Undergraduate study - 2022 entry
Open to the world

MPhys Physics with a Year Abroad

UCAS code: W2S4

Duration: 5 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Physics and Astronomy

College: Science and Engineering

Study abroad

Introducing MPhys Physics with a Year Abroad

This programme combines most aspects of the standard MPhys Physics degree with the opportunity to undertake a year-long research project abroad in Year 4.

Course content covers all aspects of physics, from the very basics to the current frontiers of knowledge.

Compared to the normal study exchange offered as part of any physics degree, you will focus on conducting an innovative research project at a partner institution overseas.


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 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 introduces you to the fundamentals of quantum physics and how this impacts our understanding of the universe.

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.

You will be able to choose two further subjects 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

If you enter the programme in Year 2 you will also take additional introductory courses in classical physics and mathematics.

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

Year 3

You will study:

  • thermodynamics
  • statistical mechanics
  • electromagnetism
  • optics
  • quantum mechanics

We also offer:

  • a supporting mathematics course covering Fourier analysis, probability and statistics
  • a computing course on numerical algorithms
  • an introductory course to research methods
  • a course on experimental laboratory

Year 4

You will undertake a year abroad at a partner institution and complete an extended research project.

Year 5

You will study compulsory courses covering:

  • relativity
  • nuclear and particle physics
  • condensed matter physics
  • quantum and statistical physics

You will also undertake a research project and will be able to choose a number of advanced-level courses from a wide range available.

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 (2021/22)

Our facilities

In Year 1, teaching is based in the University's Central Area and in further years at the University's King's Buildings campus. The King's Buildings campus is around 15 minutes from central Edinburgh via bus.

During your first three years, you will use the undergraduate laboratories and the University's libraries and computer facilities. From Year 2 you will also have access to the Computational Physics Laboratory.

In Year 5 you will typically complete a project within a research group, where you will be able to access the University's world-class research equipment and facilities.

Study abroad

You will spend a year abroad at a partner institution during the senior Honours year (Year 4) of your programme.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • practicals

These will fully exploit the latest teaching technology and help to develop your problem-solving skills.

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

How will I be assessed?

Assessment is by a combination of continuous assessment and examinations. Practical and computing courses have laboratory write-ups and checkpoint assessments.

Other courses are assessed by:

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

A year abroad will provide you with valuable research skills and offers the chance to broaden your views and gain new insight from different perspectives.

This programme provides a basis for a career in any number of disciplines. In particular, our graduates are highly sought after for jobs in:

  • computing
  • the manufacturing industry
  • finance
  • accountancy
  • teaching
  • the public sector

If you get a first or a good upper second class degree you have the chance of obtaining a postgraduate studentship for a PhD - with the possibility of a career in research or research support.

The PhD is usually followed by one or more postdoctoral fellowships. These are fully paid professional roles, lasting one to three years. Often, you can take these up abroad. Normally, a permanent job is sought after such a fellowship.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA - AAAB (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA - ABB.
  • 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 (from 2021, 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

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

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 666 at HL to include Mathematics (from 2021, Mathematics: Analysis and approaches only) and Physics at 6.
Other entry pathways

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

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


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
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 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 module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components

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

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

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 Physics with a Year Abroad

Additional costs

You should expect to purchase 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