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Theoretical Physics

F323 MSci (Hons) 4 years


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).

Excellent facilities

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. 

Excellent training

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)

Study abroad

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.

Further info

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
email: admissions@qmul.ac.uk


Year 1

Compulsory modules:

  • 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 

Year 2
•    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

Year 3
•    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

Year 4
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
•Electromagnetic Theory
•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

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 F340. Further information on ATAS can be found on our Advice and Counselling webpages.

General Admission Entry Requirements can be found below.

2018 Entry requirements

A-LevelGrades AAB at A-Level. This must include grade A or above in both A-Level Mathematics and Physics. Excludes General Studies.
IBInternational 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.
BTECSee our detailed subject and grade requirements
GCSEMinimum five GCSE passes including English and Maths at grade C or 4.
Contextualised admissionsWe 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.

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 (admissions@qmul.ac.uk) 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.

Combined Qualifications

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 (admissions@qmul.ac.uk) before making an application so that we can give individual advice.

Advanced Entry

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 (admissions@qmul.ac.uk) 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.

Non-UK students

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 (admissions@qmul.ac.uk) is happy to advise you further.

Further Information

For any other enquiries directly relating to our entry requirements, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office directly.
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 5511
Email: admissions@qmul.ac.uk

See our information and guidance on how to apply.

Learning and teaching

You will learn through a combination of lectures, laboratory sessions and tutorial classes. Your total contact or teaching time will be around 20 hours per week, but you are expected to spend time on independent study and coursework or lab reports. Overall this means that you should be spending 30-40 hours on your studies each week.

Explore teaching and learning in the School of Physics and Astronomy further through the links below:

School facilities




Research projects

Supporting your studies

Independent study

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 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 £19,000

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

Graduates from the School of Physics and Astronomy go on to work in a wide variety of careers. Some transfer skills gained during study into areas such as finance or IT. Other graduates continue to a higher degree such as a PhD or MSc, often as a precursor to a career in physics research. 

You will graduate with an impressive array of skills including:

  • high-level numeracy and data analysis skills
  • excellent IT and coding expertise
  • problem-solving skills
  • reporting and communication skills
  • practical laboratory skills. 

A report by the Institute of Physics in 2012 showed that

physics graduates in employment earned 14% more than the average graduate salary.


What our graduates do¿

Recent graduates from the School have gone into roles such as:

Econometrician Media Com

Client and IoT Software Application Engineer Intel

Web App development consultant Kings Research Consultancy

PhD Student University of Oxford

Graduate Account Manager Dunn and Bradstreet

Digital campaign manager ESI media

Consultant Bluefin Solutions

Trainee Healthcare Scientist, Medical Physics – NHS

Associate Technical Consultant – Open Symmetry (management consulting)


Careers and Employability Support

Undergraduates at the School of Physics and Astronomy have access to a huge range of resources and opportunities designed to add to the already impressive skill set developed through the study of physics or astronomy.

Exclusive work placements for School of Physics and Astronomy Students

In 2016, 21 School of Physics and Astronomy students took advantage of the exclusive work placements organised through SEPnet. 83 placements were made available to students across the nine SEPnet partner universities. These placements are co-ordinated by the School’s own SEPnet placement co-ordinator, who also provides support to students in applying.


Case study: From SEPnet placement to Graduate Scheme.

2016 graduate Kris Statham had undertaken a SEPnet placement at Ultra Electronics last year. 

He was invited to apply for the company’s graduate scheme, and succeeded in securing a graduate position.


Participating companies in the placement scheme include small and medium-sized enterprises operating in industries such as technology, energy and defence. In addition, larger companies operating in industries such as aerospace, engineering and research also offered an internship as part of the scheme.


In a survey of students undertaking internships,

100% of SEPnet interns said their internship has helped their career prospects

(source SEPnet student survey, 2014).


Research Internships

Each year, the School of Physics and Astronomy funds up to eight research internships in the School’s four research groups

Research internships give first hand insight into life as a researcher and boost students’ experience in a particular field as well as building important research skills. These skills can be applied in an academic career as well as being highly complementary to final year project work.

The internships typically have a bursary of £1,400 which covers approximately 6 weeks of research working at 20 hours a week.

Work as a Physics Ambassador

Each year we employ engaging undergraduate and postgraduate students for paid work helping the Outreach Team. Ambassadors help run a wide range of fun, engaging events for schools and the public, building transferrable skills as you earn!

Programmes available to all QMUL students

In addition to placements specific to Physics and Astronomy students, all QMUL students have access to a wide range of work experience. The programmes and opportunities listed below are just a portion of the support offered to QMUL students by our Careers and Enterprise Centre, which also co-ordinates one-to-one guidance, careers events and skills training, as well as support for students with their own business ideas.


QProjects won the Guardian Employability Award in 2014. The scheme offers exciting work experience opportunities in a range of local charities


Qinterns sources bespoke internship opportunities for QMUL students and recent graduates.

Qconsult supported by JPMorgan

Businesses provide a team of 5 students with a short project brief outlining a business problem. Past projects have involved marketing and business development, product development or reviewing policies and processes.


QResearchers is a paid undergraduate research scheme. The aims of the scheme are to raise students’ potential interest in postgraduate study, develop transferable and employability skills.


Our on-campus recruitment agency finding paid part time and temporary roles for our students.

London Councils Internship Programme (from The Careers Group, University of London)

One of many internship and employability programmes available to QMUL students through our membership of the University of London.





Amira Mahmood
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."
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