Undergraduate prospectus 2021


Physics MSci

This four-year programme offers an additional year of study on top of the Physics BSc, during which students have the opportunity to specialise further by taking advanced optional modules, and undertaking a research project.

Covid-19 programme updates

Due to COVID-19, there may have been updates to this programme for the 2020 academic year. Where there has been an update, these are indicated with a red alert and a link which will provide further information.

Key Information

Programme starts

September 2020
UCAS code
Full-time: 4 years
Institute of Physics
Application deadline
15 January 2020
London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A Levels

Mathematics and Physics required.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 5. For UK-based students, a grade C or 5 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

Contextual offer

AAB (more about contextual offers)
A in Mathematics and Physics required.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 5. For UK-based students, a grade C or 5 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.

Contextual offer

36 (more about contextual offers)
A total of 17 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

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.

not accepted for this course

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

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

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate plus 2 GCE A-Levels at grades AAA, including Mathematics and Physics.

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.

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.

Degree structure

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual modules, normally valued at 15 or 30 credits, adding up to a total of 120 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 30-credit module is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

Compulsory 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.

The second year includes a compulsory module in quantum physics and its application to atoms and molecules, statistical thermodynamics and electromagnetic theory, along with further mathematics. The quantum and condensed matter elements of the core are completed in the third year.

The second and third year also include practical laboratory and project modules and optional modules to develop further and enhance knowledge of a range of physics topics.

The fourth year comprises a compulsory research project and further optional modules, generally chosen from subjects in the relevant degree specialty. A wide range of modules are available each year and normally some taught by staff from other University of London colleges.


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

Core or compulsory module(s)

Year 1: All first year modules are compulsory – 120 credits at Level 4

PHAS0004 Atoms, Stars and the Universe (15 credits) (Level 4)
PHAS0005 Waves, Optics and Acoustics (15 credits) (Level 4)
PHAS0006 Thermal Physics (15 credits) (Level 4)
PHAS0007 Practical Physics and Computing 1 (15 credits) (Level 4)
PHAS0008 Practical Skills 1P (Experimental Physics) (15 credits) (Level 4)
PHAS0002 Mathematical Methods I ((15 credits) (Level 4)
PHAS0009 Mathematical Methods II (15 credits) (Level 4)
PHAS0010 Classical Mechanics (15 credits) (Level 4)
PHAS0017 Developing Effective Communications 1 (non-credit, but will appear in student’s transcript)

Optional modules

All first-year modules are compulsory.

Core or compulsory module(s)

Year 2: 120 credits at Level 5 in total
Compulsory modules (105 credits)

PHAS0021 Electricity and Magnetism (15 credits) (Level 5)
PHAS0022 Quantum Physics (15 credits) (Level 5)
PHAS0023 Atomic & Molecular Physics (15 credits) (Level 5)
PHAS0024 Statistical Thermodynamics (15 credits) (Level 5)
PHAS0028 Practical Physics 2A (15 credits) (Level 5)
PHAS0029 Practical Physics and Computing 2 (15 credits) (Level 5)
PHAS0025 Mathematical Methods III (15 credits) (Level 5)
PHAS0035 Developing Effective Communications 2 (non-credit, but will appear in student’s transcript)

Optional modules

You will select 15 credits in total from a list including the following (choices must be approved by the Programme Tutor)

MATH0043 Mathematics for Physics and Astronomy (15 credits) (Level 5)
PHAS0027 Environmental Physics (15 credits) (Level 5)
PHAS0019 Planetary Science (Level 5) 15 credits

or another appropriate module approved by the Programme Tutor

Core or compulsory module(s)

Year 3: 120 Credits (at least 90 credits at Level 6)
Compulsory modules (90 credits)

PHAS0038 Electromagnetic Theory (15 credits) (Level 6)
PHAS0040 Nuclear and Particle Physics (15 credits) (Level 6)
PHAS0041 Solid State Physics (15 credits) (Level 6)
PHAS0042 Quantum Physics (15 credits) (Level 6)
PHAS0051 Experimental Physics (15 credits) (Level 6)
PHAS0052 Physics Group Project (15 credits) (Level 6)

Optional modules

You will select 30 credits in total from options including the following (choices must be approved by your Programme Tutor)

PHAS0049 Theory of Dynamical Systems (15 credits) (Level 6)
PHAS0053 Lasers and Modern Optics (15 credits) (Level 6)
PHAS0055 Materials & Energy Materials (15 credits) (Level 6)
PHAS0056 Scientific Computing using Object-Oriented Languages (15 credits) (Level 6)
PHAS0050 Energy and Climate (15 credits) (Level 6)
PHAS0039 Physics Education (IoE) (Level 6) 15 credits
PHAS0037 Physical Cosmology (15 credits) (Level 6)
PHAS0057 Physics of the Earth (15 credits) (Level 6)
GEOL0022 Physics of Oceans, Ice Sheets and Climate (15 credits) (Level 6)

Core or compulsory module(s)

Year 4: 120 credits at level 7 in total
Compulsory module

PHAS0097 (M201) Physics Project (45 credits) (Level 7)

Optional modules

Select 75 credits in total from options including (needs Programme Tutor approval)
PHASM047 Physics of Advanced Materials (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHASM048 Theoretical Condensed Matter (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHAS0061 Advanced Topics in Statistical Mechanics (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHAS0069 Advanced Quantum Theory (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHAS0105 Atom and Photon Physics (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHAS0099 Molecular Physics (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHAS0072 Particle Physics (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHAS0070 Quantum Computation and Communication (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHAS0073 Quantum Field Theory (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHAS0102 High-performance Computing (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHAS0103 Molecular Biophysics (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHAS0074 Space Plasma and Magnetospheric Physics (15 credits) (Level 7)
PHAS0075 Order and Excitations in Condensed Matter (15 credits) (Level 7)
MATH0078 Boundary Layers (15 credits) (Level 7)

Covid-19 module updates
Due to COVID-19, there may be updates to the modules for your chosen programme of study this year. Some modules may not be available or may need to be moved to a later term or year of study.  We have included these updates below:    Planetary Science (PHAS0019) will be available in Term 1 for second year students These updates are relevant for 2020-21 academic year only.  The full list of modules will be available in the module catalogue from late August.  From the first week of September, you will be invited to complete module selection from Portico, our student record system. There may need to be additional updates or changes to modules during the academic year to allow for new guidance from the UK Government and Public Health England. Your department shall keep you updated of these changes as they become available.  

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.

Covid-19 practical component updates
Due to COVID-19, there may be changes to the availability of the practical components for your chosen programme. Any updates relate only to the 20/21 academic year and may not apply to all students across the programme depending on your year of study.  Your department will keep you updated if the practical component of your programme is able to occur and/or any alternative options available.   There may need to be additional updates or changes to the practical component during the academic year to allow for new guidance from the UK Government and/or Public Health England. Your department shall keep you updated of these changes as they become available. 
Covid-19 contact hours on campus
In Term One, while campus will be open, all the learning activity for the core content of your modules will take place online – including lectures, tutorials, seminars and assessments. By “core content” we mean everything you need to learn to complete the module successfully. In addition to these online contact hours, we will be offering some face-to-face educational activities for students on campus, and we will provide alternative online activities for those students unable to join us on campus. These activities, which will include contact with academic staff, will be relevant to your programme of study may include seminars, academic and employability skills workshops, small-group or individual tutorials, lab and practice-based teaching. UK Government safety guidelines will limit the amount of ‘in person’ activity we can offer and while it will vary from programme to programme, is likely to be no more than 1-2 hours per week. This will vary across departments, particularly if your programme includes laboratory/practical/studio/workshop sessions. You will be updated with more specific details as they are available and your timetable will indicate which sessions will be on campus and which will be available online.
Communicating further Covid-19 mitigation plans
We are continuing to follow UK Government guidance, as well as the expertise of our researchers, including specialists in health, education, human behaviour and infection prevention, to make sure UCL is as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. If it becomes necessary to make further changes to your programme as a result of new guidance/regulations, UCL and your department will communicate these as soon as this becomes clear. We will keep you up-to-date with our plans throughout term one, so you have the information you need to be able to take decisions that are right for your circumstances. Please ensure that you keep in touch with your department by regularly checking your UCL emails, Moodle courses, the Coronavirus FAQs for Students page and any UCL online groups or social media you follow.


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

Covid-19 assessment updates
There may be changes to the format of assessments for modules in this programme due to COVID-19. These will be summarised for each module on the module catalogue from 17 August 2020.   If any changes to assessments need to be made during the academic year due to updates in government guidance, these will be communicated to you as soon as possible from your department.    

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


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 Institute of Physics 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.

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.

Student view
My favourite part of the programme is labs! We put into use the theory we learn in lectures, and we have replicated famous experiments that led to significant discoveries, such as the Michelson-Morley experiment. It encourages us to collaborate and can be very social. Steven Vuong - Physics MSci Second Year

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

The fees indicated are for undergraduate entry in the 2020/21 academic year. The UK/EU fees shown are for the first year of the programme at UCL only. Fees for future years may be subject to an inflationary increase. The Overseas fees shown are the fees that will be charged to 2020/21 entrants for each year of study on the programme, unless otherwise indicated below.

UK/EU students
£9,250 (2020/21)
Overseas students
£28,610 (2020/21)

Full details of UCL's tuition fees, tuition fee policy and potential increases to fees can be found on the UCL Students website.

Additional costs

You will require the approved model of calculator for use in exams.  For details please see the Exams and Assessment page of the UCL website.

There are some optional activities in which you may like to participate that incur an additional cost, for example membership of the Student Physics Society, or the department's annual weekend away at Cumberland Lodge.

If you are concerned by potential additional costs on this programme, please get in touch with us.


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

Funding opportunities relevant to the department may appear in this section when they are available. Please check carefully or confirm with the programme contact to ensure they apply to this degree programme.

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 2020


Your application will be carefully assessed based on your UCAS form and reference. If you are made an offer, you will be invited to a Physics Offer Holder's Day. This will include presentations, a tour of facilities and an opportunity to meet current students and staff members. Attendance is strongly recommended as we cannot provide private tours of the department at the moment.

Some Physics Offer Holder's Days will be partially livestreamed for overseas applicants.

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

Page last modified on 24 February 2020