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Degree type


Course length

4 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level A*A*A
International Baccalaureate 38

Course details

If you are fascinated by the relationship between mathematics, the cosmos and the scientific world this MPhys could be for you. This integrated Master’s degree is the first step towards Chartered Physicist status. It will suit those looking for an accredited course that leads to higher level education or a research role in physics, while also providing the knowledge, analytical and problem-solving skills for a career in the sciences, engineering, finance or IT. 

Physics degrees at Durham offer a high level of flexibility. We offer four Institute of Physics accredited courses – MPhys qualifications in Physics, Physics and Astronomy, and Theoretical Physics and the three-year BSc in Physics – which follow the same core curriculum in Year 1.

Subject to the optional modules chosen, it is possible to switch to one of the other courses until the end of the second year. You can also apply for a one-year work placement or study abroad opportunity with one of our partner organisations, increasing the course from four years to five or substituting the existing Year 3.

The first year lays the foundation in physics theory, mathematical skills and laboratory skills that you will need to tackle more complex content later in the course. From Year 2 the focus on astronomy and astrophysics increases. 

As you progress through the course, learning is more closely aligned to real-world issues through project work and optional modules that are tailored to your interests and aspirations. Your knowledge is further extended with a project based on a live research topic, and higher-level modules which take your study of physics and astronomy to a greater depth.

Course structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Foundations of Physics introduces classical aspects of wave phenomena and electromagnetism, as well as basic concepts in Newtonian mechanics, quantum mechanics, special relativity and optical physics.  

Discovery Skills in Physics provides a practical introduction to laboratory skills development with particular emphasis on measurement uncertainty, data analysis and written and oral communication skills. It also includes an introduction to programming. 

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Single Mathematics
  • Linear Algebra
  • Calculus.

Please note: it is compulsory to study two Maths modules (as background mathematical knowledge for the Foundations module).

Year 2

Core modules:

Foundations of Physics A develops your knowledge of quantum mechanics and electromagnetism. You will learn to apply the principles of physics to predictable and unpredictable problems and produce a well-structured solution, with clear reasoning and appropriate presentation.

Foundations of Physics B extends your knowledge of thermodynamics, condensed matter physics and optics.

Stars and Galaxies introduces astronomy and astrophysics. You will develop an understanding of the basic physics of stellar interiors and learn why we see stars of differing colours and brightness. The module extends your knowledge of pulsating and binary stars and introduces galactic and extragalactic astronomy.

Mathematical Methods in Physics provides the necessary mathematical knowledge to successfully tackle the Foundations of Physics modules. It covers vectors, vector integral and vector differential calculus, multivariable calculus and orthogonal curvilinear coordinates, Fourier analysis, orthogonal functions, the use of matrices, and the mathematical tools for solving ordinary and partial differential equations occurring in a variety of physical problems.

Laboratory Skills and Electronics builds lab-based skills, such as experiment planning, data analysis, scientific communication and specific practical skills. It aims to teach electronics as a theoretical and a practical subject, to teach the techniques of computational physics and numerical methods and to provide experience of a research-led investigation in physics in preparation for post-university life.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Theoretical Physics
  • Physics in Society.

Year 3

Core modules:

Foundations of Physics A further develops your knowledge to include quantum mechanics and nuclear and particle physics. You will learn to apply the principles of physics to complex problems and produce a well-structured solution, with clear reasoning and appropriate presentation.

Foundations of Physics B extends your knowledge to include statistical physics and condensed matter physics.

Planets and Cosmology explains the astrophysical origin of planetary systems and the cosmological origin of the Universe. You will learn about the formation and workings of our Solar System, its orbital dynamics and the basic physics of planetary interiors and atmospheres.

The Computing Project is designed to develop your computational and problem-solving skills. You work on advanced computational physics problems using a variety of modern computing techniques and present your findings in a project report, poster and oral presentation.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Team Project 
  • Advanced Laboratory 
  • Mathematics Workshop 
  • Physics into Schools 
  • Theoretical Physics 
  • Condensed Matter Physics 
  • Modern Atomic and Optical Physics.

Year 4

Core modules:

The research-based MPhys Project provides experience of work in a research environment on a topic at the forefront of developments in a branch of either physics, applied physics, theoretical physics or astronomy, and develops transferable skills for the oral and written presentation of research. The project can be carried out individually or as part of a small group in one of the Department’s research groups or in collaboration with an external organisation.

Advanced Astrophysics covers astronomical techniques and radiative processes in astrophysics. This module provides a working knowledge of the advanced optical techniques used in modern astronomy and of the radiative processes that generate the emission that is studied in a wide range of astronomical observations.

Theoretical Astrophysics examines cosmic structure formation and general relativity. This module provides an overview of our current understanding of the formation and evolution of cosmic structure and an introduction to Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Atoms, Lasers and Qubits 
  • Advanced Theoretical Physics 
  • Advanced Condensed Matter Physics 
  • Particle Theory 
  • Theoretical Physics 
  • Condensed Matter Physics 
  • Modern Atomic and Optical Physics. 

Additional pathways

Students on the MPhys in Physics and Astronomy can apply to be transferred onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway during the second year. Places on these pathways are in high demand and if you are chosen you can choose to extend your course from four years to five, or substitute the existing Year 3.


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.


Institute of Physics


Lectures are the starting point of the learning process. You will actively engage with the topics introduced in lectures through a combination of laboratory classes, problem exercises, tutorials and workshops.

Laboratory classes give you the chance to plan experiments and to interpret data. You will also be set regular problem exercises which develop your theoretical understanding and problem-solving abilities, these exercises form the basis for discussions in small-group tutorials. 


Assessment is mainly by end-of-year examinations and by project reports and presentations. 

The range of assessment methods is designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of the course content, test your capacity to solve problems, enhance your written and oral communication skills, and assess your ability to relate your learning to real-world scenarios.

Entry requirements

A level offerA*A*A including Physics and Mathematics.

Contextual offer – A*AB including Physics and Mathematics.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaD*D*D and A levels as above.

IB Diploma score38 with 776 in higher level subjects, including Mathematics (maths analysis & approaches) and Physics.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels.
  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. 
  • Entry requirements are the same for all four Physics programmes and transfer from the BSc degree to the MPhys degree is possible and is based upon first and second-year examinations.
  • We may request further information such as UMS marks and/or predicted grades if this information is not available on the UCAS application. This is to ensure that we have an equal amount of information for all applicants. If for some reason this cannot be supplied, the candidate’s application will not be disadvantaged.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


We seek to develop the practical and intellectual skills sought by employers and we are regularly ranked among the country's top performers for graduate employment. Our graduates have progressed to careers in business, industry, commerce, research, management and education, and typically more than fifth of our graduates go on to study for higher degrees.

The Department also has an impressive track record of spin-out technology companies that commercialise our knowledge in areas of semiconductors, composites and advanced instrumentation. Examples of high-profile employers include BT, Procter & Gamble, Rolls Royce and BAE Systems.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 93% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 95% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £33,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information


With recent ground-breaking discoveries in astronomy,  the Universe, subatomic particles and nuclear fusion there’s never been a better time to study physics. Join one of the UK’s leading teaching and research departments and become a part of this exciting discipline.

When you study physics at Durham you will work with experts across a range of specialisms to explore subjects such as the Big Bang, black holes, the Higgs boson, high-temperature superconductors, lasers, cold-atom Bose-Einstein condensates, biophysics and more.

Our undergraduate physics degrees offer outstanding teaching, learning and employability outcomes for students. We offer four Institute of Physics accredited BSc and MPhys qualifications which share a common first year. Course content ranges from fundamental topics, such as elementary particle physics and cosmology, to applied areas which include material physics and biophysics.

All courses allow you to select a number of modules tailored to your interests and career aspirations, and the course structures have been designed to provide flexibility in your final choice of degree. This means, depending on modules chosen, you need not make a firm decision about your course until the end of the second year. You also have the option to apply for a year-long work placement or study abroad opportunity with one of our partner organisations.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023

  • 2nd in The Guardian University Guide 2024

  • 3rd in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • 3rd in The Complete University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Physics Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 96% of our research outputs are world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021).


Our Department lies in the heart of the University on the main campus among the science and engineering departments and the University library. The main Department building houses all the lectures and teaching laboratories as well as some of our world-class facilities such as our Cosma 8 supercomputer, which has the processing power and memory of about 28,000 home PCs. This enables scientists to simulate the evolution of the Universe from the Big Bang to the present day with unprecedented accuracy.

We also have state-of-the-art scanning electron microscopes (SEM), transmission electron microscopes (TEM) and focused ion-beam microscopes (FIB) that are accessible to staff and students from physics, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering and biology areas. Students who undertake a project in observational astronomy will have access to the telescopes sited on the roof of the Physics building as well as our remotely operated telescope (0.5m) on La Palma.

The Department also includes the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, which is home to the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology and the Institute for Computational Cosmology.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



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