Physics with Theoretical Physics MSci


Fact file - 2019 entry

MSci Hons Physics with Theoretical Physics
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

This courses provides a broad knowledge of physics, with a special emphasis on the theoretical aspects. Alongside core physics modules, you will take a series of more specialised modules that develop the key ideas and main mathematical and computational techniques of theoretical physics. To fit in the extra theoretical components, laboratory work is only undertaken in the first year.

Year one

You will take the same core physics modules as in the MSci Physics (F303) programme, with the Frontiers in Physics module offering an introduction to an array of specialised topics.

Year two 

The core physics programme is the same as in F303, but you do not have to undertake any laboratory work in this or the subsequent year. The time freed up is used to pursue more sophisticated modules in theoretical physics.

Year three 

In addition to the core physics modules, and modules on the BSc Physics with Theoretical Physics programme targeted at theoretical physicists, you will take the specialised modules that prepare you for the innovative way in which the final year in our MSci degree is taught. You will also undertake a project to develop your research skills in theoretical physics.

Year four 

The final year is taught in a completely different way. You will undertake a range of activities (mini projects, presentations and similar), which are synoptic in nature, interweaving the subjects learned in previous years to develop a broad understanding of physics. You will also carry out a major research project, either involving consultancy work in industry or collaboration within a research group at Nottingham or elsewhere.


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 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. 

One 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. This scheme includes special prizes that have been inaugurated in collaboration with our commercial partners. Full details of all scholarship prizes will be provided at the UCAS open days.

For more details about scholarships, please visit the School of Physics & Astronomy website.



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 aims to introduce core topics in physics which will underpin all subsequent physics modules. You’ll discuss classical mechanics in the language of vectors and the key notion of harmonic motion which is extended to cover wave phenomena. You’ll have an introduction to Einstein's special theory of relativity as well as the basic ideas of electromagnetism and electrical circuits and quantum physics.

Frontiers in Physics 

This module introduces you to major areas of physics beyond those encountered in the core modules, including those at the forefront of modern research. Particular focus is placed on introductions to astronomy, biophysics and nanoscience. Other topics include condensed matter physics, atomic and particle physics and the physics of the environment.

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 

You’ll learn the techniques for solving physical problems using MatLab. Topics will include variables and operators, vectors and arrays and plotting 2D and 3D graphs among others.


Typical year two modules

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.

The Quantum World 

This module will provide an introduction to the theory and applications of quantum mechanics, a theory that is one of the key achievements of 20th century physics. This module will begin with a discussion of simple systems and develop the mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics. The module will then extend the formalism to cope with the movement of particles and make links to the material that you have seen in the 'From Newton to Einstein' 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.

Symmetry and Action Principles in Physics

Symmetry is a powerful notion, both in the development of theories of physical phenomena and in the solution of physical models. In this module the basic aspects of the mathematical language of symmetry will be introduced and applied to a range of physical phenomena, as well as the principle of least action, introduced in The Principles of Dynamics module, will be further developed.


Typical year three modules

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. 

Quantum Dynamics 

In this module you’ll develop your knowledge of quantum theory with a focus on how quantum systems evolve over time. You’ll enhance your knowledge of mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics as well as introducing important physical models and calculation techniques. You’ll cover the dynamics of operators and wavefunctions which can be applied to time-dependent problems. These ideas will then be used to explore some of the quantum dynamical properties of the harmonic oscillator and the two-level system. You’ll have two hours of lectures per week plus two ninety-minute workshops studying this module.

Atoms, Photons and Fundamental Particles 

In this year-long module 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 aide your understanding.

Introduction to Solid-State Physics 

In this year-long module you’ll be introduced to solid state physics. You’ll explore the topics of bonding, crystal structures, band theory, semi-conductors, phonons and magnetism among others. You’ll apply theoretical ideas to the quantitative analysis of physical situations. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures, plus five 90-minute workshops throughout the year.

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 a 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.

Light and Matter 

This module will extend previous work in the areas of atomic and optical physics to cover modern topics in the area of quantum effects in light-matter interactions. Some basic material will be introduced in six staff-led seminars and you’ll have around two hours of lectures and student-led workshops each week. 


Typical optional 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.

Health Physics 

Radiation is a term which can cover many different phenomena and in the public eye radiation can often be seen as a danger. In this module you will learn how physicists can harness the health benefits of using radiation, as well as measuring and controlling levels of radiation in the environment. You’ll examine the biological effects of radiation and the principles which govern safe exposure limits. Around two hours per week will be spent in lectures supplemented by student-led workshop sessions.

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.

Introduction to Cosmology 

In this module 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.

Functional Medical Imaging 

The techniques for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) are explored. You’ll be introduced to the brain imaging technique of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), giving an overview of the physics involved in this technique. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures. 

Force and Function at the Nanoscale 

This module will provide an introduction to how forces at the nanoscale are radically different to those observed in macroscopic systems and how they can be exploited in nanometre-scale processes and devices. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures and have two workshops during the semester.

Molecular Biophysics

This module will explore the structure of molecules of biological importance and their mutual interactions and dynamics. Emphasis will be placed on the physical determination of molecular structure and intermolecular forces. Furthermore, techniques to study dynamics on the molecular level will be discussed.



You will have developed a wide variety of skills including the ability to process complex information, to analyse data, and to problem solve using advanced mathematical methods.

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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