Undergraduate prospectus 2022


Theoretical Physics MSci

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

Key Information

Programme starts

September 2022
UCAS code
Full-time: 4 years
Institute of Physics
Application deadline
26 January 2022
London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A Levels

A*A in Mathematics and Physics required, any order. Further Mathematics is preferred as a third subject.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 5.

Contextual offer

A*AB (more about contextual offers)
A*A in Mathematics and Physics required, any order. Further Mathematics is preferred as a third subject.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 5.

IB Diploma

A total of 19 points in three higher level subjects including grade 7, 6 in Mathematics and Physics, in any order, with no score below 5. The programme will accept either 'Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches' or 'Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation' at higher level.

Contextual offer

38 (more about contextual offers)
A total of 18 points in three higher level subjects including grade 7, 6 in Mathematics and Physics, in any order, with no score below 5. The programme will accept either 'Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches' or 'Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation' at higher level.

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 acceptable for entrance to this programme.

D2,D3,D3 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects, including D2,D3 in any order in Mathematics and Physics. Further Mathematics is preferred as a third subject.

A1,A,A at Advanced Highers (or A1,A at Advanced Higher and A,A,A at Higher), including A1,A in any order in Mathematics and Physics at Advanced Higher. Further Mathematics is preferred as a third subject.

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate plus 2 GCE A levels at grades A*AA, including A*A in any order in Mathematics and Physics. It would be preferred to achieve the grades in A levels, including Further Mathematics as the third subject.

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

UCL 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: 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 theoretical physics degree from UCL is a strong asset across the whole range of careers where 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.

  • Ranked 4th in the UK (Times Higher Education Rankings by subject 2021) you will be taught by lecturers who are experts in a wide range of physics-related fields.

  • The wide range of optional modules enables you to develop your interests both within and outside physics, giving you problem solving and communication skills, along with a deep knowledge base to offer potential employers.


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.

Subscribe to the StudyUCL YouTube channel to learn more about life and studying at UCL.

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. You will also take a module in practical mathematics.

The second year includes compulsory modules in quantum physics and its application to atoms and molecules, in statistical thermodynamics and in electromagnetic theory, along with further mathematics. Computing and practical mathematics skills are further developed.

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. The fourth year comprises a compulsory research project, and a number of optional modules, generally chosen from subjects in the relevant degree specialty.

Upon successful completion of 480 credits, you will be awarded a MSci (Hons) in Theoretical Physics.


Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Compulsory module(s)

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

PHAS0004 Atoms, Stars and the Universe (Level 4) 15 credits
PHAS0005 Waves, Optics and Acoustics (Level 4) 15 credits
PHAS0006 Thermal Physics and the Properties of Matter (level 4) 15 credits
PHAS0007 Practical Physics and Computing 1 (Level 4) 15 credits
PHAS0002 Mathematical Methods I (Level 4) 15 credits
PHAS0009 Mathematical Methods II  (Level 4) 15 credits
PHAS0010 Classical Mechanics (Level 4) 15 credits
PHAS0012 Computing for Mathematical Physics (Level 4) 15 credits
PHAS0017 Developing Effective Communications 1 (non-credit, but will appear in student’s transcript)

Optional modules

All first-year modules are compulsory.

Compulsory module(s)

Year 2: All second year modules are compulsory – 120 credits at Level 5 in total

PHAS0021 Electricity and Magnetism (Level 5) 15 credits
PHAS0022 Quantum Physics (Level 5) 15 credits
PHAS0023 Atomic & Molecular Physics (Level 5) 15 credits
PHAS0024 Statistical Physics of Matter (Level 5) 15 credits
PHAS0026 Mathematical Methods for Theoretical Physics (Level 5) 15 credits
PHAS0030 Further Practical Mathematics and Computing (Level 5) 15 credits
PHAS0025 Mathematical Methods III (Level 5) 15 credits
MATH0043 Mathematics for Physics and Astronomy (Level 5) 15 credits
PHAS0035 Developing Effective Communications 2 (non-credit, but will appear in student’s transcript)

Optional modules

All second-year modules are compulsory.

Compulsory module(s)

Year 3: 120 credits (at least 90 credits at Level 6)
Compulsory module(s) (75 credits)

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

Optional modules

You will select 45 credits in total from options that may include the following (choices must be approved by your Programme Tutor)

PHAS0037 Physical Cosmology (Level 6) 15 credits
PHAS0039 Physics Education (IoE) (Level 6) 15 credits
PHAS0049 Theory of Dynamical Systems (Level 6) 15 credits
PHAS0050 Climate and Energy (Level 6) 15 credits
PHAS0053 Lasers and Modern Optics (Level 6) 15 credits
PHAS0048 Project (Level 6) 30 credits
GEOL0022 Physics of Oceans, Ice Sheets and Climate (Level 6) 30 credits
MATH0025 Mathematics for General Relativity (Level 6) 15 credits

Compulsory module(s)

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

PHAS0097 Physics Project (45 credits) (Level 7)

Optional modules

Select 75 credits from options that may include (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)

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.

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


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


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 committed 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 2021/22 academic year. The UK 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 2021/22 entrants for each year of study on the programme, unless otherwise indicated below. Fees for the 2022/23 academic year will be advertised as soon as they are available.

UK students
£9,250 (2021/22)
Overseas students
£31,200 (2021/22)

Full details of UCL's tuition fees, tuition fee policy and potential increases to fees can be found on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

You will require the approved model of calculator for use in exams.  Currently this is either the Casio FX-85GT X or Casio FX-83GT X, which can be purchased for around £11 - £15.  For details please see the UCL examinations guide. You may also be required to purchase books, stationery, printing, thesis binding and photocopying.

A guide including rough estimates for these and other living expenses is included on the UCL Fees and funding pages. If you are concerned by potential additional costs for books, equipment, etc., please get in touch with the relevant departmental contact (details given on this page).


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: 26 January 2022


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.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

Page last modified on 5 August 2021