Skip to main content
Degree type


Course length

3 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


Ready to Apply?

Typical offers

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

Course details

Durham is one of the leading physics and astronomy departments in the UK. When you choose the BSc in Physics, you’ll be joining a dynamic and focused learning community that is home to multiple research institutes, world-class facilities, and experts with close links to industry. Current developments in both research and industry are used to bring theoretical learning to life, a factor which contributes to our consistently high ranking in university league tables.

Undergraduate physics degrees at Durham offer a high level of flexibility. We offer four Institute of Physics accredited courses – the BSc in Physics and MPhys qualifications in Physics, Physics and Astronomy, and Theoretical 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 to add a placement year or a year abroad to your degree, increasing the course from three years to four.

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 you'll have the opportunity to explore areas such as astrophysics, quantum theory and the relationship between physics and society in more detail.

In Year 3 you can apply your learning to a range of real-world issues with project work, student-led laboratory work and optional modules tailored to your interests and aspirations.

The rigorous curriculum has been designed to develop skills in reasoning, problem-solving and data analysis as well as advancing your understanding of mathematics and IT. The BSc in Physics is the first step towards achieving Chartered Physicist status, however many graduates move straight into employment in a wide range of industries from energy and IT to engineering and scientific research.

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.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Single Mathematics
  • Linear Algebra
  • Calculus.

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 develops your knowledge of thermodynamics, condensed matter physics and optics.

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.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Stars and Galaxies
  • Theoretical Physics
  • Physics in Society.

Year 3

Core modules:

Foundations of Physics A further develops your knowledge of quantum mechanics and nuclear and particle physics. You will learn to apply the principles of physics to the solution of 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.

Computing Project in which you solve advanced computational physics problems using a variety of modern computing techniques and present your findings in a project report, poster and oral presentation.

BSc Project, an independent research-led study of a topic chosen from a broad list. You will present the results as a 5,000-word report and an oral presentation.

Examples of optional modules:

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

Additional pathways

Students on the BSc in Physics 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 your studies will extend from three years to four.


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.

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 and the degree-specific entry requirements, please note:

  • 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 degrees 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 2024/25 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 2019:

  • 83% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 81% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £34,000.

(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


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 2023
  • 3rd in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023
  • 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 7 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 (pt5m) 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.

More information on our facilities and equipment.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Register for an Undergraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

Similar courses

Physics - MPhys

UCAS Code: F301
Start: September 2024

Physics and Astronomy - MPhys

Start: September 2024
Physics and Astronomy

Theoretical Physics - MPhys

UCAS Code: F344
Start: September 2024
Theoretical Physics