The University of Southampton

F303 MPhys Physics with a Year of Experimental Research (4 Years)

From ultra-efficient solar cells to revolutionary quantum computing technologies, the closely related fields of nanoscience, photonics and quantum physics continue to change the world. Offered to top-performing students on the MPhys Physics, MPhys Physics with Nanotechnology and MPhys Physics with Photonics degrees, this flagship programme is a chance to undertake an in-depth, year-long experimental research project that will contribute to our understanding of these dynamic fields.

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.

This flagship degree combines a rigorous physics training with the opportunity to spend your fourth year immersed in full-time experimental research. You’ll work alongside professional researchers in our highly regarded Quantum, Light and Matter research group, based in our materials and photonics labs and with access to our £120m Cleanroom Complex – one of the best of its kind in Europe. Previous projects have involved exploring the properties of carbon nanotubes and optimising holograms for use in quantum computing.

As well as gaining a deep understanding of core physics theories, you’ll get a taste of PhD-level research. Your advanced experimental research skills will make you stand out from the competition if you decide to apply for a PhD. Or you could decide to use your physicist’s talent for analysis, computing and problem solving to pursue a career in industry R&D or in numerous professions outside physics.

Tom Crane
The programme helped me to develop the skills and knowledge of a professional physicist and gave me a competitive advantage when applying for jobs and scholarships. I’m currently working in the UK defence sector, applying the knowledge and skills gained during my degree to real-world problems.
Tom Crane, MPhys Physics with a Year of Experimental Research, 2016


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.

For the first three years you’ll follow the MPhys Physics, MPhys Physics with Photonics or MPhys Physics with Nanotechnology degree programme (depending on which degree you applied to study). Alongside your core physics studies you’ll choose from a suite of optional modules, including advanced mathematics, photonics and nanoscience modules that will equip you for your year in research. Through your module selection you can create a pathway towards the research area that most interests you.

The Quantum, Light and Matter group will propose a range of topics to choose from for your fourth-year project, but if you’re interested in doing something that’s not on the list we’ll support you to do it.

Past projects have involved:

  • working with lasers on squeezed light quantum experiments
  • nanoparticle manipulation using optical tweezers
  • looking at the localisation of light in photonic crystals
  • hologram optimisation for polariton condensation for quantum computing
  • examining the properties of filled carbon nanotubes using Raman scattering

You’ll work under the supervision of an academic who is an expert in the field, conducting novel research that you will write up, present and be tested on in an oral exam. You could even achieve your first publication in a scientific journal.

View the 2018/19 programme specification document for this course

View the 2019/20 programme specification document for this course

Research-grade facilities

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. During your year in research you’ll have access to specialist facilities, such as:

  • the Nanomaterials Rapid Prototyping Facility, for building and testing novel nanodevices
  • a photonics lab with the latest laser equipment
  • a £120m Cleanroom Complex for fabrication at the atomic level
  • one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers

A top-five research department

Gain your physics degree from 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 are essential to today’s global internet. More recently our scientists were involved in detecting gravitational waves and light from the collision of two neutron stars for the first time.

Our modules are taught by academics who are active researchers, and during your year in the lab you’ll work directly with materials physics experts from our Quantum, Light and Matter research group. We regularly update our modules based on new findings, and you’ll hear about the latest discoveries as they happen – often before they are published and reported in the media.


Our MPhys Physics programmes are accredited by the Institute of Physics

Programme Structure

Through theoretical and lab-based work, year one will introduce you to fundamental areas of physics such as special relativity, quantum physics and electromagnetism. You’ll gain more in-depth knowledge as you progress through the degree, applying your learning in more advanced areas including particle physics and atomic physics.

If you’re among our top-performing students you’ll have the opportunity to move onto the MPhys Physics with a Year of Experimental Research degree in year two. You can then choose from a suite of specialist modules in mathematics, photonics or nanoscience, which will equip you for your year in research.

You’ll join the Quantum, Light and Matter research group from September to May in year four, after which you’ll complete your final report and presentation, and prepare for an oral exam.

Our programmes are highly flexible, enabling you to follow 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, F390 MPhys Physics with Nanotechnology or F369 MPhys Physics with Photonics. 

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

Key Facts

We are sixth for physics in the Guardian University Guide 2019

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

Our top performing students can apply to join the Physics with Experimental Research degree at the end of second year

You'll spend your fourth year working alongside professional researchers in our Quantum, Light and Matter research group. It's a fantastic opportunity to develop research skills and prepare for a PhD.

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 Physics with a Year of Experimental Research Course duration: 4 years


Career Opportunities

If you are interested in a career in physics research, this degree will give you a head start. With a year of advanced-level research experience you’ll be in the ideal position to apply for a PhD – a path followed by around a third of Physics and Astronomy graduates. The specialist skills and experience you gain will also be attractive to industry R&D companies.

A physics degree also opens up a range of exciting professions in other fields. You’ll be able to demonstrate leadership, the ability to think and work independently, and your capacity to rise to a challenge. You’ll also gain valuable transferable skills such as statistical analysis, computation and coding, problem-solving, communication and project management. 

If you’re not sure about your career goals, we’ll offer the support you need to help you identify the right path. We run career-focused sessions in year two, designed specially for physics students and timetabled to fit in with your studies. These 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 South East Physics Network scheme, giving you valuable real-world experience and the chance to make industry contacts.

Our graduates work 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

Our academics 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 about our commitment to professionalism in teaching

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 derivation 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

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

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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