The University of Southampton

F3FM MPhys Astrophysics with a Year Abroad (4 Years)

Our MPhys Astrophysics with a Year Abroad degree is available to our top MPhys students and includes relocation to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. This course includes broad study in astrophysical research, including star and planet formation, cosmology and extreme astronomical objects.

Apply nowLimited spaces available on this course for 2018

Introducing your degree

Our distinctive MPhys Astrophysics with a Year Abroad is available to our first-class MPhys students who will be given the opportunity to spend their final year immersed in research at the world-renowned Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Boston, USA.

Why not find out more about this degree from a current student.

You’ll be studying within a leading Physics and Astronomy department; we've been top in the Russell Group for student satisfaction for the past three years (National Student Survey).

Florence Concepcion
The year at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics was an amazing experience. It was filled with research and was something I’d never experienced before. It enabled me to grow as a research scholar, but also personally.
Florence Concepcion, MPhys Astrophysics with a Year Abroad, 2017


The MPhys Astrophysics with a Year Abroad will build upon the MPhys Particle Physics programme and give you a greater breadth and depth of study of astronomy. This flagship programme is intended for students who wish to go on to study for a PhD. We aim to give you the skills and experience that will put you ahead of your peers.

Our MPhys students have the option to move into these programmes once they have arrived in Southampton and established themselves as first-class students – typically you will move into the programme in your second year. Your courses will then be carefully coordinated to fast track you in three years to the frontier of knowledge in physics and astronomy.

In your final year, you will relocate to the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The Center combines the resources and research facilities of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to pursue studies of the basic physical processes that determine the nature and evolution of the universe. Broad programmes of astrophysical research touch on almost all major topics in astronomy including:

  • star and planet formation
  • cosmology
  • extreme astronomical objects

View the 2017/18 programme specification document for this course

View the 2018/19 programme specification document for this course


Our MPhys Physics programmes are accredited by the Institute of Physics

Programme Structure

Students undertake four years of study. Each year there are compulsory modules. However, the degree has been designed to maximise student choice by allowing you to tailor the degree structure to suit your own interests.

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

99 per cent of Physics and Astronomy students were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of their course (National Student Survey 2017)

We rank third for overall satisfaction in Physics and Astronomy out of all UK Higher Education Institutes (NSS 2017)

We are 11th in the UK and top 100 in the world for Physics and Astronomy (QS World Rankings by Subject 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)

Our courses are accredited by the Institute of Physics

Our degrees open the door to a range of jobs – our graduates go into careers in areas as diverse as broadcasting, business, teaching, research and medical physics

Studying 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

English Language Requirements:

If English is not your first language, you will be required to pass an approved English test. We normally ask for a score of IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 580.

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:

By invitation only, to students with best grades on the MPhys with Astronomy programme who have achieved at least a first class grade in their second year, and completed the Tenerife Field Trip. Limited to maximum of 5 students.


Year 2

Year 4

Research Thesis - Astrophysics

Career Opportunities

Our flagship programmes are designed to give you first-hand experience of tackling cutting-edge research problems. You’ll graduate with valuable skills and experience which will put you ahead of your peers. 

The MPhys Astrophysics with a Year Abroad programme will prepare you for PhD study. But with the knowledge and skills you’ll gain, you’ll be able to choose from many career paths. Our recent Physics and Astronomy graduates are working in a range of careers, including astrophysics, meteorology, software engineering, finance, marketing, law and teaching.

As part of your degree you’ll learn key transferable skills, which employers look for when hiring graduates. You’ll develop your analytical thinking, mathematical modelling, presentation and computing skills. You can also take advantage of a specialist careers module in your second year, which includes talks from employers, CV and interview guidance and information on work experience opportunities. 

Find out more about placement opportunities. 

Learn more about careers support in Physics and Astronomy. 

Through an extensive blend of networks, mentors, societies and our on-campus startup incubator, we also support aspiring entrepreneurs looking to build their professional enterprise skills. Discover more about enterprise and entrepreneurship opportunities.

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

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.

Research Thesis - Astrophysics (PHYS6013)
For 2016/17 onwards: The stay at Harvard will typically be for nine months. We arrange accommodation in Boston at below market rent; students live together in a large, modern, five-bedroom house close to the Center for Astrophysics. Tuition fees will be charged at 15% of the standard level. A £500 Southampton Opportunity scholarship will be awarded to contribute to the cost of the 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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