, seeing these things for themselves, I think really, really helps the students. 

Sarah Brown: I'm very glad I took this module because it's been really interesting. I've learned an awful lot. It's been a great experience. 

Hannah Copley: I think it's given me a big insight into after university the sort of things you can go into. 

Ahmed Yahya: It's amazing to see it with other people that have seen it so many times. The look in their eyes when you see it and start noticing things that they've seen a thousand times really made it something special. 

Changes to course content

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. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

Teaching

Teaching methods on this course include:

  • lectures
  • practical work
  • field work
  • seminars
  • workshops
  • projects

The focus of teaching on this course is on active learning, so you'll have the practical skills you need to succeed in your career.

Term dates

The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.

See term dates

How you're assessed

You’ll be assessed through:

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

You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

Supporting you

The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study in one-on-one and group sessions.

They can help you:

  • master the mathematics skills you need to excel on your course
  • understand engineering principles and how to apply them in any engineering discipline
  • solve computing problems relevant to your course
  • develop your knowledge of computer programming concepts and methods relevant to your course
  • understand and use assignment feedback

All our labs and practical spaces are staffed by qualified laboratory support staff. They’ll support you in scheduled lab sessions and can give you one-to-one help when you do practical research projects.

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University's Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • Academic writing
  • Note taking
  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Presentation skills
  • Referencing
  • Working in groups
  • Revision, memory and exam techniques

If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

The Maths Cafe offers advice and assistance with mathematical skills in a friendly, informal environment. You can come to our daily drop-in sessions, develop your mathematics skills at a workshop or use our online resources.

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

​Costs and funding

Tuition fees

Tuition fees (2024 start)

  • UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • EU students – £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
  • International students – £19,200 per year (subject to annual increase)

Funding your studies

Find out how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.

Additional course costs

These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.

Additional costs

Our accommodation section show your accommodation options and highlight how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.

You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.

You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.

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

 

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.

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.

During your placement year or study abroad year, you’ll be eligible for a discounted rate on your tuition fees. Currently, tuition fees for that year are:

  • UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £1,385 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • EU students – £1,385 a year, including Transition Scholarship (may be subject to annual increase)
  • International students – £2,875  a year (subject to annual increase)

The costs associated with your specific destination will be discussed during your second year, as well as possible sources of additional funding.

Apply

How to apply

To start this course in 2024, apply through UCAS. You'll need:

  • the UCAS course code – FF33 (BSc) or F302 (MPhys)
  • our institution code – P80

Apply now through UCAS (BSc)

Apply now through UCAS (MPhys)

 

If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form:

You can also sign up to an Open Day to:

  • Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
  • Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
  • Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join

If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.

Applying from outside the UK

As an international student you'll apply using the same process as UK students, but you’ll need to consider a few extra things. 

You can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.

Find out what additional information you need in our international students section

If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.

Contact information

Admissions

+44 (0) 23 9284 5566

Contact Admissions