Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MPhys Astrophysics

UCAS code: F361

Duration: 5 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Physics and Astronomy

College: Science and Engineering

Study abroad

Introducing MPhys Astrophysics

Astrophysics introduces you to the basics of physics and demonstrates how this knowledge can be applied to the physics of astronomy. Recent astronomical discoveries have made it an increasingly popular area of study.

The School of Physics and Astronomy has close links with the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, one of the UK's major centres of astronomical research.

The Institute for Astronomy (IfA), one of the School's research institutes, is based at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

Recently there have been dramatic astronomical discoveries and gathering of large amounts of data. Therefore, this is a very exciting time to study astrophysics.

We try to provide a unique and deep insight into the major scientific controversies of our time.

Studying astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh

What do our students think?


Accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP). In addition, the programme fully meets the educational requirements for Chartered Physicist.

Year 1

You will study compulsory courses in physics and mathematics.

Physics 1A

Physics 1A presents the pillars of physics upon which subsequent material is based. This will develop your problem solving and study skills. The course is innovative in its use of technology and offers an interactive learning experience.

Physics 1B

Physics 1B introduces you to a wide range of physics topics and how these impact our understanding of the universe, including:

  • waves
  • introductory quantum mechanics
  • nuclear and particle physics

This also includes an introduction to University laboratory work.

Mathematics for Physics 1 and 2

You will study Mathematics for Physics 1 and 2, which include mathematical and problem-solving skills in the context of algebra and calculus - with an increasing emphasis on physical applications.

Option courses

You will also have the option of studying one of the following:

  • Discovering Astronomy and Astrobiology
  • Introductory Astrophysics

You can also decide to select courses from other academic areas.

Year 2

You will study modern physics and physics of fields and matter.

Supporting mathematics courses will cover:

  • algebra
  • calculus
  • dynamics and vector calculus

You will also be introduced to practical physics, including:

  • programming
  • data analysis
  • experimental techniques

You will have the freedom to choose one or two courses from other academic areas.

Year 3

You will be introduced to practical astronomy with the Observational Astronomy course.

In addition, you will study:

  • thermal physics
  • Fourier analysis and statistics
  • electromagnetism
  • quantum mechanics

We also offer:

  • a computing course on numerical algorithms
  • an introductory course to research methods

Year 4

You will study compulsory courses covering:

  • astrophysics
  • cosmology
  • relativity, nuclear and particle physics

In the honours years, the programme comprises a range of specialist courses.

Option courses

You will have a choice of option courses including:

  • High Energy Astrophysics
  • Radiation and Matter
  • Computational Astrophysics
  • Galaxies
  • Stellar Evolution
  • Advanced Cosmology
  • General Relativity

Telescope Group project

You will also take part in the Telescope Group project. You will work in small groups to carry out a project based around the Institute for Astronomy's 20-inch telescope.

The datasets obtained will be combined with data from the literature in order to derive a fundamental measurement.

You will be given a choice from different projects and will plan, carry out, and analyse the observations and literature data.

Year 5

Research project

In Year 5, you will complete a major research project in astrophysics, with the results being presented in a dissertation and oral presentation.

Projects may be:

  • computational
  • experimental
  • instrumental
  • observational

Advanced-level courses

You will also complete a number of advanced-level courses.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

Teaching is based in the University's King's Buildings campus and at the School of Physics and Astronomy facilities in the Royal Observatory Edinburgh on Blackford Hill.

The King's Buildings campus is around 15 minutes from central Edinburgh by bus.

The location of your optional courses will depend on what courses you choose.

During your first three years, you will have access to:

  • the School of Physics and Astronomy undergraduate laboratories
  • the University's libraries and computer facilities

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the School of Physics and Astronomy and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of the School of Physics and Astronomy

Study abroad

You will have the opportunity to study abroad through international exchange programmes.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will learn from specialists in the field through a mix of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • practicals

We use the latest teaching technology and these methods will help to develop your problem-solving skills.

From Year 3, you will also complete group projects and research projects under the supervision of one of the School’s academic or research staff members.

How will I be supported?

You will be fully supported throughout your time in the School of Physics and Astronomy.

All students in the School of Physics and Astronomy have a named Student Adviser offering advice on well-being and study support issues.

You will also benefit from mentoring by a member of academic staff who will oversee your progress and advise on your academic options.

There are two peer support schemes that allow new students to get help from more experienced students:

  • The Physics Peer Mentoring Scheme pairs trained mentors (honours students) with pre-honours students to help them work on whatever area of study they would like to improve.

  • The Maths Buddies Scheme runs weekly study sessions focusing on support for maths questions and problems.

In addition, the School of Physics and Astronomy has year representatives for every year of each of our programmes, acting as a link between students and staff. The role of the representative is to ensure that students' views on academic matters are heard.

In the intermediate and advanced years, you will find you are a member of a relatively small and close-knit group of students.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment includes a combination of:

  • regular hand-ins
  • in-class assessments
  • online tests
  • end of semester examinations

Practical and computing courses have laboratory write-ups and checkpoint assessments.

Other courses are assessed by:

  • presentations
  • peer assessing each other's work
  • writing critical reviews of scientific literature

Exams are in December and May.

Many employers recognise that physics graduates have advanced problem-solving skills and the ability to think logically and critically about complex situations.

Graduates have opportunities in a diverse range of careers using skills gained from this degree, such as:

  • a high level of mathematical ability

  • IT proficiency

  • communication skills

Where our graduates work

Our recent graduates have gone on into employment with a wide variety of industries and organisations, including:

  • The European Space Agency
  • BBC
  • IBM

Physicists are sought after by many sectors, including:

  • engineering
  • manufacturing
  • energy
  • finance
  • medicine
  • the space industries

Further opportunities for study

A number of our graduates go on to further study, for example:

  • PhD research
  • a masters degree in a science or engineering subject
  • a postgraduate diploma in education

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA - ABB in one set of exams.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 32 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: AABB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 32 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: Mathematics at A and Physics at B. Higher Applications of Mathematics is not accepted in place of Higher Mathematics. Advanced Higher Mathematics is recommended. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Mathematics at A and Physics at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 6 and Physics at 5. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

For direct entry to second year the standard requirements must be exceeded, including the following:

  • SQA Advanced Highers: AAA to include Mathematics and Physics.
  • A Levels: A*AA in one set of exams to include Mathematics at A* and Physics.
  • IB: 38 points with 766 at HL to include Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 7 and Physics at 6.
Other entry pathways

Entry to many degrees in Science & Engineering is possible via other qualifications (eg HNC/D, Access, SWAP).

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)


We normally make offers to the highest qualified applicants. If competition for places is high this may mean that offers will only be made to applicants who are predicted, or who have achieved, above the single set of grades or the upper grade level in a range. Any conditional offer made may require you to achieve grades above the upper grade level. Therefore, achieving the top of our standard entry requirements does not guarantee a place on the relevant degree.

Please apply for only one Physics degree as we are only able to consider one application to this subject area. You will have the opportunity to switch between programmes in later years provided the required courses have been passed.

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MPhys Astrophysics

Additional costs

You should expect to buy the necessary textbooks for some compulsory and option components of your programme.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

More information

How to apply

School: Physics and Astronomy

College: Science and Engineering