This degree programme focuses on the theoretical and fundamental aspects of physics, and you will take modules leading to a knowledge of quantum theory and general relativity, essential to understanding the fundamental forces of particle physics and gravity. In your final year you have the opportunity to carry out a research project supervised by staff from the Centre for Research in String Theory
The theoretical physics programme builds on a strong foundation of core physics and mathematical methods modules towards an introduction to topical areas of research such as quantum field theory and general relativity. Theoretical Physics single honours can be taken as a three year BSc or four year MSci qualification. In the first and second years, the programmes cover topics extending from classical dynamics to quantum physics and special relativity, which are fundamental to our understanding of how the Universe works. In the third year, students learn about advanced mathematical techniques, symmetries and curved space-times. MSci students can then access advanced inter-collegiate courses in their fourth year, including quantum fields and supersymmetry. In their final year, students will have the opportunity to undertake projects in topics at the forefront of theoretical physics research such as string theory, black holes, large extra dimensions and scattering amplitudes.
Physicists play an increasingly important role in the modern world. The skills developed through the study of physics are highly valued in a large number of key employment sectors, including energy, construction, technology, communications and finance.
Why study Physics at Queen Mary
Follow your interests
Our programmes are informed by the work of leading academics, who teach our courses and supervise undergraduate research projects. Our areas of research strength are broad and include particle physics, astronomy, materials physics and theoretical physics, allowing you to gain a degree with a wide knowledge of physics or to specialise in a particular area. Further specialisation is possible through our intercollegiate MSci programmes, which share final year modules with other University of London institutions including Kings College London, UCL and Royal Holloway University of London. All of our courses are accredited by the Institute of Physics, which ensures consistent academic standards.
A friendly environment
The school combines the academic rigour and high standards of a Russell Group institution with a friendly and supportive atmosphere. The School is always highly rated by students in the National Student Survey (NSS) and has been voted first in London for overall satisfaction the last three years running (NSS 2013, 2014, 2015).
Facilities fitted as part of a £12m refurbishment in 2014 include our teaching laboratories, complete with spacious general-purpose workstations, and a wide selection of scientific equipment, including interferometers, oscilloscopes, muon detectors and X-ray equipment. Our new observatory on the roof of the physics building is equipped with a Celestron C14 and Coronado solar telescope, which is used by undergraduates during their research projects.
In addition to the suite of skills that you will develop through your study of Physics or Astronomy, you will also have the opportunity to build valuable work experience and transferable skills through specialist careers and employability support. (See “Graduate employment” tab)
A variety of options to study abroad are open to you, and you can apply to spend a semester or a full year abroad. We have links with universities around the world, including Europe, America and Asia. In addition, the top two students on the Astrophysics programme will be offered internships at the Skinakas Observatory in Crete during the summer of their penultimate year.
While there is no extra tuition fees associated with these placements abroad, you will need to cover the cost of your transport to your destination and your living expenses, including accommodation.
For information on these activities and to find out more on studying Physics at Queen Mary, please visit www.ph.qmul.ac.uk
You can also keep up to date with us on Facebook and Twitter.
For further information you can also call the Enquiries Hotline (UK callers only) on Freephone
0800 376 1800.
International students should contact the Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5511
- Scientific Measurement
- Classical Physics
- Modern Physics
- Mathematical Techniques 1
- Mathematical Techniques 2
- Electric and Magnetic Fields
- Professional Skills for Scientists (including introduction to programming)
One option from:
- Our Universe
- Energy and Environment Physics
• Compulsory Modules
• Thermal and Kinetic Physics
• Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics
• Mathematical Techniques 3
• Electromagnetic Waves & Optics
• Condensed Matter A
• Physical Dynamics
• Quantum Mechanics A
One option from
• Physics Laboratory
• Physics of Energy
• Environment or Stars
• Compulsory Modules
• Synoptic Physics
• Space Time & Gravity
• Quantum Mechanics B
• Physics Review Project
• Statistical Physics
• Mathematical Techniques 4
• Quantum Mechanics and Symmetry
Two options from
• Elementary Particle Physics
• Fluid Dynamics
• Group Projects for Physicists
• Radiation Detectors
• Physical Cosmology
• Condensed Matter B
• Statistical Data Analysis
• Physics of Galaxies
The fourth year of the MSci consists of taking modules from across the University of London MSci group, consisting of QMUL, UCL, Kings and Royal Holloway.
•Physics Research Project
•Relativity Waves and Quantum Fields
• Statistical Mechanics
Two options from the full list of MSci modules available from Queen Mary, UCL, Kings and Royal Holloway. The below list gives an indicative list of some of the modules
• Particle Physics
• Particle Accelerator Physics
• Phase Transitions
• Advanced Quantum Field Theory
• Electromagnetic Theory
• Galaxy and Cluster Dynamics
• Atom and Photon Physics
• Electronic Structure Methods
• Physics at the Nanoscale
• Computing and Statistical Data Analysis
• Astrophysical Plasmas
• Advanced Cosmology
• Mathematical Methods for Theoretical Physics
• Lie Groups and Lie Algebras
• Solar System
• Solar Physics
• Stellar Structure and Evolution
• Theory of Complex Networks
• Equilibrium Analysis of Complex Systems
• Elements of Statistical Learning
• Quantum Computation and Communication
• Molecular Physics
• Order and Excitations in Condensed Matter
• Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
• Relativity and Gravitation
• Space Plasma and Magnetospheric Physics
• Theoretical Treatment of Nano-Systems
• Planetary Atmospheres
• Extrasolar Planets and Astrophysical Discs
• The Galaxy
• Standard Model Physics and Beyond
• String Theory and Branes
• Molecular Biophysics
• Dynamical Analysis of Complex Systems
• Mathematical Biology
2018 Entry requirements
|A-Level||Grades AAB at A-Level. This must include grade A or above in both A-Level Mathematics and Physics. Excludes General Studies.|
|IB||International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum of 34 points overall, including 6,6,5 from three Higher Level subjects. This must include a minimum of 6 in both Higher Level Mathematics, and Higher Level Physics.|
|BTEC||See our detailed subject and grade requirements|
|Access HE||We consider applications from students with the Access to Higher Education Diploma in a Physics, Mathematics or Science based discipline. The minimum academic requirement is to achieve 60 credits overall, with 45 credits at Level 3, of which 33 credits must be at Distinction and 12 credits at Merit or higher. This must include Maths and Physics modules. Applications are considered on a case by case basis.|
|GCSE||Minimum five GCSE passes including English and Maths at grade C or 4.|
|Contextualised admissions||We consider every application on its individual merits and will take into consideration your individual educational experiences and context. More information on how academic schools and programmes use this information as part of the admissions process, can be found on our contextualised admissions pages.|
2017 Entry requirements
Grades required: BSc programmes: grades AAB-ABB. Applicants should aim to achieve grades A and B at A-level in physics and mathematics. MSci programmes: a total of 340 tariff points. Applicants should aim to achieve grade A at A-level in physics and mathematics. If you do not perform as well in one subject and do better in others, then that is acceptable, providing you gain the minimum number of points required for the degree programme.
Additional information: General studies should not be included in the points tariff.
Acceptability: Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications.
Subjects and grades required: BSc programmes: 30-34 points overall with 6 in both Higher Level physics and Higher Level mathematics. MSci programmes: 34 points overall with 6 in both HL physics and HL mathematics.
Acceptability: Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications.
Subjects and grades required: BSc entry: 75 per cent overall 7/6 in maths/physics in any order. MSci entry: 80 per cent overall with 7 in maths and physics.
For information on these activities and to find out more on studying physics at Queen Mary, please visit www.ph.qmul.ac.uk
You can also keep up to date with us on Facebook and Twitter.
General Admissions Entry Requirements
English Language Proficiency
All applicants to QMUL must show they meet a minimum academic English language standard for admission and to be successful on the course, to the indicated levels for the area of study. See our guidance on English Language requirements for all degree programmes.
Vocational and Other Qualifications
The College accepts a wide range of qualifications such as Access and Foundation programmes, vocational awards, Irish Leaving Certificate, Scottish Highers and other Baccalaureates. You are advised to contact the Admissions team (email@example.com) before making an application so that we can give individual advice.
Admission is based on academic merit and on the proven ability of the applicant to achieve success on their chosen programme of study. Every application to Queen Mary is considered on its individual merits with personal statement and reference taken into consideration.
If you are taking a combination of qualifications at Level 3, we will consider your academic profile and may make offers on a case-by-case basis. You are advised to contact the Admissions team (firstname.lastname@example.org) before making an application so that we can give individual advice.
Subject to the policy of the programme, it may be possible for students to join undergraduate degree programmes at the beginning of the second year of a three or four year degree programme or, sometimes, the beginning of the third year of a four year programme. Please note, not all schools will consider advanced entry. You are advised to contact the Admissions team (email@example.com) before making an application for individual advice.
If you are applying for advanced entry on the basis of a post A-Level qualification, such as the BTEC HND, you should apply via UCAS in the usual way. If you wish to transfer your degree studies from another UK higher education institution, you will be considered on the basis of your original A-Level or equivalent qualifications, current syllabus, academic references and results.
We typically expect you to have achieved a 2.1 standard on your current programme and have already met the standard equivalent first year entry requirements. Applications must be submitted via UCAS.
European and International Applicants
Our students come from over 162 countries and we accept a wide range of European and International Qualifications for entry, in addition to A-Levels, the International Baccalaureate and BTEC qualifications. Please see our International Admissions webpages for further details of our academic requirements, and information regarding how we assess the equivalence of your qualification.
Applicants will typically be expected to be taking academic subjects relevant to the programme of study. You are advised to review the A-Level and IB requirements for an indication of these subjects. If you are at all unclear, the Admissions team (firstname.lastname@example.org) is happy to advise you further.
For any other enquiries directly relating to our entry requirements, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office directly.
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 5511
See our information and guidance on how to apply.
Learning and teachingLearning and Teaching:
In your first year you will have approximately 18 hours of direct contact hours per week. This will consist of a combination of lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions. Most modules have three hours a week of lectures and at least one hour a week of tutorials.
Lectures consist of a member of academic staff delivering a formal lecture on a given topic. Tutorials (also known as exercise classes) are designed to support the lectures and provide students with an opportunity to work through examples and problems.
Laboratory sessions are used to develop your experimental skills and also support report writing and error estimation (both important skills for physicists).
In your final year you will undertake a research project that will involve working closely with a member of academic staff on a specified research topic. This could include laboratory or technical work (such as building a muon detector) or could focus on mathematical theoretical models.
At university you will also be expected to undertake a large amount of independent study. In Physics we expect students to undertake at least 2 hours of independent study for each hour of teaching in your first year. In later years you will be expected to do a lot more, especially for the final year projects. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; assessing data from experiments; completing lab reports; and revising for examinations.
The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study and laboratory sessions you attend, along with your reading and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability. Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.
Modules are assessed depending on the nature of the work being carried out. For example, if the module involves practical work only, the assessment will be based on laboratory reports alone. For the non-practical modules you will have various combinations of assessment including weekly coursework, termly assignments and an end-of-year examination. For further information regarding assessment for specific modules, see: www.ph.qmul.ac.uk
Fees and finance
Tuition fees for Home and EU students
Tuition fees for International students
You can either take out a Tuition Fee Loan (see Funding section below) to pay your fees or, if you are paying them yourself, you can pay in instalments.
Tuition fees for a year abroad or placement year on a full time undergraduate course will be a proportion of the full fee for the year in which you commence your time abroad or placement.
For information on field trip and other course related costs which are not included in your tuition fee, please contact the relevant Department/School.
See more general information about fees.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 7676
Queen Mary has a substantial package of scholarships and bursaries which will benefit around 50 per cent of our undergraduate student body.
Scholarships and Bursaries available at Queen Mary for Home/EU Students
There are a number of scholarships and bursaries available each year for home students. Visit our Bursaries and Scholarships page for more information.
Visit our Advice and Counselling website for more information about financial support.
Scholarships available at Queen Mary for International Students
There are a number of Scholarships available each year for International Students including bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas.
Find out more about international scholarships.
Some International students may also be eligible for a fee reduction.
Loans and Grants available to help with tuition fees and living costs
Student Finance England administers all grant and loans for your studies if you normally live in England.
Through Student Finance England, you can apply for (figures relate to programmes starting from September 2016):
- A Tuition Fee Loan of up to £9,000 to pay all or part of your fees
- A Maintenance Loan of up to £10,702 to help pay your living costs like rent, food and travel
- Extra grants if you have a disability or you have children or an adult dependant
- You might get a grant to cover some travel expenses if you normally live in England but study away from home. If you’re a medical or dental student you might also qualify for help with the costs of attending clinical placements in the UK.
Visit Student Finance Information to find out more about:
- How to apply for student finance
- What eligibility rules apply, including if you already have a degree or previous higher education study
- What the income thresholds are and how much you might personally get for each element of Student Finance
- What to do if you have problems getting your Student Finance
Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary
We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.
Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:
- Additional sources of funding
- Planning your budget and cutting costs
- Part-time and vacation work
- Money for lone parents
For more information visit the Advice and Counselling service website, or call +44 (0)20 7882 8717.
Graduates from Queen Mary’s School of Physics and Astronomy go on to work in a wide variety of careers. Some apply their degree knowledge directly, entering careers such as lecturer or science communicator, whilst others transfer skills gained during study into areas such as finance, IT or the army.
The national 2012 destination survey confirmed that 67% of graduates from the School of Physics and Astronomy were in employment and/or study six months after graduation, with 83% already working/studying at graduate level. The School’s graduates have a strong earning power, with a median salary of £26,666.
The broad range of skills gained through this course, coupled with multiple opportunities for extra-curricular activities and work experience, has enabled students to move into careers such as:
- Software Engineer - Avande
- Interest Rates Structurer - Morgan Stanley
- Researcher - VUB
- Science Communicator - Royal Observatory
- Campaign Analyst - Financial Times
- Information Systems Officer - Kent County Council
- Maths Lecturer - King’s College London
- Resident Tutor - Wycombe Abbey School
- Officer Cadet - The British Army
- Project Manager - Whitemore High School
Throughout the course, students have access to an annual QM Careers and Enterprise Centre programme, to prepare them for internships and graduate level work. This includes employer led workshops on job applications and interviews as well as over 70 employer events to facilitate networks and help students to explore their options. Recent careers events for School of Physics and Astronomy students include support with internship applications and a job hunting workshop.
Opportunities for work experience are substantial given Queen Mary’s location between Canary Wharf, the City and the Olympic Village. Students are encouraged to build their work experience throughout their period of study, through, for example, our QProjects work experience scheme, our QRecruit internships and temporary work hub, the part time work Experience Works event and QMSU Provide volunteering services. Over 1400 vacancies are available to browse on the QM JobOnline vacancy site.
Queen Mary’s extensive campus also provides over 1200 on-campus job and volunteer opportunities ranging from Science Ambassador to E-learning Assistant and from Society President to Student Mentor.
Read more about our careers programmes and range of work experience opportunities on the QM Careers and Enterprise Centre pages.
Studied: BSc Theoretical Physics
Currently: Teaching Physics in a secondary school, after completing a PGCE at King’s College, University of London.
Why did you choose Queen Mary?
"I chose Queen Mary because of its location and distance from home. The size of the School of Physics was another factor as it has a high staff/student ratio, which allowed the lecturers to get to know the students. This added to the friendly atmosphere which made me feel welcome. Queen Mary also has a wonderful library as well as an established Students’ Union."
What did you gain from your time at Queen Mary?
"A good education in the subject that I love as well as making friends I am still in contact with. The support staff and lecturers have an informal open door policy which helped greatly when I needed help with anything. Pete and Ted, the lab technicians, always provided support with experiments, physics problems or time to just have an informal chat. After studying physics for three years you gain an insight in to how wonderful the subject is as well as realising how little you still know at the end. It really does open your eyes to the world around you. I still enjoy the subject immensely and try to enthuse my pupils about physics every day."
What are your career plans in the next five years?
"I want to establish myself in teaching by becoming Head of Physics at a school. After a few years I would like to study for a PhD in String Theory or Nanotechnology."