Undergraduate menu

Science and Engineering Foundation Programme (Physics 5 year)

FFY3 MSci (Hons) 5 years



The Science and Engineering Foundation Programme (SEFP) at Queen Mary is one of the longest established and most highly-regarded foundation programmes in the UK. The foundation year of this programme is designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to undertake undergraduate degrees in the fields of science and engineering.

The SEFP is open to both home and international students. The foundation year of this programme prepares students for entry to the first year of BSc/BEng degree programmes in the following departments at Queen Mary: Biological and Chemical Sciences, Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Materials Science, Environmental Science, Mathematics and Physics. The programme is taught entirely at the Mile End campus by university staff. Foundation students have access to all Queen Mary's facilities and are full-time students of the University.

Why study the Science and Engineering Foundation Programme at Queen Mary?

The Science and Engineering Foundation Programme (SEFP) is administered by the School of Biological & Chemical Sciences, on behalf of all the participating departments, and the main office is based at the Mile End campus. Most students entering onto the SEFP at Queen Mary do so with the intention of proceeding onto a BSc or BEng degree course (or, in some cases, a MSci/MEng course) here at Queen Mary.

Students on the SEFP at Queen Mary benefit from:

• studying at a campus university, located with easy reach of all London's main attractions, yet still having a wide-range of modern accommodation located on an attractive campus

• a teaching programme which is based on the main campus, permitting students to have full-access to all the normal student facilities (academic, welfare, IT, library, social, sport etc.)

• experienced and enthusiastic teaching staff, many of whom are also involved in teaching other undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Queen Mary

• the opportunity to proceed onto degrees in a very wide range of subjects including: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Environmental Science, Materials Science, Mathematics and Physics. (List of: Degree Programmes available to SEFP Students)


The 5 year (Msci) Physics with Foundation is as follows


¿ Physics - Mechanics and Materials
¿ Physics - Fields and Waves
¿ Physics - Electricity and Atomic Physics
¿ Mathematics I
¿ Mathematics II

One from
¿ Introductory Chemistry 
¿ Essential Foundation Mathematics
One from:
¿ English Language I
¿ Communication in Science & Technology

One from
¿ A Closer Look at Chemistry
¿ Molecules to Cells 
¿ Discrete Maths
¿ Business Management
¿Communication in Science & Technology ( compulsory for students who took English Language 1)

Entry requirements

This programme requires ATAS clearance. Students who are not EEA or Swiss nationals may require ATAS clearance to undertake this course. The JACS code for this course is H100. Further information on ATAS can be found on our Advice and Counselling webpages.

Untitled Document


In the sections below, you will find an indication of the requirements for admission onto the SEFP. However, if you would like to discuss your individual situation, contact the SEFP admissions team via email at physics@qmul.ac.uk.
UK Applicants
Admissions requirements vary according to the subject area (i.e. the type of degree you wish to follow after the foundation year) but are lower than the requirements for direct entry to a three-year BSc/BEng degree course. As a general guide, recent school-leavers must normally have at least 240 UCAS points, including passes in two relevant subjects at A-level, before they can be considered for entry to the SEFP. Offers of entry to some SEFP programme codes may however be significantly higher than this minimum requirement. Higher grades are also generally required of students who have taken A-levels in other subjects and are now looking to make the transition to a degree in science or engineering.

Applications from mature students will be considered on an individual basis, taking account of both educational background and other relevant experience.
More information on entry requirements for specific subject areas is available using the following links:

International applicants
Normally you must have completed at least a high school diploma, grade 12, or its equivalent level of schooling in your own country. You must have good high school results and should have studied science or mathematics to an advanced level. Applications from students with international A-levels in science and or mathematics are also welcome.

Students are required to have a UKBA Secured English Language Test, namely IELTS or Academic Pearson Test of English (PTE.) The minimum requirements for admission to the SEFP are: IELTS overall minimum of 6.0; PTE overall minimum of 53.

References and interviews are also important. However, each application is assessed individually and international applicants are welcome to contact Dr Priscilla Cunnan via e-mail (p.cunnan@qmul.ac.uk) to discuss their own particular situation before applying.

E-mail: sefp@qmul.ac.uk
Tel: 020 7882 7960 (from UK)
or +44 20 7882 7960 (from overseas)
Fax: 020 8983 0973 (from UK)
or +44 20 8983 0973 (from overseas)

When you apply for the SEFP, we require you to identify the general field of study which you would wish to study after completing the foundation year - this determines the programme code, as described on the how to apply webpage.

The degree courses available through the SEFP programme include the majority of degree courses offered by the departments and schools listed below:

¿ School of Biological and Chemical Sciences
¿ School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science
¿ School of Engineering and Materials Science
¿ School of Mathematical Sciences
¿ School of Physics and Astronomy
¿ Environmental Sciences (Department of Geography)

It is important for you to appreciate that (as well as meeting the minimum overall SEFP requirements for progression) you must pass all the core modules for your particular programme and also meet the progression requirements specified by the relevant department, in order to progress onto your chosen degree course - for popular degree programmes (such as Biomedical Sciences) these progression criteria can be quite demanding.
However, if you fail to meet the progression criteria for your first-choice degree programme, but you have been admitted onto the SEFP as a student of an "integrated" 4/5-year degree programme with foundation year and you do manage to pass six modules, including all the core modules for your programme, then we will still offer you the opportunity to proceed onto a degree course in a closely-related area.

We also realise that some students may rethink what they want to do once they start at university, and it may be possible to change your choice of degree course once you have started the SEFP. To do this, you would need to talk to the Academic Director as soon as possible, as this is likely to affect the modules that you must take during the foundation year. We cannot, however, guarantee that such transfers will always be possible and you would need the agreement of both departments involved in such a transfer before it would be permitted.


Learning and teaching


Learning and Teaching:
The academic year of the main SEFP, starting in September, is divided into two 12-week teaching semesters followed by a 6-week examination period in May and early-June. Each student in the foundation year is registered for eight modules, taken over the two teaching semesters. Your choice of modules will be determined partly by the departmental requirements for the degree course that you want to go on to study, and partly by your own educational background. The SEFP Academic Director and your departmental advisor will help you choose the modules best suited to you.

All students are required to take one module which provides training in academic writing and communication skills, as well as two modules of mathematics, to ensure that they are appropriately prepared for further degree-level study in the science and engineering fields. International students will also generally be required to take a further English language course. The remaining modules are then selected from the wide range offered by the programme in the areas of biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, further mathematics and business management (for more details, see course units ).

Independent study:
At university you will also be expected to undertake a large amount of independent study. 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.


In order to pass a module you must achieve an overall mark of 40% or above. The overall mark in most modules is based on your performance in both the examination and coursework; the weighting of these two components typically being 70% for the examination and 30% for the coursework.
Past experience shows that those students who fully-engage with the foundation programme (i.e. attend all classes, and complete all the coursework assignments) are much more likely to successfully make the transition from the foundation year into the first year of a degree course. We therefore insist that students on the programme attend a minimum of 75% of all scheduled classes (and submit a corresponding level of coursework assignments) in each module.

A failure to meet these requirements can result in deregistration and termination of enrolment as a student at Queen Mary.
If you have been admitted onto the SEFP as a student of an "integrated" 4/5-year degree programme with foundation year, then you must complete and pass a minimum of six modules, including a pass in the Communication in Science & Technology module, in order to be considered for progression from the foundation year into the first year of a Queen Mary degree programme. You must also pass any core modules for the specific programme on which you are registered (for more details, see the list of core modules ).

In order to gain progression to a particular degree programme you will normally also be required to achieve specific levels of performance in those modules which are regarded as essential for this chosen degree programme.

For example, the progression criteria that need to be met for an SEFP student on the FFY3 programme to progress into the first-year of the MSci Physics degree programme are (for the 2011/12 academic session): an average of 50% over all 8 modules, including a pass in the Communication in Science & Technology module, passes in two mathematics modules (SEF001, SEF002) and passes in three physics modules (SEF005, SEF006, SEF007).
Details of these progression criteria are provided in the SEFP Student Handbook, which is issued to all students at the start of the programme.
Any student who fails to meet the progression hurdles at the first attempt, are offered the opportunity to resit examinations in August, before the start of the next academic session.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2018/19 Academic Year
Full-time £9,250

Tuition fees for International students

2018/19 Academic Year
Full-time £16,950

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
email: fees@qmul.ac.uk


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.

If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you have an equivalent Student Finance department for your region.

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.

Graduate employment


Name: Ellen Wilson
Studied: Science and Engineering Programme  
Current programme of study Physics MSci

“It really helped to get my maths up to scratch for first year and gave me the opportunity to see what university life was like so I was nicely settled when it came to the start of first year. It also allowed me to better explore my degree options, allowing me to swap from the BSc to the integrated masters”.
“I really enjoy the range and flexibility of modules I can choose, I am not limited to only straight physics, instead I can take astrophysics modules which is something I am interested in also”.
“The modules I have enjoyed the most so far are Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics, Our Universe and Thermodynamics. They are very practical and interesting to me and I especially enjoy the lectures and the way they are delivered”.
“I like how many opportunities are open to me, I work as an ambassador for the department work and have had plenty of support through the careers office. Ambassador’s work particularly has helped build my confidence and introduced me to science outreach”.
“I am currently very interested in science communication and would like to pursue it in the future”.

Name: Honor Elliott
Studied: Science and Engineering Programme
Graduated 2017, BSc Astrophysics (first class honours)

“I liked the foundation programme because it made me feel more comfortable in my first year of the BSc. The transition to university education can be hard for some and the foundation year made it feel like a smaller jump, giving me an extra year to settle in before my degree properly kicked in. This allowed me to concentrate harder on the physics and less on other distractions in first year, which I believe had a positive impact on my final grade. It was also useful to get a better idea of what was to come; we met many of the academics who would be teaching us in the BSc, and what we were taught was always relevant to preparing us for the next three years”.

“The things I enjoyed about the foundation year are the same as with the rest of my time at university; the people there with you that make all the work easier and enjoyable. There were many students from the foundation programme who continued on to do BSc physics with me and it was great to already have friends and know faces, and likewise with the departmental staff and academics. It was also nice to mix with other departments in the university and meet students going onto study other subjects. Aside from the core physics and maths modules, we were able to choose from a few additional ones. I took an engineering module and got an introduction to university engineering as a little bonus!” 

“I hadn't taken maths at A Level and wasn't confident I'd be any good at it! It was amazing to learn almost two years' worth of A Level maths in one; it was intense but I felt like throwing myself in at the deep end ensured I was focused and made the most of it. I took advantage of all the extra support available, including library drop-in sessions with the lecturer or PhD students, and it felt like I started to really understand the subject, something I had never experienced during school. Despite obviously thinking the physics modules would be my favourite, I genuinely really loved the challenge that the maths modules gave me and felt most accomplished once I'd completed these”.

“The department were all so welcoming from the first time I visited, it has a real community feel and if you choose to, it's really easy to get to know all the students and staff. I loved the dynamic between academics and students, I never felt inferior or worried about asking questions, which I think was key to me doing well. Staff genuinely cared about my performance and intervened when necessary to ensure I reached my potential, resulting in eventually obtaining a first that I do not think I would have got if I did not have access to so much support. It felt like the department and QM really valued students' feedback and were constantly looking for potential improvements to the course and our experience”.

Return to top