This course is closed
for Clearing 2022
This course is closed for Clearing 2022
If you would like to study at Warwick, there are other courses available for 2022 entry.
Bachelor of Science (BSc)
3 years full-time
27 September 2021
Department of Study
Department of Physics
Location of Study
University of Warwick
Physics deals with fundamental questions about the Universe, and with many of the important technological and environmental issues of our time. At undergraduate level, it involves studying some beautiful theories about the properties of space and matter, and developing valuable transferable skills. Studying Physics will give you benefits that last a lifetime, and knowledge and skills that are highly valued by employers.
This course is accredited by the Institute of Physics
Designed to bring out the beauty and universality of physics, our flexible Physics course provides broad and in-depth teaching that’s informed by our research. Core modules introduce and develop the fundamental concepts, such as those of quantum theory and electromagnetism, and cover the mathematics used in physics. Optional modules provide opportunities to see how the basic concepts can explain the phenomena we observe. For the final year project, you’ll work as a member of one of the research groups on a year-long project to explore aspects that are not yet fully understood. We encourage you to apply for summer placements and projects, which enable you to complete a small research project supervised by a member of the academic staff.
Further in-depth information can be found in the Physics undergraduate brochure.
The structure of the course reflects the structure of the subject. You will take core lecture modules (concentrated mainly in the first two years), which introduce and develop the fundamental concepts, such as those of quantum theory and electromagnetism, and cover the mathematics used in physics.
You will also choose modules from lists of options. These are largely concerned with seeing how the basic concepts can explain the phenomena we observe. Examples include the light emitted and absorbed by stellar matter, and the response of the liquids, solids and gases, which we meet on a daily basis, to the mechanical, electrical and thermal forces acting on them.
In the first year, you take essential (core) modules and choose at least one more module from a list of options. In the second and third years there is considerable freedom to choose modules. By then you will have a good idea of your main interests and be well placed to decide which areas to study in greater depth. In effect you design your own degree.
You should expect to attend around 12 lectures a week and spend 7 hours on supervised practical (mainly laboratory and computing) work. For each 1 hour lecture, you should expect to put in a further 1-2 hours of private study.
Lecture size will naturally vary from module to module. The first year core modules may have up to 350 students in a session, whilst the more specialist modules in the later years will have fewer than 100. The core modules in the first year are supported by weekly classes, at which you and your fellow students meet in small groups with a member of the research staff or a postgraduate student. Tutorials with your personal tutor is normally with a group of 5 students.
How will I be assessed?
In any year, about 30% of the overall mark is assigned to coursework.
The weighting for each year's contribution to your final mark is 10:30:60 for the BSc courses.
We support student mobility through study abroad programmes. BSc students have the opportunity to apply for an intercalated year abroad at one of our partner universities.
The Study Abroad Team based in the Office for Global Engagement offers support for these activities. The Department's Study Abroad Co-ordinator can provide more specific information and assistance.
General entry requirements
- A*AA to include A in Mathematics (or Further Mathematics) and Physics
- 38 to include 6 in Higher Level Mathematics (‘Analysis and Approaches’ only) and Physics
- We welcome applications from students taking a BTEC qualification alongside A level Maths and Physics
- We may consider a BTEC qualification in a relevant Science/Engineering subject alongside A level Maths only on an individual basis
We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications.
Contextual data and differential offers
Warwick may make differential offers to students in a number of circumstances. These include students participating in the Realising Opportunities programme, or who meet two of the contextual data criteria. Differential offers will be one or two grades below Warwick’s standard offer (to a minimum of BBB).
Warwick International Foundation Programme (IFP)
All students who successfully complete the Warwick IFP and apply to Warwick through UCAS will receive a guaranteed conditional offer for a related undergraduate programme (selected courses only).
Taking a gap year
Applications for deferred entry welcomed.
We do not typically interview applicants. Offers are made based on your UCAS form which includes predicted and actual grades, your personal statement and school reference.
Mathematics for Physicists
All scientists use mathematics to state the basic laws and to analyse quantitatively and rigorously their consequences. The module introduces you to concepts and techniques which will be assumed by future modules. These include: complex numbers, functions of a continuous real variable, integration, functions of more than one variable and multiple integration. You will revise relevant parts of the A-level syllabus, to cover the mathematical knowledge to undertake first year physics modules, and to prepare you for mathematics and physics modules in subsequent years.
Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity
You will study Newtonian mechanics emphasizing the conservation laws inherent in the theory. These have a wider domain of applicability than classical mechanics (for example they also apply in quantum mechanics). You will also look at the classical mechanics of oscillations and of rotating bodies. It then explains why the failure to find the ether was such an important experimental result and how Einstein constructed his theory of special relativity. You will cover some of the consequences of the theory for classical mechanics and some of the predictions it makes, including: the relation between mass and energy, length-contraction, time-dilation and the twin paradox.
You will look at dimensional analysis, matter and waves. Often the qualitative features of systems can be understood (at least partially) by thinking about which quantities in a problem are allowed to depend on each other on dimensional grounds. Thermodynamics is the study of heat transfers and how they can lead to useful work. Even though the results are universal, the simplest way to introduce this topic to you is via the ideal gas, whose properties are discussed and derived in some detail. You will also cover waves. Waves are time-dependent variations about some time-independent (often equilibrium) state. You will revise the relation between the wavelength, frequency and velocity and the definition of the amplitude and phase of a wave.
Electricity and Magnetism
You will largely be concerned with the great developments in electricity and magnetism, which took place during the nineteenth century. The origins and properties of electric and magnetic fields in free space, and in materials, are tested in some detail and all the basic levels up to, but not including, Maxwell's equations are considered. In addition, the module deals with both dc and ac circuit theory including the use of complex impedance. You will be introduced to the properties of electrostatic and magnetic fields, and their interaction with dielectrics, conductors and magnetic materials.
Physics Programming Workshop
You will be introduced to the Python programming language in this module. It is quick to learn and encourages good programming style. Python is an interpreted language, which makes it flexible and easy to share. It allows easy interfacing with modules, which have been compiled from C or Fortran sources. It is widely used throughout physics and there are many downloadable free-to-user codes available. You will also look at the visualisation of data. You will be introduced to scientific programming with the help of the Python programming language, a language widely used by physicists.
This module explains how classical physics is unable to explain the properties of light, electrons and atoms. (Theories in physics, which make no reference to quantum theory, are usually called classical theories.) It covers the most important contributions to the development of quantum physics including: wave-particle 'duality', de Broglie's relation and the Schrodinger equation. It also looks at applications of quantum theory to describe elementary particles: their classification by symmetry, how this allows us to interpret simple reactions between particles and how elementary particles interact with matter.
Key Skills for Physics
This module develops experimental skills in a range of areas and includes the design and testing of a functional electronic circuit, The module also introduces the concepts involved in controlling an experiment using a microcomputer. The module explores information retrieval and evaluation, and the oral and written presentation of scientific material.
Electronic instrumentation is widely used in virtually all areas of experimental physics. Whilst it is not essential for all experimental physicists to know, for example, how to make a low noise amplifier, it is extremely useful for them to have some knowledge of electronics. This workshop introduce some of the basic electronics which are used regularly by physicists.
Electromagnetic Theory and Optics
You will develop the ideas of first year electricity and magnetism into Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism. Maxwell's equations pulled the various laws of electricity and magnetism (Faraday's law, Ampere's law, Lenz's law, Gauss's law) into one unified and elegant theory. The module shows you that Maxwell's equations in free space have time-dependent solutions, which turn out to be the familiar electromagnetic waves (light, radio waves, X-rays, etc.), and studies their behaviour at material boundaries (Fresnel Equations). You will also cover the basics of optical instruments and light sources.
Mathematical Methods of Physicists III
You will study the calculus of variations and complex variables. The calculus of variations is concerned with the minimisation of integrals over sets of differentiable functions. Such integrals crop up in many contexts. For example, the ground state wavefunction of a quantum system minimises the expectation value of the energy. The classical equations of motion for both particles and fields can often be obtained by minimising what is called the action functional (which may be familiar if you took Hamiltonian Mechanics). Requiring functions of complex variables to be analytic (differentiable with respect to their complex argument in some domain) turns out to constrain such functions very strongly. As the module shows: only the constant function is differentiable everywhere, analytic functions are actually equal to their Taylor series and not just approximated by them, a function that is once differentiable is differentiable infinitely many times. Complex differentiable functions are clean, they are fun and they are important in physics. For example, response functions like the dielectric response function are analytic functions with the domain, in which the function is analytic, being related to causality.
Quantum Mechanics and its Applications
In the first part of this module you will use ideas, introduced in the first year module, to explore atomic structure. You will discuss the time-independent and the time-dependent Schrödinger equations for spherically symmetric and harmonic potentials, angular momentum and hydrogenic atoms. The second half of the module looks at many-particle systems and aspects of the Standard Model of particle physics. It introduces the quantum mechanics of free fermions and discusses how it accounts for the conductivity and heat capacity of metals and the state of electrons in white dwarf stars.
Thermal Physics II
Any macroscopic object we meet contains a large number of particles, each of which moves according to the laws of mechanics (which can be classical or quantum). Yet, we can often ignore the details of this microscopic motion and use a few average quantities such as temperature and pressure to describe and predict the behaviour of the object. Why we can do this, when we can do this and how to do it are the subject of this module. The most important idea in the field is due to Boltzmann, who identified the connection between entropy and disorder. The module shows you how the structure of equilibrium thermodynamics follows from Boltzmann's definition of the entropy and shows you how, in principle, any observable equilibrium quantity can be computed.
This module develops experimental skills in a range of areas and includes the design and testing of a functional electronic circuit. The module also introduces the concepts involved in controlling an experiment using a microcomputer. The module explores information retrieval and evaluation, and the oral and written presentation of scientific material.
The project will provide you with experience of working in a research environment. You will work, normally in pairs, on an extended project which may be experimental, computational or theoretical (or indeed a combination of these). Through discussions with your supervisor you will establish a plan of work which you will frequently review as you progress. In general, the project will not be closely prescribed and will contain an investigative element.
Employers look for many things in would-be employees. Sometimes they will be looking for specific knowledge, but often they will be more interested in general skills, frequently referred to as transferable skills. One such transferable skill is the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. Over the past two years you may have had experience in writing for an academic audience in the form of your laboratory reports. The aim of this module is to introduce you to the different approaches required to write for other audiences. This module will provide you with experience in presenting technical material in different formats to a variety of audiences.
Quantum Physics of Atoms
The basic principles of quantum mechanics are applied to a range of problems in atomic physics. The intrinsic property of spin is introduced and its relation to the indistinguishability of identical particles in quantum mechanics discussed. Perturbation theory and variational methods are described and applied to several problems. The hydrogen and helium atoms are analysed and the ideas that come out from this work are used to obtain a good qualitative understanding of the periodic table. In this module, you will develop the ideas of quantum theory and apply these to atomic physics.
Examples of optional modules/options for current students
- The Solar System
- Computational Physics
- Hamiltonian Mechanics
- Physics of Electrical Power Generation
- Physics of Fluids
- Statistical Physics
- Nuclear Physics
Additional course costs
There may be costs associated with other items or services such as academic texts, course notes, and trips associated with your course. Students who choose to complete a work placement or study abroad will pay reduced tuition fees for their third year.
We believe there should be no barrier to talent. That's why we are committed to offering a scholarship that makes it easier for gifted, ambitious international learners to pursue their academic interests at one of the UK's most prestigious universities. This new scheme will offer international fee-paying students 250 tuition fee discounts ranging from full fees to awards of £13,000 to £2,000 for the full duration of your Undergraduate degree course.
Graduates from this course have gone on to work for employers including:
- Deloitte Digital
- Brunei Shell Petroleum
- British Red Cross
- EDF Energy
- Civil Service
- Deutsche Bank
They have pursued roles such as:
- Physical scientists
- Finance and investment analysts
- Programmers and software development professionals
- Graphic designers
Helping you find the right career
Our department has a dedicated professionally qualified Senior Careers Consultant. They offer impartial advice and guidance together with workshops and events throughout the year. Previous examples of workshops and events include:
- Career options with a Physics Degree
- Careers in Science
- Warwick careers fairs throughout the year
- Physics Alumni Evening
- Careers and Employer networking event for Physics students
“I studied the MPhys course at Warwick and ended up extending my final year project into a PhD.
I’m now a Patent Attorney for Withers & Rogers LLP. Broadly speaking, my role is to help inventors secure effective legal protection for new and innovative technology. In a typical day, I work on multiples cases across a crazy range of technology - from jet engines to software, satellites to artificial heart valves.
My interest in this area came about during my PhD, whilst I worked with Warwick Ventures to patent a novel semiconductor device.
It was Warwick that first exposed me to the eclectic mix of science and technology that allows me to work in such a varied and dynamic environment.”
MPhys Physics graduate
About the information on this page
This information is applicable for 2021 entry. Given the interval between the publication of courses and enrolment, some of the information may change. It is important to check our website before you apply. Please read our terms and conditions to find out more.