The University of Southampton

F369 MPhys Physics with Photonics (4 Years)

Discover the world-changing field of photonics – the science of light – and apply your physics knowledge to the next generation of technologies. From the optical fibres that underpin today’s global internet to new medical treatments, photonics has transformed our lives, and the potential for new applications is vast. With a rigorous training in core areas of physics and specialist photonics skills and knowledge, you’ll graduate with a skill set that is in great demand in the fast-growing photonics industry. Your finely tuned analytical skills will also be sought after in any number of other professions. 

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.

You’ll join a university with a vibrant photonics research scene and a history of revolutionary discoveries – for example the optical fibres and amplifiers that make the internet possible were developed here at Southampton. In fact, we're the only UK university to offer an undergraduate degree in physics with photonics.

This degree has close links with the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), a global hub for photonics research and the largest and longest-established centre of its kind in the UK. This means we can offer you an unrivalled depth and breadth of photonics study through optional modules, which reflect the varied interests of our physics researchers and those in the ORC.

Sam Birtwell, MPhys Physics with Photonics
I chose to study at Southampton because the Physics and Astronomy department was one of very few in the country offering the optics and photonics specialism I was interested in. This, backed up by the cutting-edge research in the department and in the Optoelectronics Research Centre, made Southampton the obvious choice.
Sam Birtwell, MPhys Physics with Photonics


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.

Alongside core physics modules, you’ll be introduced to photonics from semester one, learning about the interaction of light and matter and gaining an understanding of lasers and optical fibres. You’ll build on this knowledge throughout the course, spending plenty of time in the lab as well as in lectures. In year two, for example, you’ll explore photonics theory through advanced experiments, developing practical skills while exploring key underpinning concepts.

Through a wide choice of photonics-focused optional modules, including MSc-level modules delivered by the ORC, you can gain a deep understanding of areas of photonics that interest you. 

In year four you’ll have the chance to generate new photonics knowledge by undertaking an extended research project in a field that interests you. The breadth of photonics research that takes place here means you’ll have a wide choice of projects, in areas such as:

  • the use of photonics in quantum computing
  • holography
  • high-resolution x-ray for imaging at the nanoscale  
  • the control of matter with light, for example optical tweezers or the use of lasers in cold-atom physics
  • photosensitive materials, liquid crystals and polymers
  • optical fibres
  • silicon photonics
  • fundamental research into light-matter interactions

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, which include a dedicated photonics lab with the latest laser equipment. Expert technicians are on hand to support your experimental work.

You’ll also have the chance to access the ORC’s photonics facilities, which comprise over 100 laboratories including a £120m cleanroom complex and four fibre towers, with capabilities better than any other UK university. As well as seeing fibres being made, you’ll visit high-power laser labs and telecoms labs, giving you a deeper insight into the topics you’re studying.

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

You’ll be studying in an environment that is rich in photonics research, with an active Quantum, Light and Matter research group within the department and close collaboration with the ORC. You’ll be taught by researchers from both, which means you’ll learn about the latest developments in this fast-developing field.


Our MPhys Physics programmes are accredited by the Institute of Physics

Programme Structure

Throughout the degree you’ll study core physics subjects alongside specialist photonics modules. Optional modules in years three and four give you the freedom to:

  • deepen your knowledge in specific areas of photonics
  • learn more about closely related topics, such as nanoscience or advanced quantum physics
  • strengthen your computing and mathematical skills
  • study a physics topic in another field that you’ve always wanted to know more about

You could also broaden your intellectual horizons by learning a language or choosing from a range of innovative cross-disciplinary modules, on topics including law, business and bioengineering.

If you change your mind about your field of study after you arrive, our programme structure makes it possible to switch to the MPhys Physics or BSc Physics degree up until the end of year two. It may also be possible to change to one of the other specialist programmes, provided you’ve taken the required modules.

To Apply

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

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

Key Facts

We're 6th in the UK 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)

We're the only UK university to offer an undergraduate physics with photonics degree

Southampton has a history of revolutionary discoveries in photonics, including developing the optical fibres and amplifiers which make the internet possible

This degree has close connections with the University's Optoelectronics Research Centre, a global hub for photonics research

You'll graduate with a skill set which will be sought after in the fast-growing photonics industry

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 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 and an invitation to visit the department. UCAS code: F369 Course title: MPhys Physics with Photonics Course duration: 4 years


Career Opportunities

The UK has a thriving photonics sector; worth over £12bn, it is growing at twice the speed of the rest of the economy. A shortage of trained photonics experts means you’ll be sought after for industry R&D roles, where your knowledge of lasers, optical components and nanofabrication techniques will be in great demand. Or you’ll be well equipped for further research at PhD level. Many of our Physics with Photonics students continue their studies within Southampton’s prestigious Optoelectronics Research Centre before going on to successful industry careers.

If you decide on a career outside physics, your computing, statistical analysis, communication and problem solving skills will impress recruiters in almost any profession. Employers will recognise your degree as a sign that you are an independent thinker who is intellectually curious, insightful and ready for a challenge.

Tailored career support

If you’re not sure which career path is right for you, we’ll offer the support you need to help you decide. We run 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 on which you could gain industry experience of photonics research, through the South East Physics Network scheme.

Career destinations

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

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. Academics use interactive technology to encourage group discussions in lectures, or to enable you to submit a question that they will answer during the session. Or you could get a bit of extra help by reviewing a lecture online or watching a tutor explain a tricky physics problem via video tutorials.

Breakdown of study time and assessment

Proportion of time spent in scheduled learning, teaching and independent study
Learning, teaching and assessment stage1234
Scheduled learning & teaching study39%35%26%17%
Independent study61%65%74%83%
Placement study0%0%0%0%
Proportion of assessment by method
Learning, teaching and assessment stage1234
Written exam assessment53%60%70%57%
Practical exam assessment23%16%14%0%
Coursework assessment24%24%16%43%

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

Communicating and Teaching and The Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme (PHYS3019)
Please note that students are required to pay for their travel costs to and from the schools they work with during the module.  However, travel costs will be reimbursed on production of travel receipts.

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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