The University of Southampton

F303 MPhys Particle Physics with a Research Year Abroad (4 Years)

Become part of the international research team at CERN and spend a year investigating the fundamental building blocks of the universe. You’ll gain a profound knowledge of core physics topics, including an in-depth understanding of particle physics. You’ll then work on a project at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland – you might be studying the differences between matter and antimatter or searching for new particles. If your ambition is to become a professional researcher, this is an exceptional opportunity to gain advanced knowledge and experience that will give you a big advantage when you apply for a PhD.

How to applyFind out how to apply for this course

Introducing your degree

We're ranked 6th in the UK for physics by the Guardian University Guide 2019.

What is the universe made of, and how did it begin? Physicists at CERN are exploring these questions, using the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter. Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) led to the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the Higgs boson, and the search for new particles continues.

If you’re one of the top-performing students on our MPhys Physics degree, you can apply to spend your fourth year immersed in this vibrant international research environment. We are the only UK university to offer a physics degree with an integrated one-year placement at CERN, so it’s a unique opportunity to get a taste of PhD-level research.

Your experience at CERN will be recognised by research institutions all over the world, opening up a wide range of PhD possibilities. If you decide to pursue a different career, your rigorous physics training will prepare you for success in your chosen profession.

Ali Farzaneh Far
Working at CERN has been extremely exciting. Aside from the opportunity to contribute to the experiments and learn a great deal from those with whom I’ve worked, I’d have to say the most rewarding and entertaining part is attending talks from leading experts in all area of physics.
Ali Farzaneh Far, MPhys Particle Physics with a Research Year Abroad, 2015


What is this?(More Information)This information is based on historical data and may have been aggregated. It is also subject to theUniversity's disclaimer notice.

Whilst at Southampton you'll gain a thorough understanding of fundamental areas of physics through theoretical and lab-based work. In addition, you’ll take modules in particle physics, advanced quantum physics and advanced computing.

You’ll be well prepared for your time at CERN, where you’ll work on one of three experiments at the LHC: 

  • LHCb, which is investigating differences between matter and antimatter by studying a type of particle called the ‘beauty quark’, or ‘b quark’
  • ATLAS or CMS, both of which are broad research programmes looking for new particles – you could be involved in the search for heavy quarks, heavy bosons or supersymmetric particles

The research projects on offer typically fall into two categories – improving the huge detectors that observe the collisions created in the particle accelerators, or analysing the resulting data to test physics hypotheses. So whether your interests lie in theoretical studies or more practical experimentation, there will be a project to suit you.

You’ll become part of a major international collaboration, working alongside the PhD students at CERN, participating in working group sessions with other researchers on your project and presenting your work to colleagues. Some of our students have the opportunity to present at external conferences, and your research could lead to the publication of your first scientific paper.

You’ll be well supported during your time abroad, with a research supervisor on site at CERN, and regular communication with academics at Southampton.

It’s also a great opportunity to broaden your life experience. You’ll live and work in one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities, with beautiful lakes and mountains nearby. And as a member of the CERN community you can get involved in some of the many staff-run clubs and social activities. 

View the 2018/19 programme specification document for this course

View the 2019/20 programme specification document for this course

Research-grade facilities

In your first three years you’ll use state-of-the-art equipment in our teaching laboratories, with guidance from expert technicians who are there to support your experimental work. You’ll also benefit from our recently refurbished Physics and Astronomy foyer, with a specialist library and dedicated study spaces. 

During your year abroad you’ll have access to CERN’s library and computing facilities. If you’d like to improve your French, a programme of language classes is also on offer.

A top-five research department

Study with us and you’ll join one of the top five Russell Group departments for physics and astronomy research (REF 2014). Our research reputation is built on a track record of discovery and we remain on the frontline of new developments. For example, Southampton physicists were instrumental in the development of erbium-doped amplifiers, which make today’s internet possible. More recently our scientists were involved in detecting gravitational waves and light from the collision of two neutron stars for the first time.

Particle physics is a major research area at Southampton, so you’ll learn from expert academics who bring new theories and discoveries to the classroom. Staff in our Theoretical Particle Physics group are investigating the latest ideas in the field; their projects include analysis of LHC data from CERN to contribute to the search for undiscovered particles. The group’s work is enriched by its involvement in the South East Physics network (SEPnet) particle physics collaboration, which links the work of specialists across a number of UK universities and research institutes.


Our MPhys Physics programmes are accredited by the Institute of Physics

Programme Structure

If you’re among the top-performing students on the MPhys Physics degree, you’ll be invited to apply for this flagship degree at the end of year two. If you’re successful, you’ll switch to the flagship programme at the start of year three. The third-year curriculum is carefully coordinated to cover the core MPhys Physics modules and specialist particle physics modules, leaving year four clear for your time at CERN.

Optional modules allow you to pursue your physics interests. You could also broaden your education by learning a language or choosing from a range of innovative cross-disciplinary modules, on topics including law, business and bioengineering.

To Apply

All undergraduate applications for Physics and Astronomy should be made online through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Students interested in this degree should apply to F303 MPhys Physics.

Find out how to apply and get further details about UCAS' website, phone and contact details.

Key Facts

We rank sixth for physics in the Guardian University Guide 2019

Top three for Overall Student Satisfaction in the Russell Group in the National Student Survey for the last four years (not all Russell Group universities are returned in the National Student Survey every year)

100 per cent of our Physics and Astronomy research has been rated world leading or internationally excellent for its impact on society (REF 2014)

Join the international research team at CERN in Geneva. Gain experience that will make you stand out from the crowd when applying for a PhD.

Live and work in one of Europe's most cosmopolitan cities, with beautiful scenery nearby.

Welcome to Physics and Astronomy at Southampton

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

A Levels:
A Level

AAA, including AA in Mathematics and Physics


GCSE Mathematics and English at grade C or above

Alternative qualifications:

We welcome applications from candidates offering qualifications other than A and AS levels (including BTEC, European Baccalaureate, International Baccalaureate, Irish Leaving Certificate and Scottish Highers). You will be expected to attain an equivalent standard to an A level applicant.

International applicants:

We welcome applications from international students. Visit our international site for more information about our international student community, support and how to apply.

Mature applicants:

We welcome applications from mature students. If you will be over 21 at the start of your proposed degree programme, you are eligible for exemption from our normal entry requirements. However, you will be required to provide evidence of having completed recent study (eg Access, Return to Study, Open University foundation courses) and of your capacity to pursue the course.

Selection process:

We select students on the basis of a UCAS application.
UCAS code: F303
Course title: MPhys Particle Physics
Course duration: 4 years


Year 4

Career Opportunities

With a well-respected physics degree and a year of intensive research experience at CERN, you’ll graduate with an extremely impressive CV. The majority of students on this programme go on to do a PhD, while some go into industry research.

If you choose a career outside physics, your ability to analyse, understand and model situations in order to solve problems will be in high demand in a wide range of professions. You’ll be able to demonstrate transferable skills such as computation and coding, communication and project management. In addition, your physics degree will indicate to employers that you are an independent thinker who is not afraid of an intellectual challenge.

Tailored careers support

You can attend a programme of career-focused sessions in year two, designed specially for physics students and timetabled to fit in with your studies. They include application and interview workshops, as well as talks from visiting professionals. We can also help you to find a paid summer placement through the SEPnet scheme, giving you valuable real-world experience and the chance to make industry contacts.

Career destinations

Around a third of our Physics and Astronomy graduates go on to do a PhD. Others choose a career in the private and public sectors, in government, defence, finance, business, and industry. Here are just some of the roles they have secured:

  • astrophysicist
  • acoustician
  • air traffic controller
  • bioinformatics specialist
  • data analyst
  • government science policy officer
  • medical physicist 
  • satellite engineer
  • science communicator
  • software engineer
  • statistician
  • systems analyst
  • weather forecaster
  • web developer

Learning & Assessment

Professionalism in teaching

You’ll learn from academics who pay as much care and attention to their teaching as they do to their research. We’re keen to share our knowledge and enthusiasm for physics with you, and inspire the next generation of physicists.

Find out more

We combine traditional teaching and learning methods with tried-and-tested innovations to improve your learning experience. Use interactive technology to ask a question from your seat in the lecture hall and receive a response during the session. Or get a bit of extra help by watching a tutor explain a tricky physics problem via online video tutorials.

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Course fees for 2017/18 full-time UK and EU undergraduate students are typically £9,250 per year. Tuition fees for international students differ between each course. Most part-time courses cost 50% of the full-time fee.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Particle Physics Research Project (PHYS6016)
For AY 2016/17 onwards: The stay at CERN will typically be for 8 months. Payable home accommodation will be provided by RAL staff, and tuition fees will be charged at 15% of the standard level. A £500 Southampton Opportunity scholarship will be awarded to help cover for the difference in living costs between Southampton and Geneva and the purchase of at least one return flight.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

Approved CalculatorsCandidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved models are Casio FX-570 and Casio FX-85GT Plus. These may be purchased from any source and no longer need to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc). Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
TextbooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source.

Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
Printing and Photocopying CostsIn the majority of cases, coursework such as essays; projects; dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. A list of the University printing costs can be found here:

In some cases you’ll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at


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