Undergraduate prospectus

  • Start date: September 2018

Theoretical Physics BSc

This three-year programme offers a variant of the advanced study offered in the Physics BSc. You will develop specialised knowledge of the theoretical structure of the core topics in physics. The programme is likely to appeal to you if you have a strong interest and ability in mathematics.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2018
UCAS code
Full-time: 3 years
Application deadline
15 January 2018
London, Bloomsbury
Institute of Physics (See Degree benefits)
Applications per place
7 (2015 entry)*
Total intake
160 (2018 entry)*
* Figures relate to Physics and Astrophysics subject area

Entry requirements

A levels

Mathematics, Physics and Further Mathematics required.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C. For UK-based students, a grade C or equivalent in a foreign language (other than Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew or Latin) is required. UCL provides opportunities to meet the foreign language requirement following enrolment, further details at: www.ucl.ac.uk/ug-reqs

IB Diploma

A total of 18 points in three higher level subjects including Mathematics and Physics at grade 6, with no score below 5.

UK applicants qualifications

For entry requirements with other UK qualifications accepted by UCL, choose your qualification from the list below:

Equivalent qualification

Edexcel Level 3 Extended Diploma (QCF), or Edexcel Level 3 BTEC National Diploma (NQF) with Distinction, Distinction, Distinction.

Pass in Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 23 credits awarded with Distinction in the Level 3 units, the remainder of the credits in the Level 3 units awarded with Merit.

D3,D3,D3 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects, including Mathematics, Physics and Further Mathematics.

AAA at Advanced Highers (or AA at Advanced Higher and AAA at Higher), including Mathematics and Physics at Advanced Higher.

Not acceptable.

International applications

In addition to A level and International Baccalaureate, UCL considers a wide range of international qualifications for entry to its undergraduate degree programmes.

Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates

The Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPCs) are intensive one-year foundation courses for international students of high academic potential who are aiming to gain access to undergraduate degree programmes at UCL and other top UK universities.

Typical UPC students will be high achievers in a 12-year school system which does not meet the standard required for direct entry to UCL.

For more information see: www.ucl.ac.uk/upc.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.

The English language level for this programme is: Standard

A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.

Degree benefits

  • A science degree from UCL is a strong asset across the whole range of careers where basic scientific skills are required, from accountancy to astrophysics, and computing to cryogenics.

  • The programme is accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and includes the very latest developments and discoveries in the field, based on our highly rated research.

  • Collaborative links with both industry and international research laboratories provide insight into the practical application of your studies.

  • A wide range of optional modules are available, including modules from other University of London colleges, which allows for individual preferences and specialisations within your degree.


This programme is accredited by the Institute of Physics. Holders of accredited degrees can follow a route to Institute of Physics membership and the Chartered Physicist (CPhys) professional qualification. Graduates of accredited Integrated Master's (MPhys or MSci) degrees have fulfilled the educational requirements for CPhys status, while graduates of accredited Bachelor's (BSc) degrees have partially fulfilled these requirements.

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Physics and Astronomy.

  • 90% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

Degree structure

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual modules, normally valued at 0.5 or 1.0 credits, adding up to a total of 4.0 credits for the year. Modules are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional modules varies from programme to programme and year to year. A 1.0 credit is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

Core modules in the first year provide a firm foundation in quantum and classical physics, underpinned by mathematics and a practical skills module which includes computing skills training. You will also take a module in practical mathematics.

The second year includes core modules in quantum physics and its application to atoms and molecules, in statistical thermodynamics and in electromagnetic theory, along with further mathematics. The quantum and condensed matter elements of the core are completed in the third year. Students reading for the Theoretical Physics degree replace second and third-year experimental work with theory modules.

The third year also includes optional modules to develop further and enhance knowledge of a range of physics topics.

This programme is offered both as a three-year BSc and a four-year MSci, with common structures and subjects for the first two years. However, the additional fourth year of the MSci programme allows for a greater depth of study and we recommend you apply for an MSci initially, as this keeps more options open.


An indicative guide to the structure of this programme, year by year.

Core or compulsory module(s)

Classical Mechanics
Mathematical Methods I
Mathematical Methods II
Physics of the Universe
Practical Mathematics I
Practical Skills 1C
Thermal Physics
Waves, Optics and Acoustics

Optional modules

All first-year modules are compulsory.

Core or compulsory module(s)

Atomic and Molecular Physics
Electricity and Magnetism
Mathematics for Physics and Astronomy
Mathematical Methods for Theoretical Physics
Mathematical Methods III
Practical Mathematics 2
Quantum Physics
Statistical Thermodynamics

Optional modules

All second-year modules are compulsory.

Core or compulsory module(s)

Electromagnetic Theory
Group Project
Nuclear and Particle Physics
Quantum Mechanics
Solid State Physics

Optional modules

You will select your remaining 1.5 credits from a wide range of optional modules. Options may include:

Energy and Climate
Fluid Mechanics
Lasers and Modern Optics
Mathematics for General Relativity
Physical Cosmology
Physics of Oceans, Ice Sheets and Climate (1.0 credits)
Scientific Computing Using Object Oriented Languages
Theory of Dynamical Systems

Your learning

Teaching is delivered through lectures, laboratory (and as appropriate, observatory) practical sessions, and supervised problem-solving tutorials. These tutorials are designed to deal with lecture-based questions, enlarge on topics addressed in lectures, and allow clarification and in-depth discussion of new concepts.


Assessment will normally involve end-of-year examinations, and an element of assessed coursework. Practical work you will be continuously assessed.

Further Information

Detailed course descriptions are available on the department website: Theoretical Physics BSc.


Your scientific training will equip you with an understanding of mathematics, and of physical principles and techniques, as well as transferable skills in analysis, rational argument and innovative problem-solving. Surveys by the IOP indicate that physicists' versatility is welcomed by a wider range of professions than any other subject.

Around half our graduates choose to pursue further study for an MSc or PhD. A PhD opens up the possibility of an academic or research career in a university or research institute. Alternatively, like many of our graduates, you may consider employment in research, design, development, computing, finance, marketing and teaching, among others.


First career destinations of recent graduates (2013-2015) of Theoretical Physics programmes at UCL include:

  • Portfolio Manager / Partner, Niveda Wealth LLP
  • Full-time student, MSc in Theoretical Physics at UCL
  • Software Developer, Mystery IB
  • Tax Consultant Analyst, Deloitte
  • Full-time student, MSc in Petroleum Engineering at Imperial College London

Data taken from the 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education' survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013-2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

UCL is commited to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers and UCL Innovation and Enterprise can help you find employment or learn about entrepreneurship.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

The fees indicated are for undergraduate entry in the 2017/18 academic year and are for the first year of the programme at UCL only. Fees for 2018 entry will appear here as soon as they are available.

UK/EU students
£9,250 (2017/18 - see below)
Overseas students
£23,710 (2017/18)

The UK/EU fee quoted above may be subject to increase for the 2018/19 academic year and for each year of study thereafter and UCL reserves the right to increase its fees in line with UK government policy (including on an annual basis for each year of study during a programme). Fees for overseas students may be subject to an annual increase in subsequent years of study by up to 5%.

Please see the full details of UCL's fees and possible changes on the UCL Current Students website.


Various funding options are available, including student loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students whose household income falls below a certain level may also be eligible for a non-repayable bursary or for certain scholarships. Please see the Fees and funding pages for more details.

Departmental scholarships

The Scholarships and Funding website lists scholarships and funding schemes available to UCL students. These may be open to all students, or restricted to specific nationalities, regions or academic department.

Application and next steps

Your application

In addition to the subjects and grades specified in the qualifying examinations, we are also looking for evidence of self-motivation and an enthusiastic interest in the subject. This may be demonstrated through paid or voluntary work experience, academic project work, or your interests and hobbies beyond the school curriculum.

How to apply

Application for admission should be made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Applicants currently at school or college will be provided with advice on the process; however, applicants who have left school or who are based outside the United Kingdom may obtain information directly from UCAS.

Application deadline: 15 January 2018


Your application will be carefully assessed based on your UCAS form and reference. If you are made an offer and based in the UK within a reasonable travelling distance of UCL, you will be invited to a compulsory applicant open day. This will include presentations, a tour of facilities and an opportunity to meet current students and staff members.

If you are based outside the UK, or not within reasonable travelling distance of UCL, open day attendance is optional and a telephone discussion with the admissions tutor will be available upon request.

For further information on UCL's selection process see: Selection of students.

Page last modified on 21 March 2017 at 12:44 by UCL Student Recruitment Marketing.