Physics with Theoretical Astrophysics MSci


Fact file - 2019 entry

MSci Hons Physics with Theoretical Astrophysics
UCAS code
4 years full-time (available part-time)
A level offer
Required subjects
Maths and physics
IB score
36 (6 in maths, plus 6 in physics and 6 in a third subject, all at Higher Level)
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places
185 places for all courses in the School of Physics and Astronomy
We are still currently taking applications for 2018 entry


This course is designed to produce graduates who have a broad knowledge of physics, with particular skills in both astrophysics and theoretical physics.
Read full overview

The content is derived from the Physics with Theoretical Physics MSci degree but you will also take all the astronomy modules from the Physics with Astronomy MSci course. To fit these additional components into the course, there is reduced laboratory content.

Years one and two

As well as the core of physics, you will combine the specialized modules that make up the Physics with Theoretical Physics MSci course and the Physics with Astronomy MSci course.

Year three

In addition to pursuing studies in theoretical physics and astronomy to the highest levels, you also take the specialised modules that prepare you for the innovative way in which the final year of our MSci degree is taught.

Year four

As in the final year of all our MSci programmes, there are a variety of assessments ranging from mini projects, presentations, group work, and coursework. The synoptic element brings together advanced theoretical physics with astrophysics. You will also undertake a major research project, working on a cutting-edge problem in theoretical astrophysics.


Entry requirements

A levels: A*AA-AAA, including physics and maths at A level

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

For details of other English language tests and qualifications we accept, please see our entry requirements page.


If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications 

For details please see the alternative qualifications page

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.

Notes for applicants 

Scholarships - we offer a range of scholarships designed to assist you in settling in to your studies and meeting the financial requirements of your course. Some of these are means-tested but we also offer special scholarships that reward academic achievement.

The Sir Peter Mansfield scholarship is offered on the basis of performance in the qualifying examinations for university entrance (eg A levels). A scholarship package is also offered to reward good performance in the qualifying first-year examinations. Full details of all scholarship prizes will be provided at the UCAS open days.

For more details about scholarships, please see



The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Typical year one modules 

Mathematics for Physics and Astronomy 

You will study a selection of mathematical techniques that are useful for analysing physical behaviour. The module topics are: complex numbers, calculus of a single variable, plane geometry and conic sections, ordinary differential equations, calculus of several variables and matrices and matrix algebra.

From Newton to Einstein 

This year-long module introduces core topics in physics that underpin all subsequent physics modules. You’ll cover classical mechanics in the language of vectors and the key notion of harmonic motion, which is subsequently extended to cover wave phenomena. You’ll also gain an introduction to Einstein's special theory of relativity, quantum physics, and the basic ideas of electromagnetism.

Introductory Experimental Physics 

In this module you will receive: an introduction to the basic techniques and equipment used in experimental physics; training in the analysis and interpretation of experimental data; opportunities to observe phenomena discussed in theory modules and training in the skills of record keeping and writing scientific reports.

Quantitative Physics 

This year-long module will train you in the mathematical modelling of physical processes. You’ll be trained in topics such as basic statistics and errors, dimensional analysis, curve sketching, orders of magnitude and estimates and integrating problems in physics among others. You’ll have an hour per week of lectures plus a number of 90-minute workshops throughout the year to assist in your learning.

Computing For Physical Science 

In this year-long module you’ll learn the techniques for solving physical problems. Topics will include variables and operators, vectors and arrays and plotting 2D and 3D graphs among others.


Typical year two modules

The Structure of Stars 

This module will develop your knowledge of the various physical processes occurring in stars of different types. You’ll use this knowledge to build both mathematical models and your qualitative physical understanding of stellar structure and evolution will be enhanced. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.

Principles of Dynamics 

You’ll be introduced to the mathematical language for discussing extreme problems. The formulations of mechanics due to Lagrange and Hamilton will be described and techniques for the solutions of the consequent equations of motion will be discussed. You’ll learn the underlying principles of dynamics and develop techniques for the solution of dynamical problems. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.

Thermal and Statistical Physics 

In this year-long module you’ll learn about the two main themes relating to the description of important physical properties of matter; thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. You’ll discover that they share common features through two hours of lectures weekly and four practical workshops throughout the year.

Wave Phenomena 

Many physical systems support the propagation of waves, from the familiar waves on the surface of water to the electromagnetic waves that we perceive as light. The first half of the module will focus on optics: the study of light. Topics to be covered will include: geometrical optics; wave description of light; interference and diffraction; optical interferometry. The second half of the module will introduce more general methods for the discussion of wave propagation, and Fourier methods.

The Structure of Galaxies

This module will develop your current understanding of the various physical processes that dictate the formation, evolution and structure of galaxies. You’ll explore a number of topics including the Milky Way, the Dynamics of Galaxies, Active Galaxies and Galaxy Evolution among others. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures studying this module.


Typical year three modules

Introduction to Cosmology 

You’ll be introduced to modern cosmology – the scientific study of the Universe as a whole. Topics will cover recent observations and theoretical developments including Friedmann models, the thermal history of the Big Bang and classical cosmological tests among others. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures along with two two-hour workshops to assist your learning whilst studying this module.

Scientific Computing 

This module aims to provide you with the skills necessary to use computational methods in the solution of non-trivial problems in physics and astronomy. You’ll also sharpen your programming skills through a three hour computing class and one hour of lectures per week. 

Atoms, Photons and Fundamental Particles 

You’ll be introduced to the physics of atoms, nuclei and the fundamental constituents of matter and their interactions. You’ll gain knowledge about the quantum mechanical description of their interactions. Every week, you’ll have two hours of lectures; you'll also have five 90-minute workshops throughout the year to aid your understanding.

Extreme Astrophysics 

In this module you’ll explore the physical processes involved in extreme and explosive high-energy events known in astronomy and the relative importance of different processes in different situations. You’ll make models of extreme astrophysical sources and environments based on physical theory. You’ll also learn to interpret observational data according to relevant physical theory. You’ll have two hours of lectures per week studying this module.

Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics 

You’ll have an introduction to theoretical aspects of the standard model of particle physics. You’ll learn about ideas such as symmetry and conservation laws through a number of different topics including relativistic notation, relativistic particles, Feynman diagrams and discrete symmetries among others. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.


Typical year four modules


This module provides an introduction to the modern theory of gravitation: Einstein's general theory of relativity. This module is based on a regular series of two one-hour lectures per week supplemented by a two-hour workshop once a fortnight.

Research Techniques in Astronomy 

This module develops a range of modern astronomical techniques through student-centered approaches to topical research problems. You’ll cover a range of topics related to ongoing research in astronomy and astrophysics, and will encompass theoretical and observational approaches. This module is based on individual and group student-led activities involving the solution of topical problems including written reports and exercises, and a project.

Modern Cosmology 

This module introduces you to the key ideas behind modern approaches to our understanding of the role of inflation in the early and late universe, in particular through the formation of structure, the generation of anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background radiation, and the origin of dark energy. You’ll study through a series of staff lectures and student-led workshops.


Typical optional modules

Here is a small sample of modules you will be able to choose from:

Imaging and Manipulation at the Nanoscale 

This module will introduce you to the basic ideas of scanning probe microscopy and the way in which scanning probe systems such as scanning tunneling microscopes (STM) can be used to carry out nanoscale manipulation of solid surfaces. Throughout the course images from the current research literature will be introduced to inform you of the range of possible applications of these techniques. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.

Quantum Coherent Phenomena 

This module will introduce you to a range of physical phenomena which exhibit macroscopic quantum coherence including Bose condensation in cold atomic gases, superfluidity in Helium-4 and superconductivity in metals and alloys. You’ll discuss their common features and general theoretical ideas as well as some of their applications. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.

Semiconductor Physics

This module introduces you to the physical properties of semiconductors and low-dimensional systems, such as quantum wells, wires and dots. The aim is to explain the physics that underlies optical and transport properties of these structures and their applications in advanced technologies. This course is structured in two main parts; the foundation of quantum mechanics and solid state physics needed to describe a low dimensional system. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures.



You will have a sound understanding of the theories and principles underpinning theoretical physics and astrophysics and will have explored them independently in a major theoretical project. You will have developed transferable skills including problem-solving, communication, and mathematical skills.

Professional accreditation 

The Institute of Physics accredits bachelor and integrated masters degree programmes for the purposes of the professional award of Chartered Physicist. Chartered Physicist requires an IOP accredited degree followed by an appropriate period of experience during which professional skills are acquired. 

An accredited integrated masters degree fulfils the academic requirements for Chartered Physicist. 

institute of physics

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 86.6% of undergraduates in the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £24,386 with the highest being £55,000.* 

* Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Careers support and advice

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.  

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers
(Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2017, High Fliers Research).


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.

How to use the data

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


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