Discover Physics in the UK

Studying Physics is a unique opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the great. From Newton, Faraday, Maxwell and Watt to Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking, the United Kingdom has had more than its fair share of brilliant minds. This is a trend that looks set to continue - UK scientific departments have a reputation for top rate work and in a recent subject review, Physics departments achieved consistently high scores for teaching quality.


1998 saw a British team of physicists design and build the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier: Thrust SSC. Scientists around the world were astonished - though theoretically possible, many had believed that it was impossible to build such a vehicle in practice. On the experimental side, the UK collaborates on international projects such as CERN (high-energy particle physics) andJET (the experimental fusion reactor), as well as having a number of high quality research facilities such as the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

If you come to study in the UK, you will have the chance to develop your English skills and gain confidence in giving oral presentations (as well as producing written reports). Since this is the language of the scientific community, these will be valuable skills for your future career. Also, there is a range of qualifications open to you at the tertiary education level, so that there is something to suit everyone's ability. Regardless of the scientific level of your education to date, there should be a course to suit you, from Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) to degree.


Most UK Universities offer two types of undergraduate degree - a Bachelors degree (BSc) typically of three years duration or a Masters degree (MSci or MPhys) of around four years. The courses also cover a wide variety of topics, with many institutions offering modules in medical physics, astronomy, space science, applied physics and other related topics. The modular course structure at many universities means that you can tailor your course to fit your interests and career aspirations.


Some universities also offer courses where you can incorporate industrial placements and other work experience into your studies. This is a great opportunity for you to try out your chosen career. Most universities specialize within certain areas of physics. Whilst their undergraduates will study across a broad spectrum, you will find that the researchers work in only four or five regions. This means that you can select an institution where world-leading researchers are working at the front line of scientific discovery that interests you.

Studying in the UK is an enjoyable experience, with all universities boasting a vast range of student societies that will offer you the opportunity to try new activities. Whether you want to do conservation work, write for the student newspaper, learn to sail a boat or ballroom dance, there will be a group ready to help you. A high number of universities have a Physics Society that organizes events in addition to your academic course, such as inviting guest speakers, arranging tours of research facilities and industrial sites and holding social functions that provide an excellent opportunity to meet the more senior physicists at your department.


A great number of international students come to the UK from all over the world, so you will never be the only person who is not local. In fact, many universities have an International Office to support you through your studies and organize events where you can meet up with other international students and share your experiences.

Employment opportunities are good for those with physics qualifications. Most enjoy good salaries and work in diverse areas, from finance to research. Once you have a physics degree, you have set yourself up for a successful career, no matter what field you eventually work in.


The Institute of Physics is the UK-based professional body for physicists, and can help you to obtain internationally recognised professional status, such as Chartered Physicist (CPhys) and Chartered Engineer (CEng). To help you choose a physics course in the UK, the Institute of Physics produces a free guidebook, entitled 'Physics on Course', which details all the tertiary physics courses available in the country.


To receive this or any other information about studying Physics in the UK, please contact:

The Institute of Physics, 76 Portland Place, London, W1B 1NT, UK or visit:

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