The University of Southampton

F3FM MPhys with Astronomy (4 Years)

Enter the realm of extreme physics and investigate awe-inspiring astronomical events, from the early moments of the universe to the explosive death of stars. You’ll gain the skills and knowledge of a professional astronomer, taught by academics who are directly involved in astronomy research. There are plenty of opportunities for astronomical observation, with a rooftop observatory on site and a chance to spend a week using research-grade telescopes at an observatory in Tenerife. Whether you choose to do a PhD and become an astronomer, or use your advanced computing and data analysis skills in another profession, the knowledge you gain will underpin your lifelong passion for astronomy.

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

Introducing your degree

You’ll learn the science behind powerful phenomena such as white dwarfs, black holes and neutron stars, the evolution of the universe, the formation of galaxies and space weather.

A special feature of this programme is the study visit to Tenerife, where 12 high performing students get a taste of life as a professional astronomer. The trip includes a week-long stay at a mountaintop research observatory where students learn to collect data using a range of high-tech telescopes.

This degree is the gateway to our MPhys Astrophysics with a Year Abroad flagship programme, which offers a unique opportunity to spend your fourth year in the USA conducting research at the prestigious Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Rebecca Levin
My trip to Tenerife was really amazing. In the first week, we designed telescopes and then presented our designs to the Head of the European Space Agency which was quite spectacular. I was not expecting that!
Rebecca Levin, MPhys Physics with Astronomy, 2017

Overview

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.

On the MPhys Physics with Astronomy course you’ll gain a robust understanding of core physics concepts and practical lab skills, while developing your astronomy knowledge to an advanced level.

You’ll be joining a vibrant community of like-minded astronomers. The student Astronomy Society meets every week to observe the skies, and organises astronomy trips and social activities. And the Physics and Astronomy department hosts regular astronomy talks, where you can hear about the latest astronomy projects and discoveries.

You don’t need any prior astronomy knowledge to join the programme – an introductory astronomy module in year one provides the foundation you’ll need for specialised studies in later years. As you progress, you’ll gain a more in-depth understanding of:

  • the make-up, dynamics and environment of galaxies
  • the life cycle of stars
  • how radiation is produced and detected in a cosmic setting
  • the space environment and space weather
  • concepts of modern cosmology (the study of the origin and evolution of the universe) including the nature of dark matter

Your understanding of astronomy will be underpinned by your broader physics studies. Year one modules cover energy and matter, electromagnetism, special relativity and the foundational theories of quantum physics. You’ll gain more in-depth knowledge as you progress, applying your learning in areas such as particle and atomic physics. You’ll also develop the mathematical skills to model real-world problems and analyse data, and the practical skills to work confidently in the lab and design your own experiments.

For your extended project in year four you can choose to work with one of our astronomers on a project related to their area of expertise. You could use our on-site observatory to collect and interpret your own data, or work with high-quality data from other ground or space-based telescopes. Many of our students produce results of publication quality.

View the 2018/19 programme specification document for this course

View the 2019/20 programme specification document for this course

Research-grade facilities

Throughout the programme 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.

Our superb astronomy facilities couldn’t be closer to hand – there is an observatory on the roof of the Physics and Astronomy building, equipped with two high-spec telescopes and CCD detectors for astronomy imaging. You’ll be able to use these for your fourth-year project work.

You’ll also benefit from our recently refurbished Physics and Astronomy foyer, with a specialist library and dedicated study spaces. 

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 – components that make today’s internet work – and more recently our scientists were involved in detecting gravitational waves and light from the collision of two neutron stars for the first time.

 You’ll hear about the latest research findings, often before they are published or reported in the media, from lecturers who are directly involved in outstanding research. Our Astronomy Research Group is a hub for highly respected research in specialist areas including the evolution of compact objects and the space environment. Two of our Astronomy staff are Royal Society Fellows, a prestigious award that demonstrates research of the highest calibre.

Accreditation

Our MPhys Physics programmes are accredited by the Institute of Physics

Programme Structure

On the MPhys Physics with Astronomy course, you’ll be able to select from a range of optional modules. You could explore a physics specialism that interests you, study a language or broaden your intellectual horizons by choosing a module from another discipline, such as business, music or earth sciences.

Because all our programmes share the same core modules in the first and second year, it’s also possible to switch to one of our other physics degrees before the end of year two, provided you have taken the required options.

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 rank 6th in the UK for physics in the Guardian University Guide 2019

100 per cent of MPhys Physics with Astronomy students were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of their course (National Student Survey, 2018)

100 per cent of MPhys Physics with Astronomy students agreed that the course is intellectually stimulating (National Student Survey, 2018)

100 per cent of MPhys Physics with Astronomy students agreed that staff value their views and opinions about the course (National Student Survey, 2018)

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

You could choose to become a professional astronomer, or use your advanced computing and data analysis skills in another profession

You'll have the chance to spend a week using research-grade telescopes in Tenerife

Studying physics and astronomy at Southampton

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

A Levels:
QualificationGrade
A Level

AAA, inlcuding AA in Mathematics and Physics.

GCSEs:
QualificationGrade
GCSE

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: F3FM Course title: MPhys Physics with Astronomy Course duration: 4 years

Modules

Career Opportunities

Your MPhys Physics with Astronomy degree opens up a huge range of career options. Your experimental, theoretical and analytical skills will be a strong foundation for further study – a path followed by around a third of our graduates – or for an industry research role.

If you decide on a career outside physics, you’ll be able to demonstrate transferable skills such as computation and coding, data modelling, statistical analysis, communication and project management. In addition, employers will see your physics degree as a sign that you are an independent thinker with an enquiring mind and an appetite for a challenge.

If you’re not yet sure about your future career path, we’ll offer the support you need to help you decide. 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, visits to companies and 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. If you’re keen to gain some additional hands-on astronomy research experience, you could choose to do your placement in our labs, working alongside graduate students on an Astronomy Research Group project.

Our Physics and Astronomy 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 take their teaching as seriously as 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. You could 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 re-watching a filmed lecture or seeing a tutor explain a tricky physics problem via a video tutorial.

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%34%23%18%
Independent study61%66%77%82%
Placement study0%0%0%0%
Proportion of assessment by method
Learning, teaching and assessment stage1234
Written exam assessment44%59%66%70%
Practical exam assessment18%8%3%1%
Coursework assessment38%33%31%29%

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

Funding

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

Design and Observation in Astronomy (PHYS2011)
The field trip component takes place over two consecutive weeks within the Easter break, at the premises of the University of La Laguna, Tenerife and at the Observatorio del Teide, Tenerife. While the field trip is heavily subsidised by the faculty, a student contribution to the costs is required; in academic year 2016-17, this is £450 per student. Flight costs, all local travel costs in Spain, and all hotel accommodation costs during the week in La Laguna, all costs of staying at the residencia at the observatory, as well as all food costs during week 2 at the observatory are included. The only unavoidable additional costs students will incur in Spain are food costs during the day in the first week. Any student who genuinely cannot afford to pay the student contribution for some reason should contact the course co-ordinator to discuss this privately.

European Dimension in Space (PHYS2030)
The one-week field trip component takes place within the Easter break, at the premises of the University of La Laguna, Tenerife. While the field trip is heavily subsidised by the faculty, a student contribution to the costs is required. Flight costs, all local travel costs in Spain, and all hotel accommodation costs are included. The only unavoidable costs students will incur in Spain are food costs during the day. Any student who genuinely cannot afford to pay the student contribution for some reason should contact the course co-ordinator to discuss this privately. For students taking this module in AY 2016/17, the cost will be £275.

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

TypeDescription
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: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/isolutions/students/printing-for-students.page.

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 www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

Location

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